80% Of US Voters Support Easing Research Restrictions, Plus Other Insights From UC-Berkeley Poll

Zinger Key Points
  • 70% of U.S. voters participating said they would trust nurses, doctors and psychiatrists on information regarding psychedelics.
  • The least trusted groups were elected officials from political parties and faith leaders.

The following is Part II of our survey coverage. For Part I, click here.

The UC-Berkeley Center for the Science of Psychedelics (UCSP) conducted a U.S. registered-voters poll and, having presented some of the findings at MAPS' recent Psychedelic Science gathering, spoke to Benzinga on their interpretation. 

Eighty percent of the 1,500 survey participants said they support making it easier for scientists and researchers to study psychedelics. 

The center’s psychedelics survey project lead, Taylor West, says this number transpires that people are interested in research and believes it would be supportive for people aiming for policy changes to take to legislators, as voters wouldn’t be upset if they alleviated research restrictions.

Seventy percent of respondents still believe the word “dangerous” fits to psychedelics, and that the substances hold potential long-term negative impacts.

This, researchers say, likely owes to the government’s misinformation campaign against psychedelics in the 70s, as there’s not much research supporting these ideas. 

“That is a perception still quite strongly held in the general public, so if your goal is more mainstream acceptance of psychedelics, education around long-term effects is something we're going to need to address,” says West.

Also, considering the word “dangerous” can mean different things to people, such as taking psychedelics in certain contexts or when not used responsibly.

“Definitely, while the policy stuff was a lot of good news and a lot of reason for optimism, this is a little bit of bringing folks back to Earth in terms of what people are actually thinking outside our bubble,” added BCSP’s executive director Imran Khan.

  • Respondents didn’t generally agree with statements of psychedelics being good for self-improvement and for society, or “something I'm interested in learning about” and “something for people like me.”

“What that says is, despite this surprising support for policy change, it seems that the general population still thinks of these as pretty fringe substances, which again, isn't surprising, you know, we're in the early stages of this sort of second psychedelic renaissance,” West told Benzinga. “So it's not surprising that people are just starting to hear about it. They might be interested in saying ‘Okay, we shouldn't make this impossible to access for people, but it's not for me.’”

She sees a red flag in this personal perception, that “something is so other than it is not for me,” or “these are not people like me,” because it indicates the policy support could be somewhat fragile. 

“There’s a big gap between personal perception and policy. And this is not a great foundation.”

On the educational front:

  • +70% of U.S. voters participating said they would trust nurses, doctors and psychiatrists on information regarding psychedelics. 

“A really strong trust that is not surprising as, by and large, these groups tend to trust society, and also that psychedelics are understood as drugs with potential medical applications,” said Khan.

Additionally:

  • +50% would trust indigenous practitioners in psychedelic medicine, the FDA, and veterans that have tried the therapy; while approximately 40% would trust law enforcement, psychedelic guides, and parents’ groups.

  • The least trusted groups were elected officials from political parties and faith leaders, with over 30% of total respondents saying they are “very suspicious.”

BCSP is planning on making the poll a longitudinal study, collecting this data yearly toward noting the underlying trends and the impact of policy and educational changes. 

“So when we start to see, for instance, Oregon and Colorado and their services rollout, of FDA’s potential authorization of MDMA’s therapeutic use, or when maybe more people around the U.S. use psychedelics in a therapeutic context, it will be really interesting to see how individual support and perceptions of psychedelics change,” Khan concluded.

Photo: Benzinga edit with photo by Vector Tradition, Kateryna Kon and SvetaZi on Shutterstock logos on Wikipedia.

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Posted In: CannabisNewsPsychedelicsGuidanceFDALegalManagementExclusivesMarketsInterviewImran KhanNational SurveyPsychedelic-Assisted TherapiesUC Berkeley’s Center for the Science of Psychedelics
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