Drug laws halt trials on magic mushrooms

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A TRIAL that could lead to radical magic mushroom treatments for depression has been stalled because of “absurd” regulations restricting the use of illegal drugs in research, it is claimed.

Study leader Professor David Nutt, controversially sacked from his role as the UK government’s chief drug adviser in 2009, argues that “archaic” rules obstructing scientific progress should be abolished.

His team at Imperial ­College London has uncovered evidence that the hallucinogen psilocybin may combat severe depression which resists conventional treatment.

The problem is that psilocybin is the psychoactive ingredient in so-called “magic mushrooms”, and banned as a Class A drug.

Although the Medical Research Council has awarded a £550,000 grant for the trial, Prof Nutt says the study has not yet been able to proceed.

“The trial hasn’t started yet because the big problem is getting hold of the drug,” he said.

“We’re not allowed to go and pick the mushrooms any more and finding a company to provide this ­illegal drug in a way that can be prepared for trial use as yet has proved impossible.

“We are between a rock and a hard place, and that’s very unfortunate because if this is an effective treatment, as it may well be for some people, then they are obviously being denied that possibility.”

Under the law, academic researchers are not allowed to manufacture their own Class A drugs and must ­obtain them from external sources.