Psilocybin Protestors Arrested Outside of DEA Headquarters

The Right To Try Psilocybin group organized a rally and nonviolent civil disobedience demonstration on May 9 to bring attention to the DEA blocking access to psilocybin therapy.

Kathryn Tucker is the lead litigator for a terminally ill patient and spoke at the event, pressuring the DEA to allow patients the opportunity to proceed with psilocybin as a treatment. She continued to talk about the Right to Try Act, which was signed by Former President Donald Trump in 2018, and how medical patients shouldn’t need to wait for the slow process of legislation to be passed for them to legally obtain drugs. She also explained how some military veterans are traveling to Jamaica or Peru to access therapeutic drugs such as MDMA, and how some veterans who don’t receive access to these treatments often commit suicide as a result.

“We’re here today to demand that the DEA open a pathway to access,” said Tucker in front of the DEA headquarters. “We approached the DEA in January of 2021; that is now 15 months ago, and the DEA refused access. So we took the DEA to federal court in a lawsuit known as Aims vs. DEA that pended in the 9th circuit for 10 months in which we had a deep drill-down into what the law requires. The DEA understands now that it has a duty and an obligation to open and create a pathway to access. And yet, the court sent the matter back to the DEA.”

Tucker also introduced her client, Erinn Baldeschwiler, who has Stage 4 cancer and has waited over a year for her palliative care physician to allow her to try psilocybin therapy. Tucker explained that they requested access for Baldeschwiler in February, and as of May, they haven’t received a response. “This tactic of delay is unacceptable. Delay is justice forever denied.”

“DEA needs to stop the delay, it needs to get out of the way, and it needs to create a path to access. Not one more dying patient should endure debilitating anxiety and depression when relief could be had,” Tucker said.

Others participants who were present included Kim Larsen, Dr. Mikhail Kogan, Melissa Lavasani, Eric Swenson, Adam Eidinger, and David Bronner (CEO of Dr. Bronner’s, which is renowned for its consistent efforts to support cannabis, psilocybin, and other alternate treatments).

“We’re not asking [the] DEA to be compassionate,” Bronner said at the protest. “We’re asking them to follow established law.”

The entire event was livestreamed on Facebook for the duration of nearly four hours as participants laid down on the ground in front of one of the DEA building’s entrances, while others wrote “right to try” and “DEA out of the way” on the entrance windows with washable paint. 

Law enforcement arrived approximately halfway through the demonstration to investigate the protest. They spoke with activists and also entered the building to find a representative who might speak to the group. The 17 protesters were arrested for trespassing, and their hands were bound with zip ties, but they were immediately released with a court summons for May 19. 

The protestors later posed for a proud group photo, holding up their zip ties and court documents. “Note some of the zip ties. Proof federal protective services didn’t make the cuffs tight due to their sympathy to the issue and attempts to negotiate with DEA for a meeting about,” Eidinger explained in a Tweet on the same day. “We will need to come back and protest more. The question is what should the nature of those protests be.”

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