Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is leading the charge to study psychedelic drugs like psilocybin and MDMA for their health benefits. The New York Representative filed legislation on Friday that would remove a legal barrier that scientists face when trying to study the drugs, according to Forbes.
Many believe that drugs like magic mushrooms (psilocybin) and ecstasy (MDMA) can treat ailments from headaches to depression, but legal barriers prevent scientists from studying the drugs further.
AOC's measure is an amendment to a large-scale appropriations bill that would fund the Department of Labor and the Department of Health and Human Services in the 2020 fiscal year. The measure would allow taxpayer funds to be used in testing the drugs by removing a rider that prohibits federal spending on any activity that "promotes" drug legalization.
"We need to get drugs and drug use out of criminal consideration and into medical consideration," she told The New York Post.
"There's a lot of early promising research from Johns Hopkins [University] on the effect of using psilocybin research for treating our veterans with PTSD," she added. "And right now, because of older provisions from the war on drugs, it's preventing scientists from doing this medical research. So I've introduced an amendment to expand the research on these drugs."
Many universities have hesitated to study these types of drugs because it may threaten their federal funding, which means that the science in studying these drugs is lacking behind legal drugs.AOC has attacked the war on drugs before and has been particularly critical of the ways in which government policies have had a disproportionate effect on racial minority groups. She has called the legalization of marijuana a step in the right direction for creating racial justice and has made it one of her campaign promises.
The first-term congresswoman has said that marijuana is no more damaging than alcohol and should be treated similarly.
"We need to accept that there is nothing more inherently damaging about marijuana than, say, legal substances like alcohol or anything else," she said.
Drugs like mushrooms and ecstasy have gained wider support around the country in recent years. Denver became the first city in the country last month to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms. Oakland made a similar move last week, but expanded their measure to include ayahuasca, mescaline, and ibogaine, allowing people over the age of 21 to use the drugs.
The House Rules Committee now needs to decide whether the amendment will be allowed to reach the full body for votes later this week.