Vivek Ramaswamy, a 2024 Republican presidential candidate, says that if he’s elected, he would remove federal restrictions on marijuana and psychedelics such as ayahuasca and MDMA to free up access for military veterans suffering from serious mental health conditions.
The entrepreneur has previously discussed his support for psychedelics reform, but he’s now calling for descheduling as part of his veterans policy platform that’s meant to take a “holistic approach” the high rates of substance misuse and suicide within the veteran population.
Ramaswamy would “de-schedule schedule 1 drug restrictions that stand in the way of Veterans with PTSD enjoying access to substances that can assist in their treatment and recovery: marijuana, ayahuasca/DMT [Dimethyltryptamine], and MDMA [methylenedioxymethamphetamine],” according to the plan, which was first reported by Breitbart News.
“Today, over 20 (and by some estimates, 40+) veterans die by suicide *per day.* This is wrong & un-American,” the GOP contender said in a social media post on X. “I support decriminalizing ayahuasca & ketamine for veterans suffering from PTSD, to prevent the epidemic of fentanyl & suicide.”
Today, over 20 (and by some estimates, 40+) veterans die by suicide *per day.* This is wrong & un-American. I support decriminalizing ayahuasca & ketamine for veterans suffering from PTSD, to prevent the epidemic of fentanyl & suicide. We must also drastically improve the…
— Vivek Ramaswamy (@VivekGRamaswamy) November 12, 2023
This isn’t necessarily a new proposal. The candidate previously said that he backs “decriminalizing ayahuasca & ketamine for veterans suffering from PTSD, to prevent the epidemic of fentanyl & suicide,” and he’s been a critic of the federal prohibition on marijuana.
Despite backing federal legalization, however, Ramaswamy took some by surprise by voting against a state-level legalization initiative that passed at the ballot in his home state of Ohio last week. He took issue with how the measure appropriated some cannabis tax revenue for social equity programs—but he also voiced opposition to states preempting federal law.
“I don’t like the conflict between state law and federal law, and so I don’t want people to be afraid that the government can still weaponize the law against them even if they’re engaging in a legal activity at the state level,” he said. “That’s a formula for dangerous overreach of federal power” and “selective prosecution.”
It’s not the first time the opportunistic entrepreneur has made apparently conflicting comments about his drug policy positions, seeming to walk back bolder calls for reform and at times challenge reporting on what specific proposals he endorses.
In a campaign site page dedicated to debunking “fake news,” the candidate pushed back against a Fox News report that characterized his position as supporting the legalization of “hard drugs.”
“You’d have to be smoking something pretty potent to think that Vivek ‘favors legalizing hard drugs.’ Even conservative media took the bait on this one,” the site says, adding that he “supports decriminalizing ayahuasca, ketamine, and psilocybin therapies for veterans who suffer from PTSD, to prevent the epidemic of fentanyl and suicide.”
Ramaswamy has also confused the reform community by calling on the federal government to expand the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). During a domestic policy speech in September, he detailed a proposal to fire about 75 percent of federal workers and shutter key agencies, but DEA would be exempt, while agents at the FBI would be transferred over to the drug agency.