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Biden's Brother Says the President is 'Very Open-Minded' About Psychedelics for Medical Treatment

Frank Biden made the comments during a call into The Michael Smerconish Program on SiriusXM.

Artwork on display is seen at the Psychedelic Science conference in the Colorado Convention Center Wednesday, June 21, 2023, in Denver.
Artwork on display is seen at the Psychedelic Science conference in the Colorado Convention Center Wednesday, June 21, 2023, in Denver.
AP Photo/David Zalubowski

WASHINGTON (AP) β€” President Joe Biden's youngest brother said in a radio interview Wednesday that the president has been "very open-minded" in conversations the two have had about the benefits of psychedelics as a form of medical treatment.

Frank Biden made the comments during a call into The Michael Smerconish Program on SiriusXM. The host had just interviewed a Wall Street Journal reporter who recently wrote about powerful Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and employees who believe the use of psychedelics and similar substances can help lead to business breakthroughs.

"He is very open-minded," Frank Biden said when asked by Smerconish about conversations he's had with the president on the topic. "Put it that way. I don't want to speak, I'm talking brother-to-brother. Brother-to-brother," the younger Biden said. "The question is, is the world, is the U.S. ready for this? My opinion is that we are on the cusp of a consciousness that needs to be brought about to solve a lot of the problems in and around addiction, but as importantly, to make us aware of the fact that we're all one people and we've got to come together."

Frank Biden added that he had "done a great deal of research" on the issue "because I'm a recovering alcoholic for many, many years."

The White House did not respond to a request for comment.

Some researchers believe psilocybin, the compound in psychedelic mushrooms, changes the way the brain organizes itself and can help users overcome things like depression, alcoholism and post-traumatic stress disorder. A drug that's related to the anesthetic ketamine was cleared by the FDA to help people with hard-to-treat depression.

But medical experts caution that more research is needed on the drugs' efficacy and the extent of the risks of psychedelics, which can cause hallucinations.

The American Psychiatric Association has not endorsed the use of psychedelics in treatment, noting the Food and Drug Administration has yet to offer a final determination. The FDA designated psilocybin as a "breakthrough therapy" in 2018, a label that's designed to speed the development and review of drugs to treat a serious condition. MDMA, also known as ecstasy, also has that designation for PTSD treatment.

The FDA last week released draft guidance for researchers designing clinical trials testing psychedelic drugs as potential treatments for a variety of medical conditions. The Biden administration has also provided to the National Institutes of Health and other agencies funding for dozens of projects studying psychedelic drugs with potential benefit for mental and behavioral health.

Earlier this year, Oregon became the first state in the nation to legalize the adult use of psilocybin. Colorado's voters last year voted to decriminalize psilocybin.

Republican strongholds, including Utah and Missouri, have or are considering commissioning studies into the drugs, partly inspired by veterans' who have used psilocybin to help with PTSD.

Former Texas Republican Gov. Rick Perry spoke at a conference last week in Colorado about helping get a bill passed in the Texas legislature in 2021 to fund a study of psilocybin for veterans. He doesn't support recreational use.

In Congress, similar veteran-focused proposals brought progressive Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez from New York and far-right Rep. Matt Gaetz from Florida into an unlikely alignment.


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