Intended for healthcare professionals

Views & Reviews Personal View

Psychedelic drugs should be legally reclassified so that researchers can investigate their therapeutic potential

BMJ 2015; 350 doi: (Published 26 May 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h2902
  1. James J H Rucker, specialist registrar in adult psychiatry and honorary clinical lecturer, MRC Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Centre, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King’s College, London, SE5 8AF
  1. james.rucker{at}

Trials of physiologically safe and non-addictive drugs such as LSD are almost impossible, writes James J H Rucker, calling on the authorities to downgrade their unnecessarily restrictive class A, schedule 1 classification

Psychedelic drugs, especially lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) and psilocybin, which is found in the Psilocybe genus of “magic” mushrooms that grow throughout the United Kingdom, were extensively used and researched in clinical psychiatry before their prohibition in 1967. Hundreds of papers, involving tens of thousands of patients, presented evidence for their use as psychotherapeutic catalysts of mentally beneficial change in many psychiatric disorders, problems of personality development, recidivistic behaviour, and existential anxiety.1

This research abruptly ended after 1967, when psychedelics were legally classified as schedule 1 drugs under the UK Misuse of Drugs Regulations and as class A drugs under the UK Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. Schedule 1 in the UK broadly mirrors schedule I of the 1971 United Nations Convention on Psychotropic Substances, adoption of which is a requirement of UN membership.2 This classification denoted psychedelic drugs as having no accepted medical use and the greatest potential for harm, despite the existence of research evidence to the contrary.

Indeed, in 1992 John Ehrlichman, …

View Full Text

Log in

Log in through your institution


* For online subscription