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Top Federal Drug Official Says There’s ‘Tremendous Excitement’ Around Psychedelic Medicine, But ‘It’s Not Magic’

A top federal drug official says there is “tremendous excitement” about the therapeutic potential of psychedelics. However, she cautioned that while the treatment option is “very promising,” people should understand that “it’s not magic” and needs more rigorous research.

National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) Director Nora Volkow shared her perspective on the status of psychedelics research during a hearing before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies on Thursday.

Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI), a strong supporter of psychedelics policy reform, asked Volkow where the country is at on a research level, noting that while he supports “liberalizing” drug laws in general, he wants evidence from agencies like NIDA before calling certain substances “medicine.”

“This is an area of tremendous excitement—from the very pharmacology to actually understanding how to optimally use it on patients,” Volkow replied. “Because the data is starting to translate into evidence that it could be beneficial, what has happened is that conditions are ahead of actually where the data is, so it’s being offered to a wide variety of patients without sufficient evidence.”

“How do you optimally give it without producing risk and ensuring that you’re having long term

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