Cover: Psychedelics and Veterans' Mental Health

Psychedelics and Veterans' Mental Health

The Evolving Legal and Policy Landscape in the United States

Published Dec 21, 2022

by Bryce Pardo, Beau Kilmer, Rajeev Ramchand, Carrie M. Farmer

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Over the past 20 years, there has been a resurgence of interest in the use of compounds often referred to as psychedelics to address such mental health conditions as depression, anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorder, and substance use disorders. Public sentiment on psychedelic therapy is starting to shift as well. Multiple jurisdictions, including around a dozen cities, three states, and the District of Columbia, have already relaxed laws or policies related to these substances. Some companies are making major investments in psychedelic research, acquiring patents for future therapies, and shaping a new public discussion around psychedelics.

Veterans represent a sizable segment of mental health care consumers in the United States, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) — the largest provider of mental health care to veterans — has already conducted research into psychedelic treatments. Given the rapidly evolving legal and policy landscape surrounding the use and supply of psychedelics, the federal government must consider how best to support veterans and their health care providers. If VA is not working on a directive to provide guidance to its patients and clinicians, it would be prudent to start these discussions now.

The research described in this report funded by a generous gift from Daniel J. Epstein through the Epstein Family Foundation and conducted by the RAND Epstein Family Veterans Policy Research Institute within RAND Education and Labor and the RAND Drug Policy Research Center within RAND Social and Economic Well-Being.

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