Potential treatments for severe depression, addiction and other mental health disorders are being held up by excessive restrictions on psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, scientists and politicians have said.
Clinical trials suggest that psilocybin may be a safe and effective medicine for patients with certain psychiatric illnesses who do not respond to talking therapies, antidepressants and other drugs. But researchers say their work is being stymied by the government placing the strictest possible controls on the chemical compound.
In a report published on Monday, the Adam Smith Institute, a free market thinktank, and the Conservative drug policy reform group, urge ministers to order a review of psilocybin and remove the obstacles faced by researchers.
Under Home Office regulations, psilocybin is classified as a schedule 1 drug, along with raw opium, LSD, ecstasy and cannabis, and is not considered a medicinal compound. While clinical trials are allowed under licence, obtaining one takes more time and money than many researchers can afford, the authors say.
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The report calls on government to make psilocybin a schedule 2 drug, a move that would dramatically cut the cost and time taken to obtain a licence and remove the stigma surrounding research into the drug.