By Emily Ledger
The UK’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced that he will examine the latest advice and consider the increasing calls to legalise the psychedelic drug psilocybin.
The news comes after a recent report by Conservative MP leader and Chairman of the Conservative Drug Policy Reform Group (CDPRG), Crispin Blunt, that Johnson had approved the proposed rescheduling of psilocybin months ago but the Home Office was yet to act.
Psilocybin is a psychedelic substance that is produced by certain kinds of mushrooms – popularly referred to as ‘magic mushrooms’. Scientific and clinical research into the chemical throughout the 20th century and in more recent years have revealed that psilocybin may be useful in the treatment of a wide variety of mental health conditions including depression, anxiety, and addiction.
Psilocybin is currently listed in Schedule 1 of the Misuse of Drugs Act, which categories the drugs as having “little to no therapeutic value”. Cannabis was also listed in Schedule 1 of the Act until November 2018.
This categorisation means that it is illegal to possess or supply the drug – even for medicinal uses, and a Home Office license is needed for research into the chemical.
These rules have come under increasing fire in recent years as campaigners argue that they make it harder for scientists and doctors to effectively carry out essential research into the therapeutic potential of the drug.
According to the BBC, a growing number of campaigners, including Crispin Blunt MP, are calling for psilocybin to be moved to Schedule 2 in order to facilitate medical and scientific research.
According to Blunt, the prime minister had privately given assurances in May that he was committed to rescheduling psilocybin for clinical research. However, we have been yet to see evidence of this.
In response to this delay, Mr Blunt recently called on the PM at Prime Minister’s Questions to deliver on this assurance.
Mr Johnson told him: “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.”
“There is no record anywhere that a substance that has come out of ‘schedule two’ and gone into the criminal supply chain,” he told BBC News.