2024 Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy has declared his intention to federally legalize Schedule I drugs, including marijuana and psychedelics, specifically for military veterans grappling with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Ramaswamy's ambitious plan aims to offer alternative therapeutic options to veterans, positioning these substances as a substitute for fentanyl.
During a virtual town hall event leading up to the Iowa caucus, Ramaswamy addressed the issue of medical cannabis legalization at the federal level. Seizing the opportunity, he outlined his comprehensive drug policy proposal tailored to the needs of veterans.
The candidate's response appeared somewhat contradictory at first, acknowledging the existing “patchwork” of state cannabis laws under federal prohibition. He emphasized the necessity for congressional involvement but then proposed a potential unilateral amendment to the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), creating a veterans-specific carve-out for Schedule I drugs.
Ramaswamy expressed concern for veterans resorting to extreme measures like suicide or turning to harmful substances like fentanyl. He firmly advocated for the descheduling of Schedule I drugs for veterans with PTSD, asserting that access to these substances through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) would offer a superior medical care option.
The presidential hopeful asserted, “That's something that I will be able to do as the next president of the United States, and that's where my focus is, in at least bringing some sensibility into the way that we're applying the federal drug scheduling.”
While Ramaswamy could potentially direct federal agencies to conduct a review of drug scheduling or encourage Congress to address the issue, it is important to note that he cannot independently deschedule substances from the CSA.
Ramaswamy's drug policy platform, marked by its evolution and occasional contradictions, includes supporting the broad legalization of Schedule I drugs. However, it is likely that he is referring specifically to his veterans plan, aiming to deschedule cannabis and certain psychedelics for this specific population.
At a separate campaign event in Iowa, Ramaswamy echoed support for the therapeutic use of certain psychedelics, emphasizing the need to make plant-based medicines available. His veterans plan specifically advocates for the descheduling of marijuana, ayahuasca/DMT, and MDMA for veterans with PTSD.
While the candidate has taken a nuanced stance on cannabis policy, expressing concerns about the appropriation of cannabis tax revenue in Ohio's legalization law, he also opposes states preempting federal law.
Ramaswamy's unique proposal has sparked interest and raised eyebrows within the reform community, particularly his call for the federal government to expand the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). In a domestic policy speech, he outlined plans to downsize federal agencies but exempted the DEA, causing confusion within the reform community.
This story was originally published by Marijuana Moment.