Former UK drug czar calls banning marijuana and psychedelics "the worst case of scientific censorship since the Catholic Church banned the works of Copernicus and Galileo"

Former UK drug czar David Nutt (and author of the amazing and indispensable Drugs Without the Hot Air) has published a paper in the journal Nature Reviews Neuroscience called "Effects of Schedule I drug laws on neuroscience research and treatment innovation" where he, and his co-authors (Leslie A. King and David E. Nichols) call modern drug policy "the worst case of scientific censorship since the Catholic Church banned the works of Copernicus and Galileo." The Independent summarises the paper:

The paper, which is published to coincide with a conference on scientific research with psychedelics at Imperial College London, points to evidence that cannabis, MDMA and psychedelics such as LSD and psilocybin (the compound found in magic mushrooms) have unexplored medicinal benefits and argues that laws should be updated.

Small clinical studies of MDMA, which was originally used in the USA in the 1970s to improve communication in psychotherapy sessions, suggested that it could play a highly beneficial role in the treatment of PTSD patients. The paper’s authors said the drug could also help with “end of life anxiety” and couples therapy”.

Medical use of marijuana is already legal in 17 US states, and the drug has been shown to have benefits such as anxiety reduction and pain relief. However, Professor Nutt said that UK restrictions had blocked development of therapeutic applications for any of cannabis’ 16 active ingredients.

LSD, meanwhile, was widely researched in the 1950s and 1960s, with more than 1,000 papers investigating outcomes for more than 40,000 patients, with evidence suggesting that the drug might be an effective treatment for alcoholism, before bans on the drug around the world ended further research.

'The worst case of scientific censorship since the Catholic Church banned the works of Galileo': Scientists call for drugs to be legalised to allow proper study of their properties (via Reddit)

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  1. Every scientist in the world, plus the Pope, could come out for it, and nothing would change.

    Yeah, I’m a pessimist. If only there was an easy way to cheer up a bit.

  2. “At one point, consciousness-altering devices like the microscope and telescope were criminalized for exactly the same
    reasons that psychedelic plants were banned in later years.”  Doctor Leary.

  3. I, for one, am sick to death of FORMER-(insert title where you could make a difference) issuing statements like this. Where was this sentiment when a difference could have been made?

    1. I, for one, am sick to death of FORMER-(insert title where you could make a difference) issuing statements like this. Where was this sentiment when a difference could have been made?

      That’s basically how he became a FORMER-.

      1. tl;dr – I was thinking of him in the same vein as: Retired Judge David Nichols, Retired State Police Captain Leigh Maddox
        Former Mental Health Correctional Officer Patrick Heintz,
        former Drug Czar General Barry McCaffrey (Retired) – to name but a few.

        1. An Australian Ex-PM, Malcom Fraser, would be a fine opposition leader to himself if he could be sent back in time 35 years.

    2. David Nutt has been posted about numerous times here on Boing Boing over the years.  When he was fired from his post because of his progressive take on marijuana and psychedelics, a doozy of a headline made the rounds:  “Nutt Sacked”.  So he’s been consistent on the issue.

    3. He did say something while holding the office. That’s why he is out of the job. If you wonder why they wait till they are “formers” before they speak out well now you know. Taking a anti drug war stance is career suicide in criminal justice.

      1. I don’t really
        wonder why – I just don’t like it. It sits in my melon about the same way as
        people who say “it is what it is” when faced with something they
        don’t like or agree with, but also won’t commit to any sort of action to alter
        it when they have the ability to do so. (even if they can’t change it – silence is a form of consent. So even if you can’t directly impact it, saying nothing is just as bad, if not worse.)
        Anyone who makes a living by actively supporting a
        war on personal freedom and then sees the proverbial light after they leave
        office isn’t really helping, and – at best – is just plain disingenuous.

        1. Anyone who makes a living by actively supporting a war on personal freedom and then sees the proverbial light after they leave office isn’t really helping, and – at best – is just plain disingenuous.

          Do you still have no idea what actually happened?

          1. I wasn’t referring to David Nutt regarding what you quoted, but those I mentioned earlier, who – admittedly – could have done something if they were more like Nutt. IE: The vast majority over at LEAP.

  4. Psychedelics, weed and (arguably) MDMA are things that should be available to people like alcohol is.

    I’ve done PLENTY of common psychedelics and a few obscure ones and they were universally awesome. They’re not for the fragile minded (for them I’d recommend MDMA) but they’re completely not the boogeyman popular culture would have you believe – even at high doses.

    A fellow psychonaut and I took 5g each of dried shrooms a week ago and went to a party. Suffice it to say I was likely a terrible conversationalist, but I ended up drinking nothing but water (cause it’s all I felt like). While many of the other party-goers left in taxis, covered in their own vomit, my friend and I walked home enjoying the carnival of colours.

    1. A friend of mine is doing research feeding psychedelics to rats, and after since seeing the fun her rats are having (swimming in the sawdust in their cages), she’s decided to try shrooms herself.

      1. I’m just gonna put this here and tell you that there are places online that will send you a print for the cost of postage.

        Be responsible.

    2. I’m to the point with shrooms that I don’t get nervous before ingestion any more.  Just excited.  Last time there was a big cat-sized crab hanging out with me in my blanket forest and it was wonderful.

      I’m not even sure how people “lose” themselves — I’ve never once forgotten that I ate a hallucinogenic, and that my perception of the world was therefore changed.  Even with part of me in another world, my feet are always firmly planted in reality.

      1. I’ve never once forgotten that I ate a hallucinogenic

        This. I have been to places where I felt close to that point, but it would take a serious dose of acid to get you to a point of complete delirium. My max to date is 4 tabs, but that measure is pretty irrelevant since strength varies significantly across batches.

        I like how you’re always commenting in these posts. One day I will visit the US again and at that time I hope to drop out with you and the other psychonaut Boingers.

        1. I have … a big soft spot for fungus. It’s one of the few things that will nearly kill my anxiety. :)

  5. It deserves bold and caps:

    THE WORST CASE OF SCIENTIFIC CENSORSHIP SINCE THE CATHOLIC CHURCH BANNED THE WORKS OF COPERNICUS AND GALILEO

    And a screaming FUCK YEAH and a fist in the air.

    And that’s just for the scientific angle. Who’s going to mention the social, philosophical, political, artistic, etc angles?

  6. The problem I foresee is the clichéd use of statistics to quickly undermine any changes to the law that may actually come to fruition.
    A redefinition of the law pertaining to psychedelics will almost certainly be accompanied (or at least, shortly followed) by a redefinition of the meaning of Mental Health.
    New statistics are still technically worse than damned lies.

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