Johns Hopkins is among several institutions challenging a key tenet of outlawing psychedelics: that they have "no medicinal use." Baltimore Magazine examines the progress made by key researchers Roland Griffiths and Bill Richards.
Ten years ago, Hopkins researchers, led by Griffiths and Bill Richards, a 76-year-old clinical psychologist whose work with psilocybin dates back to the heady days of psychedelic research in the early '60s, published their first paper on their new pilot studies. Cited as a landmark report by former National Institute on Drug Abuse Director Charles Schuster, the ongoing research at Hopkins—and now other universities—has begun revealing a host of potentially dramatic therapeutic applications for the ancient psychedelic used by indigenous Mexican and South American communities in religious rituals for thousands of years. Two examples: Hopkins' initial trial with heavy smokers documented an 80 percent abstinence rate more than a year out from the subject's session—an unheard of success rate that is roughly 2.5 times better than reported results of those taking varenicline, the active compound in Chantix, generally considered the most effective smoking cessation treatment option. In London, an Imperial College pilot study of a dozen individuals suffering from major depression for an average of 18 years—and who had previously tried at least two standard antidepressants—found that psilocybin sessions provided a reprieve from the depression in all 12 volunteers for three weeks and kept it at bay in five subjects for three months.
• The Existential Medicine (Baltimore)
Image: Jake Cook