Psychoactive Substances Bill

 Written evidence submitted by The Psychedelic Society (PSB 04)

 Executive Summary

 

The Psychedelic Society is a membership organisation for users of psychedelic substances with over 7000 members in the UK

We are submitting evidence as we believe psychedelics should be legal for ceremonial and therapeutic use, and there is at least one substance being used in this way, 1P-LSD, that would be prohibited under the Bill

We recommend adding an exemption category for ‘Psychedelic substances used in a ceremonial or therapeutic context’, and exempting 1P-LSD under this category

 Introduction

 

1. The Psychedelic Society is a membership organisation that brings together users of psychedelic substances. We have over 7000 members across the UK and 6 local groups that hold regular events including talks, film screenings and stalls.

2. We have a good relationship with organisations including Transform, Release and the Beckley Foundation.

3. We are submitting evidence as we believe psychedelics should be legal for ceremonial and therapeutic use, and there is at least one substance being used in this way, 1P-LSD, that would be prohibited under the Bill.

 Psychedelics are low risk

 

4. Psychedelics are a particular class of psychoactive substance that induce an altered state of consciousness sometimes compared to a 'waking dream'. They have been used in ritual and ceremonial settings for thousands of years. Examples include ayahuasca (used by indigenous South American communities), peyote (used by indigenous Mexican communities), psilocybin mushrooms (‘magic mushrooms’) and LSD.

5. Although they can induce powerful mental effects, they are non-toxic to the body, with a therapeutic index (ratio of lethal dose:effective dose, a measure of safety) orders of magnitude higher than alcohol and caffeine. They are not considered addictive, indeed, they are being investigated as a treatment for addiction to substances including alcohol and heroin.

6. A 2013 study of more than 130,000 people found that psychedelic use was not indicative of increased mental health problems. In fact, some use of psychedelics corresponded with lower rates of psychological distress. A 2010 study rated magic mushrooms and LSD as among the safest of 20 commonly used drugs, significantly safer than alcohol and tobacco.

 Psychedelics have significant potential benefits

 

7. Psychedelics bring about profound and meaningful experiences. In a 2011 study by the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, 18 healthy adults participated in five eight-hour sessions with either psilocybin (the active ingredient in magic mushrooms) or a placebo. Fourteen months after participating in the study, 94% of those who received the drug said the experiment was one of the top five most meaningful experiences of their lives; 39% said it was the single most meaningful experience. A follow-up study found that participants had long-term increases in a personality attribute known as ‘openness’, linked to creativity, emotional intelligence and tolerance of others. The findings from these studies correlate with accounts from our members, many of whom say the ceremonial use of psychedelics has changed their life for the better.

8. Psychedelics are also being investigated as a treatment for various conditions including depression , anxiety, addiction and PTSD . Many of our members report having significantly benefitted from the use of psychedelics to self-treat these conditions.

 1P-LSD

 

9. 1P-LSD is a lysergamide (LSD-like) psychedelic. It has only been available since the start of 2015 and as such can be considered a ‘novel psychoactive substance’. Structural analysis and submissions from our members indicate that 1P-LSD has a similar safety profile to other lysergamides i.e. it is non-toxic and non-addictive.

10. Many of our members who use psychedelics in ceremonial and therapeutic settings and who do not want to break the law have started using 1P-LSD as an alternative to prohibited psychedelics. In banning the trade in 1P-LSD, the Bill would deprive us of this choice and essentially force us to break the law in the continuation of our legitimate practice.

11. Following the recent suggestion of the APPG for Drug Policy Reform, we believe ceremonial and therapeutic use of 1P-LSD (and other psychedelics) may be protected under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (the right to private and family life).

 Recommendations

 

12. Add an exemption category to Schedule 1 (Exempted Substances) for ‘Psychedelic substances used in a ceremonial or therapeutic context’, and exempt 1P-LSD under this category:

Psychedelic substances used in a ceremonial or therapeutic context

1P-LSD, when used in a ceremonial or therapeutic context.

13. We would be happy to provide further written and/or oral advice expanding on the definitions of these terms.

October 2015

Prepared 27th October 2015