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Drug Censorship Hindering Research PDF Print E-mail
Written by Brain22   
Wednesday, 12 June 2013
Having laws making it illegal to possess cannabis, magic mushroom, MDMA (ecstasy) and other psychoactive drugs amounts to scientific censorship, researchers from Imperial College London and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill wrote in the journal Nature Reviews Neuroscience.

The United Nations conventions on drugs in the 1960s and 1970s have contributed negatively to science in two majors ways, the authors added:

They compounded the harms of drugs They produced the worst censorship of research for over three centuries

These arbitrary laws have set back research & development in such areas as consciousness by several decades, and halted any investigations into promising medical therapies, the researchers wrote.

Laws dating back to the 1960s seriously undermine scientists' ability to investigate such drugs as cannabis, psychedelics, and MDMA.

Professor David Nutt, Edmond J Safra Professor of Neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College London, said:

"The decision to outlaw these drugs was based on their perceived dangers, but in many cases the harms have been overstated and are actually less than many legal drugs such as alcohol.

The laws have never been updated despite scientific advances and growing evidence that many of these drugs are relatively safe. And there appears to be no way for the international community to make such changes."

Laws hamper research into depression and PTSD The authors argue that research into the mechanisms of action of psychoactive drugs and their potential for the treatment of depression and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) are seriously hampered because of their illegal status. In many cases R&D is impossible.

Prof Nutt wrote:

"This hindering of research and therapy is motivated by politics, not science. It's one of the most scandalous examples of scientific censorship in modern times. The ban on embryonic stem cell research by the Bush administration is the only possible contender, but that only affected the USA not the whole world."

Pharmaceutical productivity in the United Kingdom has been harmed by the country's restrictive drug laws, Nutt and colleagues pointed out. This is a pity, because many of the psychoactive elements of the cannabis plant, for example, were discovered in the UK. However, developing them into medications "has been severely hampered by excessive regulation".

The authors believe there should be exemptions in the law for psychoactive drugs in research. Prof. Nutt said "If we adopted a more rational approach to drug regulation, it would empower researchers to make advances in the study of consciousness and brain mechanisms of psychosis, and could lead to major treatment innovations in areas such as depression and PTSD."

The British Neuroscience Association and the British Association for Psychopharmacology have endorsed this call for reform. The authors are calling on other academic organizations to do the same.

In January 2012, Prof. Nutt gave a briefing about some studies on the Psilocybin Mushroom, better known as Magic Mushrooms or Shrooms, and often referred to under the umbrella term psychedelics. He explained that psychedelics should be successful for treating people with depression.

Despite legal restrictions, scientists have managed to discover several therapeutic possibilities with the cannabis plant. An article in Annals of Oncology (February 2011 issue) explained that the active ingredients in cannabis can restore appetite and sense of taste in cancer patients.

Written by Christian Nordqvist Copyright: Medical News Today
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