Ann Arbor group sets sights on statewide decriminalization

Members of Decriminalize Nature Ann Arbor, a group who last year successfully convinced the local city council to decriminalize natural psychedelic drugs, have formed a new state-focused committee called Decriminalize Nature Michigan, reports MLive.

The background: Ann Arbor is an historically progressive city when it comes to drug policy, decriminalizing cannabis in 1972. Last year, the city decriminalized entheogenic plants and fungi (such as psilocybin, mescaline, ibogaine and DMT) along with Denver, Oakland, Santa Cruz and Washington, DC, meaning police are asked not to allocate resources to investigate possession or private production for non-commercial use of those psychedelics.

The strategy: Successful decriminalization happened largely through educating policymakers about issues such as the research showing the medical benefits of psychedelics including their value in treating addiction, and their long histories of use in spiritual and religious ceremonies.

What’s next: The new Michigan-focused committee will not follow the footsteps of Oregon by bringing the issue to the ballot box, said Decriminalize Nature Michigan co-director Myc Williams. Instead, they’ll focus on the improving access and integration within some of the communities that could benefit from psychedelics the most.

“We realize it is best we work collaboratively with our leadership toward healing our veterans, elders, and those with mental health needs as one community,” said Williams.

Aussie researchers launch world’s first psilocybin for meth addiction clinical trial

With the rise in self-treatment top of mind, Sydney researchers are investigating the value of psilocybin in treating addiction to methamphetamines in the world’s first clinical trial, reports the Sydney Morning Herald.

The trial: Lead researcher Dr. Jonathan Brett, staff specialist in clinical pharmacology and addiction medicine at St. Vincent’s, says 15 participants will initially have three sessions with a counsellor to set goals and allow the therapist to better-understand individuals’ addiction patterns. Then, they’ll be given a 25 mg capsule of pharmaceutical grade psilocybin — enough to feel the effects without hallucinations — followed by three more therapeutic sessions.

“It is really about people feeling freer to tell stories in their heads without being tied down to their value,” said co-researcher Dr. Knock.

The focus: Researchers are targeting participants’ “default mode networks” — the parts of the brain where introspection happens and is “central to defining who we are,” said researcher Dr. Brett. Previous research has shown psilocybin to have positive effects on the network.

The trial is funded by the National Centre for Clinical Research on Emerging Drugs.

Integration is ‘crucial’ to breakthroughs with psychedelic therapy

A harrowing-but-hopeful tale of one former police officer’s transformative and healing experience with MDMA-assisted therapy illustrates the importance of the integration process, reports Forbes.

The problem: After witnessing Tasmania’s worst mass shooting in history in 1996, former police officer Nick Watchorn suffered with PTSD for 22 years before discovering MDMA-assisted therapy. After three eight-hour sessions with therapists, his life changed for the better.

Integration is key: While there’s a lot of emphasis in mainstream reports on psychedelic drugs themselves, the process of integration — which happens post-trip — isn’t as widely promoted. “One of the key points of integration is to not let significant parts of the experience fade out, but to examine the mental deep dive and mine it for valuable insights,” says Forbes.

Case study: For Watchorn, his experience on MDMA didn’t begin with memories of the shooting. Instead, he thought about his childhood, “where his trauma was rooted.”

“During integration therapy sessions, he would reflect on what emerged during his time on the drug and slowly patch together the meaning of it all,” explains Forbes. “Only then would he have the true tools to begin healing himself of his PTSD.”

Legal experts weigh in on psychedelics legalization in Canada post-cannabis

Lawyers from a top Canadian law firm  reflect on the successes and failures of cannabis legalization to examine the likelihood of psychedelics legalization — and what’s possible in the meantime — in Lexpert.

“While the appetite to legalize medical and recreational cannabis was present and had long been strong in many segments of the population, it was still a huge challenge to convince many decision-makers to take the first step to decriminalize cannabis and a further leap to endorse legalization,” they write. 

Stronger stigma

It’s the opinion of the authors that even though there is plenty of evidence about the medical benefits of psychedelics, there isn’t nearly the same impetus for products containing psilocybin/psilocyn and the stigma is “still quite significant.” Because of that, they advise investors and industry to be intimately familiar with the current laws and regulations pertaining to Schedule 3 drugs rather than banking on policy change.

The research phase

Companies are wise to collaborate with researchers at universities and healthcare professionals, who can qualify for exemptions from the law, to undertake preclinical or clinical trials, write the authors. 

Non-research activities

For psychedelics companies that aren’t in R&D but are focused on activities like cultivation, sales or exports, there are dealer’s licences for some controlled substances such as psilocybin and psilocyn. 

To apply, two key posts, a senior person in charge and a qualified person in charge have to be appointed to oversee and be accountable to all activities pertaining to controlled substances. There are also crucial reporting requirements that allow the government to track import and exports, and expect criminal background checks. 

It’s also crucial that all activities stay within the confines of the dealer’s licence, the authors advise — the laws just aren’t likely to change any time soon.
“In our view, the regime that exists today with respect to the exploitation of psilocybin and psilocyn is unlikely to change in the foreseeable future.

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