Leading Psychiatrist: Allow Psychedelic Research
With a growing body of research suggesting that psychedelic drugs could treat conditions that traditional pharmaceuticals struggle to, there is mounting pressure for governments to ease the legal restrictions surrounding them. This pressure has just doubled, as James Rucker, one of the UK’s leading psychiatrists, and honorary lecturer at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King's College London, calls on the government to reclassify psychedelic drugs.
Writing in the British Medical Journal, Rucker states that authorities should “downgrade their unnecessarily restrictive class A, schedule 1 classification". Their current classification means they have "no accepted medical use and the greatest potential for harm, despite the research evidence to the contrary".
Not only this, Rucker points out that psychedelics are more legally restricted than heroin or cocaine (in the UK), despite the fact that there is no evidence to suggest "that psychedelic drugs are habit forming; little evidence indicates that they are harmful in controlled settings; and much historical evidence shows that they could have use in common psychiatric disorders".
THE LAW: STANDING IN THE WAY OF PROGRESS
Rucker goes on to explain how psychedelic research has found promising results for the treatment of anxiety, OCD, addiction, and cluster headaches. Yet even with these findings, conducting research into psychedelics still remains a mammoth undertaking.
As things stand, any institute within the UK that wishes to hold a schedule 1 drug must pay a £5000 (€6960) license fee, which comes with regular police inspections. Then said institute must also purchase the drug. In the case of psilocybin, there is only one approved lab in the world currently manufacturing it for clinical trial, and it costs £100,000 for 1g. It is an extremely unrealistic cost that is making it nearly impossible for scientists to uncover the truth about these drugs.
It "means that clinical research using psychedelics costs 5-10 times that of research into less restricted [but more harmful] drugs such as heroin." As a result, "almost all grant funders are uncomfortable funding research into psychedelics."
Rucker urges the UK Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, and the 2016 UN General Assembly Special Session on Drugs, "to recommend that psychedelics be reclassified as schedule 2 compounds to enable a comprehensive, evidence based assessment of their therapeutic potential".
It just goes to show, now that the ball is rolling once again on psychedelic research, it can’t be stopped – despite monetary roadblocks. The support it is receiving is growing by the day, and more and more prominent scientists are willing to throw their name behind it. Maybe it’s about time for the government to listen, and stop restricting it with such wild and unrealistic costs.