On Thursday 18th May, the House of Commons in the UK debated access to psilocybin treatment with a particular reference to reclassifying the drug so that researchers could continue to explore the possible benefits of psilocybin on mental health.
The debate was opened by Charlotte Nichols MP who was followed by Crispin Blunt MP and Ronnie Cowan MP.
In quite a rare sight in the House of Commons these days, the psilocybin debate received support from all three who comes from different parties, Labour, Conservatives, and the SNP respectively.
It should be noted that these MPs were not asking the government to legalise or even decriminalise psilocybin.
Rather, they are asking the government to reschedule the drug so that it becomes easier for scientists to perform research and allow the possibility that the drug can be used as a medicine should that research be positive.
Charlotte Nichols bravely discussed her experience of living with PTSD and the consistent struggle that such an illness can bring. However, she believes psilocybin offers her and other people who struggle a chance:
“I am hopeful that this sort of treatment may offer a light at the end of a very dark tunnel and finally give me my life back. The evidence shows that psilocybin, as with other psychedelics, can be such an effective treatment for PTSD that following a successful course of psychedelic-assisted therapy…they are all but cured.”
Crispin Blunt used his time in the House of Commons to highlight the struggle that researchers have in attempting to obtain and then comply with a licence to perform research on psilocybin.
He noted that both Australia and the U.S. were far ahead of the UK in this regard and that the eventual brain drain as our scientists disappear would be detrimental to the nation.
Crispin Blunt was also critical of his party who sent the Immigration Minister to respond to the debate, but his main argument highlighted how the current law is outdated and needed urgently updating:
“Surely now the Minister, who has so kindly stood in for his colleague, is appreciating the scale of the hospital pass he has received this afternoon. Add in the modest consideration that the size of the psychedelics market is set to grow to $10 billion by 2027, and the fact that today’s proposition enjoys four to one support with the public and has the potential to revolutionise the lives of millions, and the Minister is invited to defend the Government’s position, which is unethical, immoral and wholly counter to the national interest, however we express it. It will not stand the test of time—change it now.”
An unlikely ally appeared towards the end of the debate when Danny Kruger voiced his support for rescheduling.
While warning that psilocybin may not be a silver bullet, he did agree that so far the evidence looks promising and the government should ease the rules so that more research can be conducted.
The House of Commons debate on psilocybin was a small, but important step towards rescheduling the drug for the benefit of the nation. However, it remains to be seen whether the government will listen.
To view the debate in the House of Commons about psilocybin in full, click here.