US states lead the way in progressive drug policy
Oregon State in the US is leading the way in legalising psychedelic drugs for therapeutic use. We spoke to drugs researcher Dr Robin Carhart-Harris of Imperial College about how the US is forging ahead and why the Brits are unlikely to follow.
IDLER Robin, what is happening?
ROBIN A number of cities in the US are decriminalising psychedelic drugs. I think it covers any plant based psychedelic. I think probably what will happen is they’ll give a list including magic mushrooms. I guess that LSD will be on the list as well.
IDLER Is this a libertarian move?
ROBIN It is a cultural phenomenon inspired by Michael Pollan’s book [How to Change Your Mind, Penguin] and others. A lot of people are wising up to this and self medicating with psychedelics. They are seeing beneficial effects and getting really inspired by how it’s helped them. They feel a calling, in a way, to contribute to bringing this to other people.
IDLER Which states are most ahead?
ROBIN Denver has already decriminalised, as has Oakland, and Chicago are looking at it. California have an initiative for the whole of the state. The most exciting one in my mind is the Oregon initiative to legalise psilocybin therapy which would include magic mushroom therapy. That’s really exciting because they’ve had to draw up all the terms which would be needed for people to have a license to administer the psychedelic therapy. That’s the model which in a sense the scientists want to see at a federal level in the US and then across Europe. It’s a clinician administered intervention – you don’t get prescribed your psychedelic and take it home, instead you come to a licensed centre. We’re riding a wave at the moment and personally speaking I can see a lot of good which could come from the Oregon initiative.
IDLER What about this country?
ROBIN We have a Conservative government in power and they are constrained in what they can do in terms of drug policy because their supporters and lobbyists and funders are, generally speaking, quite anti-drug. I don’t think we’re going to be leading on changes in drug policy. We’re already slow in providing medical marijuana for people who need it. That could be a shame for the science here because the legal status has implications on how much freedom you have to do the science itself. It’s made harder by having the status of Class A drugs here. It’s ridiculous, really. It will all look so out of date very soon.
IDLER They are all still Class A?
ROBIN Yeah, magic mushrooms are Class A which is just laughable.
Dr Robin Carhart-Harris has made the definitive online course on psychedelic science for the Idler Academy. Click here to find out more.