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Legalising Psychedelics

There is no defined road to legalising psychedelics, but there are many options available. Ismail Lourido Ali, of MAPS, discusses the important nuances in this Drug Science webinar on expanding access to psychedelics.

Due to the recent progress of medical cannabis legalisation, many expect psychedelics to follow a similar path of medical legalisation, followed by recreational decriminalisation, and then recreational legalisation. Similarly, patient narratives are predicted to play a major role in legislative change pertaining to psychedelics, just as they have in cannabis policy reform.

However, with the benefit of hindsight, why should this path to legalisation take place in the same sequential manner? Instead, medical and recreational policy reform could progress in parallel, and learn from the mistakes of cannabis policy reform.

For example, medical cannabis was legalised in the UK in 2018, but only 3 prescriptions have been made available on the NHS. Therefore, access to medical cannabis remains limited to those with sufficient wealth to afford private treatment, something which Project Twenty21 is working to rectify. At the same time, little has changed when it comes to the persecution of people who use cannabis recreationally, who are disproportionately more likely to come from low-income households. In this way, cannabis policy reform has benefited some demographics far more than others.

Drug policy reforms pertaining to psychedelics can avoid these issues, and instead improve access to effective medical treatments across all demographics while alleviating discrimination by law enforcement.

Ismail Lourido Ali is Policy & Advocacy Counsel for the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), where he supports the development and implementation of strategies to create legal access to psychedelic substances in medical, sacramental, and personal contexts. Ismail presently sits on the Board of Directors for Sage Institute and on the Advisory Committee of the Ayahuasca Defense Fund, and is part of Chacruna Institute’s Council for the Protection of Sacred Plants. Previously Ismail has served as Chair of the Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) Board of Directors, and has worked for the ACLU of Northern California’s Criminal Justice & Drug Policy Project, as well as for the International Human Rights Law Clinic at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, where he received his J.D.

This webinar was recorded during the Student Psychedelic Conference and included a live Q&A session from the audience. If you want to ensure that you don’t miss any of our events, so that you can ask your questions live, all you need to do is join the Drug Science Mailing List.

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