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Closed petition Reschedule psilocybin for medical research on untreatable conditions

Move psilocybin (the psychoactive compound found in “magic mushrooms”) to Schedule 2 of the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001, reducing unnecessary barriers to scientific research which slow the development of new and vital treatments for a range of physical and mental health conditions in the UK.

More details

Antidepressant use in England has doubled over the last decade and 1 in every 10 pounds spent by the NHS is for mental health treatments. There have been no significant developments since SSRI antidepressants were developed more than 50 years ago. One single dose of psilocybin has been shown in studies to reduce the distress of those with terminal illness and treatment-resistant depression. No other intervention has been shown to have such significant long-term benefits after just a single exposure.

This petition is closed All petitions run for 6 months

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Government responded

This response was given on 20 October 2022

There are no plans to reschedule psilocybin to Schedule 2 of the 2001 Regulations. There is an established process for the development of medicines, including those containing Schedule 1 drugs.

Read the response in full

The Government sympathises with patients suffering from distressing conditions and can understand the desire to seek the best possible treatment available.

The Government’s licensing regime for controlled drugs, supported by legislation, seeks to strike a balance that enables legitimate research to take place in a secure environment while ensuring that harmful drugs are not misused and do not get into the hands of criminals. A number of studies into the use of psilocybin as part of the treatment for mental health conditions have been or are being conducted in the UK. However, psilocybin has not yet been granted a marketing authorisation (product licence) by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) for use as a medicine.

There is an established process for the development of medicines, overseen by the MHRA, which enables medicines (including those containing Schedule 1 controlled drugs such as psilocybin) to be developed, evaluated in clinical trials and licensed based on an assessment of their safety, quality and efficacy before being made available to patients in the UK. The MHRA supports the safe and scientifically sound conduct of trials in this area and also provides regulatory and scientific advice to companies at all stages of developing medicines. Should an application be submitted for a marketing authorisation (product licence), it will ultimately be a decision for the MHRA whether to license psilocybin as a therapy.

If a psilocybin-based medicine is made available following an assessment by the MHRA, the Government will seek and then consider advice from the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) on its scheduling under the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001. Such advice is a statutory requirement and will be considered before any decision can be taken on scheduling under the 2001 Regulations.

Home Office

MPs debate access to psilocybin treatments

On Thursday 18 May, MPs debated access to psilocybin treatments.

The debate was led by Charlotte Nichols MP. Robert Jenrick MP, the Minister of State for Immigration, responded for the Government.

The debate was scheduled by the Backbench Business Committee.

What are backbench business debates?

Backbench business debates give backbenchers (MPs who aren’t ministers or shadow ministers) an opportunity to secure a debate on a topic of their choice, either in the Chamber or Westminster Hall.

MPs can make a request for a debate to the Backbench Business Committee, who hears and decides which debates to schedule.

Backbench debates can either be general debates (which do not end in a vote) or be on a substantive motion (which calls for an action and can end in a vote). This debate was a general debate.

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MPs investigate illegal drug use and its effects on society and the economy

A group of MPs called the Home Affairs Committee have published a report on the effectiveness of current laws on drugs and the impact of drug use in the UK.

Their report calls on the Government to implement the following key measures:

  • A new legislative and funding framework that enables practical, risk-reducing interventions such as establishing a pilot drug consumption facility.
  • A move away from an abstinence-only approach towards harm reduction with improved cross-working between police, health and social services.
  • Greater provision of cannabis based products for medicinal (CBPMs) use where there is comprehensive evidence that it can be an effective form of treatment.
  • An urgent reclassification of psychedelic drugs - such as psilocybin - in order to facilitate research on their medical or therapeutic value.
  • Responsibility for drugs policy to be held jointly by the Home Office and the Department of Health.

The Government now must respond to the committee's report, which was published on 31 August, within two months. The committee will publish the Government’s response on its website.

What is the Home Affairs Committee?

The Home Affairs Committee is a cross-party group of MPs that look into the work of the Home Office and its associated public bodies.

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