Global Perspectives on Psychedelics Regulation

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Experts discuss the benefits and drawbacks of existing regulatory frameworks for psychedelics.

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Although the legal status of psychedelic drugs has remained fixed for decades in most countries, the tides are beginning to turn.

In 1970, the U.S. Congress adopted the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), a statute that limited clinical research into psychedelic drugs for psychiatric therapy by codifying penalties for the manufacture, possession, and use of many psychedelic substances. Soon after passage of the CSA, international drug control treaties—such as the United Nations Convention on Psychotropic Substances of 1971echoed the United States in its rejection of psychedelic experimentation. Legal restrictions imposed barriers on psychedelics research that have impaired development in the field for decades.

Today, however, public and scientific interest in psychedelics is growing due to mental health crises and public health needs around the world. Some psychedelics offer the potential to diversify psychotherapy and provide treatment options for mental health disorders resistant to traditional therapeutic approaches. They may also pose an opportunity to reduce health care costs associated with serious mental illness and improve health care quality nationwide.

Despite the potential for psychedelics to pave the way for needed health care reform, regulatory hurdles persist. Although some nations have decriminalized some psychedelics, such as Australia and Switzerland, others struggle to disentangle psychedelics’ important medical uses from their colored past.

The Regulatory Review has invited scholars from around the world to share perspectives and discuss differing approaches to psychedelic regulation. These experts explore varying regulatory models and how they strive to balance safety and access to psychedelic drugs. In providing international perspectives on this pressing regulatory issue, the contributors highlight challenges for policymakers and suggest areas for reform.

This series features contributions from: Molly Candon of the University of Pennsylvania; I. Glenn Cohen of Harvard Law School; Victoria Litman of Roger Williams University School of Law; Joanna Neill of the University of Manchester; Daniel Perkins of The University of Melbourne; and Joshua Siegel of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

Branching Regulatory Paths and Dead Ends in Psychedelics

April 15, 2024 | I. Glenn Cohen, Harvard Law School

The convergence of current psychedelics regulatory pathways may bring benefits and new challenges.

A Roadmap to Reimbursement for Psychedelics

April 16, 2024 | Molly Candon, University of Pennsylvania

Insurance reimbursement for psychedelic therapy is integral to treatment accessibility.

Are Psychedelics Safe Enough for Recreational Use?

April 17, 2024 | Joshua Siegel, Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis

Policymakers should account for the relatively low risks of psychedelics use when deciding how to regulate them.

Why We Need To Talk About Psychedelic Dispensaries

April 18, 2024 | Victoria Litman, Roger Williams University School of Law

Dispensaries could fill the regulatory void for psychedelics and promote public health.

It Is High Time the U.K. Changes Psychedelics Laws

April 22, 2024 | Joanna Neill, University of Manchester

Legislators should lower regulatory hurdles impeding psilocybin assisted psychotherapy research.

A New Era of Psychedelic Medicine in Australia

April 23, 2024 | Daniel Perkins, University of Melbourne

Australia implements a new framework for regulating the medicinal use of psychedelic substances such as MDMA and psilocybin.