Dr. David Nutt's Devastating Assessment of Psychedelics Prohibition

By David Jenison on April 2, 2019

Dr. David Nutt served in several government health roles in England and infamously published "a rational scale" of drug risk that ranked alcohol and tobacco as more dangerous than cannabis and other recreational drugs. The good doctor ruffled feathers again recently by arguing that the fight against prohibition should not be limited to cannabis.

"Beyond cannabis: why we should look at legalising other illegal drugs for medical use to benefit patients," published in the Pharmaceutical Journal, called on the British government (and others) to legalize the medical use of other fully prohibited drugs like LSD, MDMA and psilocybin (magic mushrooms). In making his argument, Dr. Nutt provided an estimate of the lives lost due to psychedelic prohibition.

"The past 50 years of denying access to these drugs have seen the worst ever censorship of scientific research, affecting the lives of millions of patients," Dr. Nutt stated. "At a conservative estimate, over the past half-century, 150 million people worldwide have died prematurely owing to alcoholism; if LSD could have helped, for example, only 10 percent achieve abstinence, around 15 million premature deaths could have been prevented. As with the cannabis ban, it is the patients and their relatives who suffer at the hands of politicians."

The idea of LSD as a therapeutic aid in treating alcohol addiction goes back to the early days of the drug, and other studies suggest it might reduce the risk of suicide. The same can be said for the effects of psilocybin on tobacco addiction and MDMA on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), among many others, which suggests the premature death count that resulted from prohibition could be much higher than 15 million.

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