Psilocybin Could Be Legal for Therapy by 2021

Psilocybin Could Be Legal for Therapy by 2021

March 21, 2019

 

The psychoactive ingredient in magic mushrooms could soon be legal to use in a clinical setting.

For the first time in U.S. history, a psychedelic drug is on the fast track to getting approved for treating depression by the federal government. Late last month, Compass Pathways, a U.K.-based company that researches and develops mental health treatments, announced the FDA granted them what’s called a “breakthrough therapy designation” for their trials into psilocybin, the psychoactive ingredient in psychedelic mushrooms.

Researchers who pioneered psychedelic science agree — this is a landmark moment for their field.

“It really does represent a significant development in the whole history of psychedelic research,” says University of California, Los Angeles psychiatry and behavioral sciences professor Charles Grob, who conducted foundational psilocybin trials at UCLA in the mid-2000s.

To Grob and others, the FDA’s recognition of psilocybin isn’t just about psilocybin; It indicates a larger shift in how the federal government perceives psychedelic drugs. Researchers only began receiving approval to investigate psychedelics in the 90s, after they were banned from science for decades due to their association with Woodstock-era iconoclasts.

In August 2017, the FDA gave its first indication that times were changing when it granted MDMA — often confused with ecstasy — a breakthrough therapy designation for post-traumatic stress disorder. Researchers now see both the success of MDMA and psilocybin as a sign that “the psychedelic renaissance,” the resurgence of psychedelic drug research, is finally helping psychedelic medicine receive the recognition it deserves.

Rick Doblin, founder of the Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) and a psychedelic research pioneer, predicts that MDMA and psilocybin could now both be legal by 2021. They wouldn’t be legalized for prescription, but, rather, legalized to be administered by therapists who have been trained in what’s called “psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy.” In the case of psilocybin, a therapist or therapy team meets with the patient prior to their trip to psychologically prepare them; monitors them throughout their trip (typically eight hours or so); and then helps them process their experience afterwards.

If Compass is successful, psilocybin will be approved by the FDA for patients with treatment-resistant depression, or patients who have not responded to traditional anti-depressants. Part of the reason Compass received a breakthrough therapy designation is because there’s a dire need for novel depression treatments in the U.S.

 

Original article: RollingStone.

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