The United Kingdom could become the next country to legalize psilocybin research (if Prime Minister Boris Johnson keeps his word).
On Wednesday, the British leader said he would consider lowering the barriers for researchers working with controlled drugs such as psilocybin, a psychoactive compound found in “magic mushrooms.”
As a Schedule 1 drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act, psilocybin (along with other psychedelic drugs such as psilocin, DMT, LSD, MDMA and mescaline) cannot be legally possessed or prescribed in the UK.
Biomedical researchers need a license from the Home Office to study these substances.
A Bit Of Context
During Prime Minister’s Question Time, Conservative MP and drug reform advocate Crispin Blunt asked Mr. Johnson to review the classification of psilocybin as a Schedule 1 drug. He also cited the drug’s “exciting” potential to treat a range of mental illnesses, including depression, trauma and addiction.
Blunt, who is also the president of the Conservative Drug Policy Reform Group, a policy forum which promotes informed debate on drug policy reform, asked, “Will [Mr. Johnson] end the current barriers to research on psilocybin and similar compounds for the British public to receive, and British scientific research and British scientific companies to allow potential treatments in these most debilitating conditions to be delivered as soon as possible?”
Boris Johnson replied, “I can tell him that we will consider the recent advice from the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs on reducing barriers to controlled drug research such as the one he describes, and we will get back to him as soon as possible.”
As chairman of the Conservative Drug Policy Reform Group, Blunt has repeatedly called on the government to urgently re-schedule psilocybin in Schedule 2 of the Misuse of Drugs Act. According to him, this would make it easier, cheaper and faster to conduct clinical trials with psilocybin.
However, it should be clarified that this change would not approve the drug for recreational use. In other words, it would still be classified as a Class A drug under criminal law.
Blunt claims that, during a private meeting with the Prime Minister in May, Mr. Johnson told him that he had signed the rescheduling of the drug the day before. Even so, the law has yet to be changed.
In a statement last month, Blunt said, “This delay is significant. In the 110 days since the prime minister gave his go-ahead, nearly 2,000 people have taken their own lives, most of them probably avoidable when this research is translated into treatment.”
What The British People Think
Earlier this year, a survey of UK citizens revealed that the majority of Britons supported the relaxation of restrictions on psilocybin research.
55% of survey participants supported the measure, while only 13% were opposed and 31% said they were unsure.
The survey also showed that 55% of respondents supported changing the law to allow veterans with psychiatric problems to have access to psilocybin-assisted therapy.
In addition, 58% supported terminally ill patients having access to psilocybin-assisted therapy; and 59% of Britons would consider psilocybin-assisted therapy if it were offered to them.