State-funded psychedelic therapy research for veterans could come out of Texas

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The American Flag and Texas Flag fly outside the Texas Capitol in Austin on Dec. 16, 2020. (Nexstar Photo/Wes Rapaport)

HARLINGEN, Texas (KVEO) — One of the most notoriously conservative states may soon be conducting research on the efficacy of psychedelic therapy on the treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  

After approval from the Committee of Veteran Affairs and Border Security, House Bill 1802 (HB 1802) by Texas House Representative Alex Dominguez (D-37) made its way through the Senate this weekend with only one amendment regarding the budget and is expected to head to the desk of Governor Abbott. 

Rep. Dominguez said the bipartisan bill is a focused effort to ensure that veterans get the care that they need. 

“This is a monumental bill, for a number of reasons, but more importantly because it shows that the state of Texas is committed to our veterans, especially those veterans that suffer from treatment-resistant PTSD,” said Rep. Dominguez.  

If passed, the bill would allow clinical studies to be conducted on the effectiveness of psychedelic therapy in treating veterans with PTSD.  

The drugs to be tested in the research include methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), psilocybin, and ketamine. 

Research into these treatments became difficult, if not impossible, following the Controlled Substances Act from the 70’s. 

Now, roughly 50 years after, the stigmatization is subsiding and openness towards the potential treatments is re-emerging.  

Currently, in the United States, the privately funded Johns Hopkins Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research has recently put out research in the field.  

The center was created in 2019 and published research in November 2020 on the “Effects of Psilocybin-Assisted Therapy on Major Depressive Disorder.” 

The trial’s results stated that “psilocybin-assisted therapy was efficacious in producing large, rapid, and sustained antidepressant effects in patients with major depressive disorder.” 

If the bill is passed, the Baylor College of Medicine will work in conjunction with a Houston area veteran’s hospital to execute the studies.  

Dominguez said he is requesting $1.4 million for two years of research, which he feels does not come close to the value of the lives the study will impact.  

“Every year the United States Loses about 6,000 veterans to suicide due to treatment-resistant PTSD. We can’t put a price on how important their lives are,” said Dominguez.  

Treatment may be a few years away, but for veterans like Marcus Capone, who served 13 years in the U.S. Navy as a Navy SEAL, the bill is progress towards the availability of treatment that has been helpful during his journey in dealing with PTSD.  

“The current therapies that are available are not effective,” said Amber Capone, co-founder and executive director of Veterans Exploring Treatment Solutions (VETS), a non-profit organization that provides funding for veterans seeking healing through psychedelic treatment outside of the United States.  

The Capone family started this organization after experiencing the results of psychedelic treatment and wanted to help provide the option for other veterans who may have been having trouble finding an effective treatment.  

“It completely reset him,” said A. Capone. “I think there is a misconception that [psychedelics are] a one and done or it’s a magic bullet; he has put in a lot of hard work every day since [the treatment began.]” 

“I am so proud of Texas. I am so proud of not only the bipartisan support but the expediency in which they’ve pushed this legislation through the House and through the Senate,” said A. Capone. “I feel like Texas will lead the way for all veterans in the United States.” 

Gov. Abbott has not publicly stated his stance on psychedelic research.

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