British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says he’s considering easing regulations on psilocybin and other psychedelics, after a Conservative member of Parliament urged him to reduce hurdles for researching the substances.
During last week’s Prime Minister’s Question Time session, MP Crispin Blunt — chairman of the Conservative Drug Policy Reform Group (CDPRG) — asked Johnson if he will remove barriers to psychedelic study given their proven efficacy as treatments for depression, anxiety and other disorders.
“I know you have a very active interest in this area,” the Prime Minister replied. “What I can say is 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.”
Johnson added that he will look into the issue as soon as possible.
Psilocybin is currently listed as a Schedule 1 substance under the Misuse of Drugs Act along with other psychedelics and MDMA. Blunt wants the substances to be listed under Schedule 2, to ease barriers to access for research and medical purposes.
At the moment, researchers wanting to study psilocybin must get a licence from the country’s Home Office, which is responsible for immigration, security, law and order.
Could be a game changer in mental health treatment.
— Lib Dems For Drug Reform (@LDDrugRef) October 20, 2021
Blunt said this is not the first time he has called to reclassify psilocybin.
During private conversations held in May, Johnson assured Blunt that he was committed to rescheduling psilocybin for medical research, according to a statement by the CDPRG.
“This delay matters. In the 110 days that have passed since the Prime Minister’s sign off nearly 2,000 people have taken their own lives; the majority probably preventable when this research is translated into treatment,” Blunt said.
“In light of the worsening mental health crisis and the sheer number of people taking their own lives daily, the dogged determination to prevent change that characterizes the Home Office response is simply not good enough.”
Psilocybin research has shown the substance can aid in treatment of mental health disorders resistant to more traditional therapies, as well as restore areas of the brain damaged by depression.
A study by the Imperial College London showed that psilocybin, the substance found in so-called magic mushrooms, was as efficient as traditional SSRI antidepressants, and had fewer side effects than those medications.
In Canada, TheraPsil — a non-profit organizations helping patients legally access psilocybin — is pushing the government to implement regulations for medical psilocybin to treat severe mental health conditions and end-of-life distress.