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Ingredients Scheduled under Drug Legislation: Review

Volume 722: debated on Monday 14 November 2022

11. Whether she is taking steps with Cabinet colleagues to ensure that the potential health benefits of ingredients scheduled under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 and the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001 are kept under review. (902167)

Drug control seeks to strike a balance between preventing criminality on the one hand and allowing access for legitimate use, such as medicines development, on the other. The Government are guided in their decisions by the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs as a well-established process for taking these decisions, and of course we follow the expert advice.

Psilocybin should never have been designated a schedule 1 substance, but this position by the Home Office has become even more untenable following publication this month of the largest multi-site phase 2b trial of psilocybin for treatment-resistant depression. The study found rapid and enduring reductions in depression symptoms on a 25 mg dose. The further, very promising research in the UK is being severely hindered by psilocybin’s schedule 1 status and the prohibitive associated costs for our academic researchers. Will the Home Secretary finally commit to rescheduling psilocybin and related compounds to schedule 2, to allow more research into mental health treatment paradigms that could see a happier, healthier and more productive country and a growth boom for our science, innovation and pharmacology sectors?

The drug to which the hon. Lady refers is an MDMA-based medicine. The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs is currently considering the barriers to legitimate research that are posed by controlled drugs. Once we have had its advice on the topic, including the implications for psychedelic drugs, such as MDMA and psilocybin, we will obviously take an appropriate decision in relation to research. In relation to more widespread availability, we will follow the decisions made by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence before reaching any such decision ourselves.