Psychedelics to Combat Mental Illness
The last time I bombarded you with mental health numbers around the world; they are staggering and tragic and not getting any better. The WHO (World Health Organization) says 800 million people worldwide suffer from Mental Health Disorders. Treatment costs, lost work, and social tolls amount to a 3 trillion dollar drag on the global economy. Money talks: anything with a price tag with that many zeros are going to get attention. It’s estimated that Mental Health is a 4.5 trillion-dollar Industry and it’s getting attention.
As far back as the 50s researchers were starting to discover the healing properties of psychedelics like LSD, psilocybin (magic mushrooms), and mescaline-a psychedelic substance found in certain cacti. By the mid-60s hundreds of studies supported the use of psychedelics to treat mental problems like depression, anxiety, and addiction. But then along came to a Harvard psychologist Timothy Leary who began taking LSD and psychedelic mushrooms and giving them to his students and research subjects. He ultimately advocated for the mass use of LSD. Leary became the face of the counterculture and tainted the reputation of psychedelics thereby setting legitimate research back 50 years. Street chemists were soaking a piece of paper with LSD then cutting it into small tabs which when placed on or under the tongue provided a hallucinogenic trip. It was uncontrolled and led to some tragic ends. I had an old high school friend who used LSD and years later had a bad trip “flashback” and killed himself with a shotgun.
In 1971 President Richard Nixon declared WAR ON DRUGS and the DEA classified most psychedelics and cannabis as Schedule1 drugs. It was so extreme in those days I had arrested people and charged them with a felony for having marijuana seeds on the floor of their car, no kidding. In the 60s I was a police officer, and my future wife was a beautiful young Flower Child hanging out in the Haight/Ashbury district of San Francisco. I used to ask an adult man that I had to arrest if he thought we should legalize POT and to a man, the answer was always no; it had been their “gateway” to other drugs. Heroin was the thing back then.
The Schedule1 “lockdown” and bad reputation of psychedelics essentially halted legitimate research until now. The DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) has conceded research. It’s simply too big a problem with too big a price tag of money and human suffering to continue to ignore.
Since 1971 the DEA has been the tip of the spear in the fight against illegal drugs and trafficking. Cannabis and psychedelics were classified Schedule1: Highly addictive with no medical use. Now many states have passed legislation legalizing cannabis for recreational and medical use, but the DEA has held firm and it has rejected many petitions calling for the reclassification of cannabis and psychedelics to Schedule 111 (therapeutic drugs available via a prescription). It’s only a matter of time before the DEA reclassifies psychedelics to Schedule111-grouping them with common prescription medicines like Tylenol with Codeine or Vicodin. As governments around the world loosen restrictions and allow for legitimate and legal research to flourish, we get closer to real therapies and cures. When that happens, we will see a flood of Bio-Tech companies enter this space but there are a handful of very fine companies already working feverishly to make these therapies a reality today. These small Bio-Tech companies will be the Pharmaceutical Giants of tomorrow.
In a memo released this last week, the DEA did not call for more prohibition or stricter enforcement. They put out a call for more drugs. The memo calls for legal producers to ramp up the production of cannabis and psychedelics for medical use in 2022. Here is an excerpt from the memo: Because there has been a significant increase in the use of Schedule1 hallucinogenic controlled substances for research the DEA supports regulated research with Schedule1 controlled substances as evidenced by increases proposed for 2022 as compared to 2021.
In short, things are ramping up and the DEA is proposing doubling the production of psilocybin (magic mushrooms), increasing LSD production by 12x and MDMA by 64x. Along with the DEA loosening upon production for research and the FDA approval for psychedelics for the treatment of depression and PTSD I’d call it definite proof that these drugs have “medical use”. There’s hope for Mental Illness.