In a recent in-depth discussion, Crispin Blunt, Member of Parliament for the UK Conservative Party, emphasised the need for robust reform in UK drug policy, specifically regarding psychedelics.
He underscored the immense potential these substances hold in contributing to advancements in mental health treatment and medicine.
Crispin Blunt’s journey in drug policy reform began in 2017, following his tenure as a Prison Minister.
Witnessing the societal consequences of the country’s current drug policies led him to take up the mantle as a conservative voice in the area.
“Despite the current view, there appears to be massive potential in psychedelic research. The argument against allowing research in this field is practically non-existent,” Blunt argues.
He took on the co-chairmanship of the All Parliamentary Group (APG) on Drug Reform, aiming to bring the dialogue about drug reform into the centre ground of politics.
However, Blunt found the pace of psychedelic research, particularly the rescheduling of substances like psilocybin for medicinal use, disappointingly slow.
“Here we are, four years later, and we haven’t made much progress despite putting forth formal requests to officials and the Prime Minister himself,” Blunt laments.
In response to the sluggish pace of reform, Blunt established the Conservative Drug Policy Group in 2019, aiming to create a bridge between policymakers and researchers in the psychedelic space.
Blunt stressed that the potential benefits of psychedelics should not be ignored. According to him, these substances could help address the root cause of mental health issues, unlike most current treatments that only manage the symptoms.
“We prescribed SSRIs to help deal with the symptoms, but we don’t deal with the root cause, which it appears that psychedelics can achieve,” he notes.
Despite the challenges, Blunt remains optimistic about the future of psychedelic research in the UK.
He calls on policymakers to recognise the urgency of the situation and the importance of maintaining pace with countries like the US, Canada, and Australia in this promising area of research.
“We want to be a country that is strong in biosciences. The Prime Minister has created a Secretary of State for Science. It’s obvious what we need to do. Very importantly now, the Royal College of Psychiatrists has moved onside on this. Now we can all put rocket boosters under this. We should be leading the United States, Canada, and Australia, not going limply in their wake and watching our best researchers leave the nation,” he asserts.
“We need to focus on the harms and try to reduce the harms done to society by drugs. Prohibition has turned out to be a pretty disastrous way to limit those harms. What you do is put the supply chain into the hands of criminals who don’t have any accountability at all to trading standards or to their customers,” he explains.
Blunt urges for a shift to a health-led drug policy, arguing that substances like cannabis are already widely used recreationally. He suggests it would be better if such products’ strengths were known and delivered through a regulated system with age protection.“
”Ideally, it’s not as though cannabis isn’t being used recreationally. You can smell it anywhere, and the stuff being smoked is actually quite dangerous if you have a young mind, and you’re vulnerable to psychosis,” Blunt warns.
With recent backing from the Royal College of Psychiatrists, Crispin Blunt MP hopes that psychedelic research in the UK will gain the attention and funding it deserves. Despite the roadblocks, he remains resolute in his mission to bring about significant, meaningful change in the country’s approach to drug policy and psychedelic research.