The International Therapeutic Psilocybin Rescheduling Initiative (ITPRI) has launched a campaign on January 11 to see medical mushroom reform happen on a global scale.
The organization argues that the antiquated 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances Act is long overdue for some changes. While the Act was created to target drugs that are harmful, ITPRI argues that recent therapeutic evidence and effectiveness of psilocybin warrants a change in scheduling.
“In most countries, legal control of psilocybin results from its Schedule I status under the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances,” ITPRI wrote in a press release. “Meant for dangerous drugs which create an especially serious risk to public health and whose therapeutic value is little to none, Schedule I drugs are subject to strict limits on their scientific and medical use. Schedule I licensing, safe-custody, security, manufacturing, quantity, and import/export restrictions result in a level of regulatory control and oversight that is drastically more onerous than for the Convention’s other three schedules. As a result, researchers wishing to study psilocybin face numerous regulatory hurdles which add significantly to the cost, complexity, and duration of research and can negatively impact ethical approvals, funding and collaboration.”
According to ITPRI, the 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances Act describes a Schedule I substance as “Substances whose liability to abuse constitutes an especially serious risk to public health and which have very limited, if any, therapeutic usefulness.”
Despite the growing potential of psilocybin as a medical treatment, progress has been hindered by the UN’s 51-year-old agreement. Professor David Nutt, head of Imperial College London’s Centre for Psychedelic Research and Founder of Drug Science, described the setback. “Psilocybin’s Schedule I status has severely limited—and continues to limit—neuroscience research and the development of treatments for patients.” Drug Science is one of many partners supporting this effort, including Beckley Foundation, MAPS, Mind Medicine Australia, Nierika A.C., Open Foundation and Osmond Foundation.
ITPRI’s plan is to inspire nations of the UN to initiate a review. “To ensure equity of access to psilocybin as a global public good, ITPRI is engaging, educating and mobilizing officials and other stakeholders without the ecosystem of UN institutions, member state permanent missions and NGOs that will be critical to achieving a review and change in scheduling,” the organization says of its rescheduling plan. Once the process has begun, the World Health Organization (WHO) will present a critical review, which could result in a recommendation to reschedule if two-thirds of the member countries agree.
ITPRI Co-founder and Chair of the Board of Directors, Christopher Koddermann, expressed the certainty that the ITPRI’s new campaign will help move things along. “Given today’s scientific understanding of psilocybin’s high potential therapeutic value and low risk of dependence, a change of its status as a Schedule I drug is long overdue.”
In December 2020, the UN Commission for Narcotic Drugs has voted to reclassify cannabis, and more recently, the UN voted against a ban on kratom in December 2021. Furthermore, many states and cities in the U.S. have embraced decriminalization of mushrooms to allow medical patients to gain easier access to psilocybin mushrooms as a treatment. The state of Oregon was one of the first to embrace psilocybin mushrooms legalization.
Businesses such as Dr. Bronner’s are going all-in to support psilocybin legalization, both in Connecticut as well as throughout the U.S. Canada has even eased access for mushrooms as well, thanks in part to the rising amount of evidence that suggests its potential as a medicine. The United Kingdom’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson expressed consideration of psilocybin therapy last year. All of this and more are contributing factors to the world’s changing view of psilocybin as medicine.