Leading psychiatrist pleads for psychedelics to be reclassified to allow scientific research


The prestigious British Medical Journal has just published a strongly worded argument in the name of medical science for an end to the virtual ban on research into psychedelic drugs which has been in force since 1967 when they were made illegal. Promising medical research into psychedelics was shut down and although some medical research has occurred since, often showing great potential, human trials and the development of medical applications has been impossible. The result has been that science in this area has been set back decades.

The article in the BMJ by psychiatrist James J H Rucker argues that the effects of psychedelics are much less harmful than has been claimed and calls for their reclassification under the British ‘Misuse of Drugs Act 1971:

“Psychedelic drugs, especially lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) and psilocybin, which is found in the Psilocybe genus of “magic” mushrooms that grow throughout the United Kingdom, were extensively used and researched in clinical psychiatry before their prohibition in 1967. Hundreds of papers, involving tens of thousands of patients, presented evidence for their use as psychotherapeutic catalysts of mentally beneficial change in many psychiatric disorders, problems of personality development, recidivistic behaviour, and existential anxiety.1

This research abruptly ended after 1967, when psychedelics were legally classified as schedule 1 drugs under the UK Misuse of Drugs Regulations and as class A drugs under the UK Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. Schedule 1 in the UK broadly mirrors schedule I of the 1971 United Nations Convention on Psychotropic Substances, adoption of which is a requirement of UN membership. This classification denoted psychedelic drugs as having no accepted medical use and the greatest potential for harm, despite the existence of research evidence to the contrary.

Indeed, in 1992 John Ehrlichman, former assistant to Richard Nixon—the US president who intensified the “war on drugs” in the 1970s—notoriously admitted that the administration had lied about the harmful effects of drugs and had manipulated media coverage of them for political advantage. Nearly 50 years later psychedelic drugs remain more legally restricted than heroin and cocaine, which are schedule 2, class A in the UK. But no evidence shows that psychedelic drugs are habit forming; little evidence shows that they are harmful in controlled settings; and much historical evidence has shown that they could have use in common psychiatric disorders. A growing number of organisations, most recently in Norway, are questioning the need for such draconian restrictions.”

Full article in the British Medical Journal is here.

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* The remarkable ‘withdrawal interruption’ effect of the natural psychedelic Ibogaine on drug addicts have been known for over 30 years yet very little mainstream research has been done and it has been left to underground therapists to develop effective and responsible treatment protocols by trial and error.

The demonization of psychedelics and the suppression of scientific research is very similar to what happened with medical cannabis thanks to the ‘Reefer Madness’ hysteria which saw medical research banned and medical cannabis advocates either ignored, lampooned (“crazy hippies”) or imprisoned for daring to treat themselves or loved ones.

Even Hemp was banned in the US in 1970 as a “dangerous drug” (according to the American DEA), despite the fact that Hemp is not a drug but is instead the best source of Omega 3 known to humanity, can produce suits that last 100 years (the original Levi Jeans were made from Hemp) and has many industrial uses. Even today Hemp production is banned in several US states; yet another “War on Drugs” related act of self harming which has left China leading the world in the production of hemp fabric and other products.

Exactly as in Galileo’s day, government drug policies have ignored the evidence provided by the experts and insist the world is flat. The only difference today is the experts are not murdered like Galileo, instead they risk being fired and loosing their funding. Hopefully for all those for whom a possible cure is being denied, the times are changing. If so it will be  thanks to brave truth sayers such as James J H Rucker writing in the British Medical Journal.

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