In this episode of Psychedelics Weekly, David is joined by Kathryn L. Tucker, JD: Director of Advocacy at the National Psychedelics Association and a founding member of the Psychedelic Bar Association with over 35 years in advocacy in protecting the rights of dying patients.
Tucker is currently working with Dr. Sunil Agarwal of the Advanced Integrative Medical Science (AIMS) Institute in a battle against the DEA: Agarwal works with end-of-life cancer patients and approached the DEA to see how they’d accommodate state and federal Right to Try laws to grant his patients access to psilocybin, which the DEA denied. This led to the federal case, AIMS vs. the DEA (AIMS I), then AIMS II (which petitions their denial of Right to Try access), and now, AIMS III, which appeals their denial of the petition to reschedule psilocybin.
As with all things government-related, the story shows how little these people actually care about any of us, but Tucker gracefully walks us through the whole convoluted mess; explaining each step, what should happen next, where the DEA blatantly disregarded rules, what you can do to help, and ultimately, the importance of this case in how situations like these could be handled in the future (from both sides). She discusses the problems with state legalization under federal jurisdiction; what we can learn from what we saw with safe injection sites being canceled in Philadelphia; Cory Booker and Rand Paul’s Breakthrough Therapy Act; the idea of having state-legal programs actually run by the government to create a federal safe harbor; and more.
And in the news, they cover recently submitted legalization bills, Australia legalizing the medical use of psilocybin and MDMA (for specific conditions by approved practitioners), and the concern over what will happen with ketamine telehealth when the Covid-19 Emergency is finally put to an end in May.
“As you may have seen just last week in Australia, MDMA and psilocybin were rescheduled. And you might have noticed in the press release a reference to the fact that the Australian agency took in a considerable amount of medical and scientific data when it was considering that rescheduling. That’s proper. That’s necessary. That did not happen here. So what happened in Australia exemplifies and throws into sharp light that the DEA failed as a matter of process here.”
“The problem with state legalization as mentioned earlier is that it can do no more than offer state safe harbor. It cannot alter federal law. …Under the Oregon statute, all psilocybin must be consumed at a psilocybin service center, which must be licensed by the state, and it must be purchased and consumed at that center in the presence of a licensed facilitator. That is what is legal under Oregon state law. However, the operation of those psilocybin service centers is still a federal crime. And I think there has been a hope and possibly even an expectation that the federal government is going to look the other way. We have no indication that that is going to happen.”
“Within the Controlled Substances Act, there’s a provision that if the action is taken by a government official, then there is a federal safe harbor. So one of the ways that one might be looking at creatively revising these state legalizations is to have the program be run by the government. Now could you make an argument that when, for example, the Oregon Health Authority issues licenses to Oregon service centers, that that means it’s a government-run facility? Maybe. I mean, I think that’s an argument worth fully vetting, because it could bring you within federal safe harbor.”