Earlier this year I reported that researchers in America
got mashed up and off their faces conducted serious research into LSD being used for psychotherapeutic purposes. It now appears that scientists in Britain have got in on the act as well. Moreover, they are not just confining their studies to Tabs but expanding it to Es and Shrooms as well. It is alleged, for example, that whilst under the influence of Ecstacy (MDMA), patients are more amenable to forms of psychotherapy.
Now, your humble blogmaster has been saying for some time that psychoactive substances ought to be seriously investigated to see if they have a medical application, rather than being banned outright (e.g. see here). The circumstances surrounding the genesis of the study by Imperial College, referenced above, highlight just how difficult this is to achieve in practice. Whilst it is theoretically possible for scientist to use controlled substances such as LSD, MDMA and Psilocybin for research purposes, in practice they are restricted in doing so by (a) serious risk of damage to their careers and (b) funding bodies not willing to fund research. Case in point: the lead researcher for Imperial College is none other than Professor David Nutt, who has already been sacked from the UK Government’s Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs for daring to suggest that alcohol and tobacco are more harmful than LSD, ecstacy and cannabis.
Admittedly it was the last government that sacked Professor Nutt, although the current government does not appear to have any more liberal views on drug research. Tellingly, funding for research into psychoactive substances in both the Unites States and Britain does not come from any public sources, but from private institutions such as the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Substances (US) and the Beckley Foundation (UK).
The irony is that researchers may indeed come up with compelling evidence that currently controlled substances have a therapeutic use, which is impeccable from a methodological point of view (i.e. it is controlled, double-blinded, peer reviewed and all the rest); and yet it still will not lead to any change because Government policy is decided on politcal grounds, not on science.