Biden’s Drug Czar is pushing to simplify the process of psychedelic substance research


Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

On Thursday, August 31, the Biden administration suggested rule changes to the federal drug scheduling system that could potentially streamline the process of researching Schedule I controlled substances.

Included in the list of drugs that could be investigated for research purposes are two well-known psychedelic substances cannabis and psilocybin.

A letter outlining the proposed rule change was issued to congressional leaders by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP). Additionally, a plan detailing the Biden administration’s motive which clarified that it hopes to promote research by making the registration process simpler was published on the agency’s website.

If the rule change is adopted, scientists will benefit from easier access to Schedule I drugs; access will be on-par with that of less-restricted substances in the Schedule II category.

Psychedelic substances research effort from Biden’s drug czar is part of a broader White House initiative

Cannabis is not the primary focus of the psychedelic substances research effort that is being proposed by the U.S. President’s drug czar. In fact, this push to explore the health benefits of psychedelic substances is part of a much wider White House initiative.

The initiative aims to minimize the supply of illegal fentanyl analogues across the Nation. Moreover, the all-encompassing White House initiative focuses on the protection of civil rights, as well as methods of “reducing barriers to scientific research for all schedule I substances.”

Health professionals across the country have continuously lashed out at government officials for their lax approach to updating the existing registration system, which, they say, has hindered research into Schedule I substances like cannabis. In fact, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), Nora Volkow, called the process “lengthy and cumbersome.”

Moving forwards, the ONDCP claims that it will “align research registration for all schedule I substances more closely with the research registration process for schedule II substances.”

“The Biden-Harris Administration strongly supports expanding the research of [fentanyl-related substances] and other schedule I substances to help advance evidence-based public policy,” reads an official statement from the ONDCP.

As per the existing process for reviewing Schedule I and Schedule II DEA research registration applications, submissions must contain a well-written research proposal, in addition to information related to study-focused qualifications and experience, as well as storage and security.

On the other hand, cannabis research applicants who are hoping to gain access to Schedule I drugs may need to overcome additional obstacles so as to ensure that the secretary of health and human services can accurately “determine the qualifications and competency of each practitioner requesting registration, as well as the merits of the research protocol.”

DEA is taking steps towards researching Schedule I drugs

Regardless of the existing restrictions into cannabis research, the ONDCP remains hopeful that it can streamline investigative efforts into the plant and other Schedule I drugs. In fact, it appears to be a persistent theme that’s transpiring across the industry as a whole.

The DEA’s recent proposal to increase cannabis and psilocybin for research purposes is something that has likely prompted the ONDCP to progress with the scientific studying of Schedule I drugs. Thanks to the DEA’s decision to approve additional cultivators for research, scientists will no longer be limited to acquiring the plant from the University of Mississippi, which has maintained authority over research-focused growing for half a century.

“DEA firmly believes in supporting regulated research of schedule I controlled substances,” the ONDCP said in a recent Federal Register filing. “Therefore, the [Aggregate Production Quota] increases reflect the need to fulfill research and development requirements in the production of new drug products, and the study of cannabis effects in particular, as necessary steps toward potential Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of new drug products.”.

In spite of production developments, lobbyists still feel angered that, in spite of emerging research demonstrating their medical potential, cannabis plants and fungi remain in the harshest drug category.