Rick Perry: The Conservative Case for Psychedelic Medicine

The former Texas governor on helping veterans with PTSD, increasing legal immigration, and the illegal drug he'd most like to try


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In June, I traveled to Denver with Zach Weismueller to cover the Psychedelic Science 2023 conference, organized by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), a group that has been working to gain Food and Drug Administration approval of MDMA-assisted therapy for PTSD since the late 1980s. We produced a 30-minute documentary about today's "psychedelic renaissance."

The most surprising speaker at the conference was Rick Perry, the former Texas governor and Trump administration energy secretary. What in tarnation was a conservative Republican doing on the stage, extolling the virtues of drugs long associated with hippies and 1960s counterculture? 

I sat down with Perry to learn why he believes psychedelics should be legal medicine for veterans and others suffering from PTSD, how to allow more immigrants to come to America lawfully, and why if he were ever to take a psychedelic drug it would be Ibogaine, a notoriously powerful substance made from the bark of an African tree.

Photo Credits: Riccardo Savi/Sipa USA/Newscom; Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/Newscom; Bob Daemmrich/ZUMAPRESS/Newscom; David Peinado/ZUMA Press/Newscom; Kgjerstad, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons; Marco Schmidt, CC-BY-SA-2.5,  via Wikimedia Commons

Music Credits: "The Ride" by Itamar Doari via Artlist