British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is open to the idea of legalizing psilocybin for therapeutic purposes in the UK, according to a recent conversation. By downgrading psilocybin’s classification to Schedule 2, the mushroom would be available for medical use and research.
BBC News reports that Tory MP (Member of Parliament) Crispin Blunt urged Johnson to review the country’s law to allow more research into the psilocybin’s potential as a therapeutic during Prime Minister’s Questions. Blunt said it has “exciting potential” for the treatment of mental health conditions such as depression, trauma and addiction.
Under current law, psilocybin is currently listed under Schedule 1 of the Misuse of Drugs Act, sharing the category with drugs such as LSD, DMT, MDMA and mescaline—in a similar manner to the way it is classified in the United States. Most people in the UK cannot legally possess psilocybin, unless a Home Office license is used in research.
Advocates hope to move psilocybin to Schedule 2 with restrictions to prevent false prescriptions and to promote medical and scientific research.
Blunt pressed the prime minister to allow psilocybin to be reclassified. “I can say that we will consider the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs recent advice on reducing barriers to research with controlled drugs such as the one he describes, and we will be getting back to him as soon as possible,” Johnson said in response to Blunt’s question.
“There is no record anywhere that a substance that has come out of ‘schedule two’ and gone into the criminal supply chain,” Johnson told BBC News.
It’s not the first time Blunt has called to reclassify psilocybin. Blunt is also the president of the Conservative Drug Policy Reform Group, a policy forum which promotes informed debate on drug policy reform. 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.”
Policing minister Kit Malthouse told MPs on October 18 that although he liked the idea of battling mental illness—the scheduling of psilocybin was a responsibility for the drug regulation agency.
“There are ongoing trials and research into psilocybin taking place in the UK and while the medicine has yet to be licenced by the medicines and healthcare products regulatory agency, if and when it is, we will consider rescheduling it,” he said.
Psilocybin as a Therapeutic Medicine
Ongoing clinical research shows that psilocybin, combined with conventional therapies, can help to treat people with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The substance is also being explored as therapy for depression and end-of-life treatment, among other mental conditions.
City and statewide efforts to decriminalize psilocybin use have spread throughout the United States, including measures in Denver, Colorado and other cities. California cities such as Oakland and Santa Cruz took things further, decriminalizing other psychedelic substances.
In November 2020, Oregon voters approved Measure 109, which will allow the use of the psilocybin in regulated facilities. However, the program won’t be operational until 2023, and there’s a lot to be sorted out. Oregon’s Psilocybin Advisory Board is currently learning about the safety and efficacy of psilocybin in treating a variety of mental health conditions.
Last year, Canada announced that four patients who have been diagnosed with terminal cancer will receive therapy from psilocybin. It came as a response to a plea from patients with the government. Finally, the plea for medicine was approved by Patty Hajdu, who serves as minister of health in Canada. It was the first exception to the rule for psychedelic treatment since 1974.
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