A new public appeal, launched just days ago, aims at moving psilocybin from Schedule 1 to Schedule 2 of UK’s Misuse of Drugs 2001 legislation.
As all regulations, it determines the legal circumstances for possession, supply, production, export and import of the listed (so called “controlled”) drugs. The authorized scope depends on the assigned schedule, ranging from 1 to 5.
As in the U.S., UK’s Schedule 1 includes drugs considered to have little or no therapeutic value and are subjected to the most restrictive control, while Schedule 5 contains drugs with considered therapeutic value and therefore commonly available as over-the-counter medicines.
The first group’s substances cannot be lawfully possessed or prescribed unless under a research setting, for which a Home Office license must be required.
As psilocybin is currently considered, like MDMA and LSD, to be in the Schedule 1 category, the move would allow for the substance, already undergoing advanced clinical trials in a number of places all over the world, to skip “unnecessary barriers to scientific research which slow the development of new and vital treatments for a range of physical and mental health conditions” in the country.
Why is this proposal relevant? Antidepressant consumption has grown considerably over the last decade with “1 in every 10 pounds spent by the NHS is for mental health treatments.”
The case is made by recalling that no major developments in mental health treatments have been made since traditional Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) were developed over 50 years ago while, in the meantime, psilocybin in minimal doses is proving “to reduce the distress of those with terminal illness and treatment-resistant depression.”
The petition, similarly aligned with another recent psilocybin rescheduling petition led by UK prominent psychiatrists, concludes by stating that “No other intervention has been shown to have such significant long-term benefits after just a single exposure.”
By getting under the Schedule 2 category, prescription, possession and supply of psilocybin would be legal for doctors, physicians and patients. Some of the drugs currently included in this category are methadone and diamorphine (heroin), and cannabis (as of 2018).
The request will receive a government reply when 10,000 signatures are collected and will be considered for debate in Parliament once at 100,000 signatures.
The deadline for petitioners to gather the total amount is set for February 23, 2023. The clock is ticking and chances look good already.
Previous (Rejected) Petitions
Appeals to the British Parliament need to fulfill a set of standards in order to be considered. Recently, two other petitions calling for the rescheduling of psilocybin for medical research purposes have been declined: the first was launched in August 2021 and, with a closing date in February 2022, it got dismissed in face of its scant 103 signatures gathered. The second was initiated in December 2021, and got rejected as it overstepped the prior, still–running petition.
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