AOC is doing what we love her best for: calling out the old-guard Democrats. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the Democratic Representative from New York, says she’s worried that President Joe Biden may derail bipartisan efforts to address psychedelics due to his past conservative comments about cannabis usage, Business Insider reports.
“I believe the president has displayed a regressiveness for cannabis policy,” she said, making it clear that she has concerns about Biden’s approach to cannabis and psychedelics. “And if there’s a regressiveness toward cannabis policy, it’s likely to be worse on anything else,” AOC added.
Cannabis and “classical” psychedelics, such as LSD and psilocybin, have been gaining the American people’s public acceptance. In June, a study found that Americans say cannabis is much less dangerous than opioids, alcohol, and cigarettes.
Recently, during an interview with The Michael Smerconish Program on SiriusXM Wednesday, the president’s brother, Frank Biden, shared that the president might be down with psychedelics. “He is very open-minded,” Frank Biden responded when asked by Smerconish about discussions with his presidential brother about the medical benefits of psychedelics.”
In 2022, Biden announced that he will pardon people with federal convictions for simple possession of cannabis. The president also announced that he will direct the U.S. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland and Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra to begin the process of reviewing the classification of cannabis at the federal level.
And, in late June, the FDA issued the first-ever guidance for psychedelic clinical studies. They filed the 14-page document following Congress-introduced bipartisan legislation led by Texas Republican Representative Dan Crenshaw, directing the issuance of clinical trial guidelines.
However, this hasn’t convinced AOC that President Biden, the leader of the federal government, is committed to honoring the public’s changing viewpoints based on how he has talked about marijuana in the past. “I am concerned about the president,” Ocasio-Cortez of New York told The Washington Post.
And she’s not wrong to question his flip-flopping policy. Back during the 2020 election, Leafly pointed out that Biden was the only Democratic presidential candidate that was against federal legalization. Only a few years ago, in 2019, Biden said cannabis could be a “gateway drug,” one of the foulest expressions in the English language to the cannabis connoisseur.
“The truth of the matter is, there’s not nearly been enough evidence that has been acquired as to whether or not it is a gateway drug,” the then-presidential hopeful said during a town hall event. “It’s a debate, and I want a lot more before I legalize it nationally. I want to make sure we know a lot more about the science behind it.”
However, once Biden realized it was only him and Donald Trump against federal legalization, he quickly changed his tune. Since entering office, he has kept a safe distance from drug policy but, as mentioned, has stated that federal legalization is in the future. However, Ocasio-Cortez says other lawmakers’ reactions regarding pro-psychedelic legislation tells another story.
According to AOC, when she first introduced the legislation, an unnamed senior member of her party laughed at her. “Oh, is this your little ‘shrooms bill?'” Ocasio-Cortez said the lawmaker told her. She and Crenshaw added amendments that would increase access to psychedelic treatments for veterans and active-duty service members with mental health conditions, which were tacked on to the annual National Defense Authorization Act.
Florida Republican Representative Matt Gaetz, who recently proposed ending drug testing for the military, says the congressional “gerontocracy” is why lawmakers of both parties (the psychedelic movement is a surprisingly bipartisan effort), in line with AOC’s observation that politicians like Biden, are stuck in regressive viewpoints.
However, even if Biden came off as anti-cannabis just four years ago, and even if that’s how he feels, given recent activity, it’s clear that he’s realized that if the president wants to stay in the game, he must embrace cannabis and psychedelics as valid medicines. Most folks in the movement would take federal deregulation, even if it comes from lawmakers’ efforts to look cool rather than what lives in their hearts.