MP Crispin Blunt has launched an economic investigation following the Home Office’s response to the recent call for the rescheduling of psilocybin.
The non-profit Conservative Drug Policy Reform Group (CDPRG), formed by MP Crispin Blunt, collaborated on a report with the Adam Smith Institute calling for the Home Office to reschedule psilocybin from Schedule 1 to Schedule 2 for research purposes. Responding to the report a, Home Office spokesperson said the current classification of psilocybin under Schedule 1 does not prevent research or clinical trials.
The report, ‘Medicinal Use of Psilocybin: Reducing restrictions on research and treatment’, argues that Schedule 1 research is too costly, inhibiting research and clinical trials, and that rescheduling of the compound would not pose a risk to an increase in illicit use.
The Home Office response to rescheduling calls
The Home Office has stated its stance, noting that Schedule 1 does not prevent research or clinical trials under a home office licence, however, Blunt points out that this does not address all of the findings in the report, including that mental health puts an economic and social burden on society and the valuable role that psilocybin could play in mitigating this impact.
Blunt said: “The Home Office response is contradicted by half a century of evidence, which makes it clear that to date they have struck the wrong balance. We can find not a single example in the history of the current drug law framework where a drug listed under Schedule 2 has found its way out of clinical trials and into the hands of criminals. The risks with psilocybin therapies are even lower because the drug is not given to patients to take home. In other words, there is no evidence of any benefit given the objective of Home Office policy of this drug being Schedule 1 as opposed to 2. But the costs are probably enormous.
“We will now commission research into identifying just how much economic damage has been done by this state of affairs, in relation to the expenses around research. The damage that has been done to the mental health of the nation by this over-regulation, however, is incalculable – but since it has been cumulative over half a century, it is highly likely that this too is highly economically significant.”
Investigating the damage of drug policy
A peer-reviewed economic analysis of the costs and delays that Schedule 1 classification imposes upon research has now been commissioned by the Conservative Drug Policy Reform Group.
This new report, planned for publication this Autumn, will quantify the extent of these economic costs, which have the effect of reducing the number of clinical studies being undertaken, the number of trial participants recruited, and the time that a study takes to complete. This dramatically stunts the growth of the UK life sciences sector and slows the development of important new medicines.
The analysis will also assess the potential savings that could be achieved by moving psilocybin to Schedule 2, which notably already contains much more dangerous substances than psilocybin and which are at higher risk of diversion, such as fentanyl, heroin, and cocaine.
Blunt added: “The case for this limited but important change is overwhelming. We’re confident it will be addressed at some point, but for every day of delay, someone, or indeed many someones, are hurting somewhere unnecessarily.”