There is currently a petition to reschedule psilocybin from Schedule 1 to Schedule 2. Substances are scheduled in the UK according to the Misuse of Drugs Regulations of 2001. The petition ends on the 3rd of February 2023, and at the time of writing this article, it has 5895 signatures. At 10,000 signatures, it will receive an official reply from the government; at 100,000 signatures, it will be up for debate in Parliament.
According to the regulations mentioned above, Schedule 1 substances are considered to be dangerous or addictive with no medical purpose, whereas Schedule 5 substances are considered safe and have proven medical benefit.
The move to Schedule 2 would make research on psilocybin much easier, as any possession or prescription of a Schedule 1 substance for research requires a license from the Home Office.
Substances under Schedule 2 can be prescribed by doctors and are legal for patients and physicians to possess. This would allow for larger trials to take place, potentially bringing psilocybin into play as a new treatment option for depression.
According to the UK NHS (National Health Service), around 10% of national spending goes towards mental health treatments. This is a fairly large mental health bill for a country.
Not much advancement has been made in mental health since the discovery of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) which are used in modern antidepressants.
Psilocybin in small doses has shown promise in the treatment of Treatment-Resistant Depression, and it has been used successfully to relieve the stress of terminal illness. It follows that psilocybin could represent a groundbreaking new direction in treatments of mental health issues and away from mainstream antidepressants.
According to a 2021 research paper, psilocybin is reported to be the safest of all the psychedelic drugs, and there is significant evidence-based data to suggest that psilocybin could be a very effective treatment for mood and anxiety disorders. This represents a well of potential relief for sufferers.
The same paper also explores psilocybin-assisted therapy as a treatment for many forms of substance addiction, depression, psychopathy, BPD (Bipolar Personality Disorder), NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder), epilepsy, pains, and inflammation.
While the UK still has psilocybin classified as a dangerous drug with little to no medical application, EU countries are going ahead with research related to psilocybin and its psychological benefits. Traditionally, many countries in the EU tend to have a more progressive approach to previously taboo topics, while the UK still seems to cling to the outdated perspectives of the Boomer generation.
The EU is taking mental health very seriously, referring to the “second pandemic” of mental health issues. A cross-party group of MEPs has been set up specifically to discuss the medical application of psilocybin as a means to address the knock-on effects of the 2020 pandemic. The negative consequences of the extended lockdown periods, as well as the subsequent effects on the economies of the world and the accompanying stresses have shed a startling and unexpected light on the fragility of the world’s collective mental stability.
Doctors and other healthcare professionals are now looking into alternative options to prescription antidepressants which can have negative side-effects on the patient. This new direction in medical focus might signal a push from the medical authorities to go ahead with the rescheduling of psilocybin to allow for further investigation of the health benefits of those types of mushrooms.
Hopefully, this petition signals a step in the same direction as the UK’s EU neighbors. With nearly six thousand signatures already, it seems the citizens of the UK are ready for a change.