Jeff joins working group to promote research into psychedelics as mental health treatments

Yesterday, Jeff Smith MP spoke at the launch event of Drug Science’s Medical Psychedelics Working Group.

Drug Science is the UK’s leading independent scientific body on drugs. It produces, reviews and investigates scientific evidence relating to psychoactive drugs, aiming to create the foundation for sensible and effective drug laws.

Many scientists and health experts believe that the future of psychedelic medicine is very promising, and that it has the potential for widespread use in treating a variety of health problems, particularly PTSD and other mental health issues.

But current UK scheduling regulations have created huge barriers to legitimate research, especially for substances in Schedule 1, like psilocybin. While current legislation does not ban scientific research into these drugs, it does make them much more difficult, time-consuming and expensive to study.

These barriers to research have held back the development of treatments which could really help people, including those for whom existing treatments have been ineffective. For example, there is already emerging evidence that psychedelic drugs can be extremely effective at treating mental health problems like depression and PTSD.

In order to break down the barriers of 50 years of medical censorship, the Medical Psychedelics Working Group has been set up to create a rational and evidence-led approach to psychedelic research and clinical treatment, with a focus on how psychedelics can be integrated into primary and secondary healthcare.

At the launch event, attendees heard moving testimonies from two war veterans, Guy Murray and Keith Abraham, who had been left with trauma after their time serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. After finding traditional talking therapies and medications had little effect, both had experiences with psychedelic treatments which played an integral part in being able to heal. Mr Abraham went on to found veterans’ charity Heroic Hearts UK, and spoke about his hopes that veterans and emergency service personnel with trauma might easily be able to access such treatments in the future.

Attendees went on to hear from leading scientists about developments in psychedelic research and its clinical application, including Professor David Nutt and Professor Jo Neill from the University of Manchester.

Jeff, who has joined the working group’s policy committee, also spoke at the launch event.

Jeff said:

“I was particularly pleased to take part in yesterday’s launch because the Medical Psychedelics Working Group brings together the two key interests that I hope to make a difference on in Parliament – drugs policy and mental health.

“I’ve heard powerful testimony and emerging evidence about how psychedelic medicine can help with mental health issues, and particularly with PTSD. I’m convinced that there is real potential to use these drugs for good, so it’s vital that we allow research to happen unhindered so that we can better understand and build on that evidence.”

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