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Drug Policy: From Illegal To Medical [ONLINE]
January 6 @ 11:00 am - 1:00 pm
by The Psychedelic Society (UK)
Researchers and physicians have revisited compounds once associated as sources of harm as medicines and tools for healing.
Oregon hit the news November becoming the first US state to legalise psilocybin therapy. With growing research into the usefulness of psychedelics in treating a vast scope of mental health disorders, will other states and countries follow the lead? What risks do we face with these substances legalised on a capitalised market, or in the hands of big pharma?
With radical changes in cannabis laws over the past decade, what can we learn from medical cannabis? With this evidence, how can we best frame our approach to legalising other psychedelics like MDMA and psilocybin? And how do we better ensure equal access for all patients to cannabis and other psychedelic medicines, free from the harms of stigmatisation and geographical and financial barriers?
As the medical evidence for such drugs increases amidst the growing psychedelic renaissance, the policies surrounding illegal substances are being questioned and redefining laws. Joining for this highly relevant and transformative conservation exploring the future for repurposing illicit drugs is a varied panel, including MP Crispin Blunt, policy director Natalie Ginsberg, patient advocate Abby Highes and psychiatrist Dr Chloe Sakkal.
This panel will be part one of our two-part series on drug policy. With a new generation of drug policy reformers and psychedelic researchers, we want to shine a light on the healing powers of banned substances, consequences of prohibition and explore the future of the war on drugs.
Crispin Blunt, MP
Crispin was elected MP for Reigate in 1997 having formerly served as an army officer and subsequently Special Adviser in the Ministry of Defence and Foreign Commonwealth office. In Parliament, Crispin was a Shadow Minister with briefs including trade, energy and science; security and counter-terrorism. Since 2010 he has served as both Minister for Prisons, Probation and Youth Justice and as Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee.
He is the first Conservative to Co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Drug Policy Reform, Chairs the APPG for Global LGBT Rights, and is Co-Chair of the APPG for Humanism. He is also the founder and unremunerated chair for the Conservative Drug Policy Reform Group Ltd, whose objective is to promote evidence-based drug policy reform on the centre-right.
Natalie Lyla Ginsberg received her BA in history from Yale and her Master’s of Social Work (MSW) from Columbia. Before joining MAPS in 2014, Natalie worked as a Policy Fellow at the Drug Policy Alliance, where she helped legalise medical cannabis in her home state of New York. She worked to end New York’s race-based marijuana arrests. Natalie has also worked as a therapist at an alternative-sentencing court for prostitution and drug-related offences, and as a middle school guidance counsellor.
At MAPS, Natalie works to disentangle science from political partisanship on Capitol Hill, at the United Nations, and beyond. She is also co-developing a psychedelic peace-building study with Imperial College, working with Palestinians and Israelis.
Proficient in curating change culture and service transformation, Abby is an experienced NHS operations lead dedicated to advocating for patients. Transferring her expertise, Abby is a patient access consultant for Drug Science’s Project Twenty21, Europe’s largest medicinal cannabis registry evidencing safety and efficacy.
A co-founder of PlantEd Collective, she is interested in the integration of evidence-based plant medicine within mainstream healthcare, particularly in the areas of chronic pain and mental health. A committed volunteer in the medicinal cannabis sector for over five years, Abby represents PLEA as chair and outreach director.
Dr Chloe Sakal
Having gained a BSc in neuroscience, Dr Chloe Sakal went on to study medicine and qualify as a psychiatrist, working in a variety of community and inpatient settings with particular attention to substance misuse. She has a keen interest in psychopharmacology and the potential for the therapeutic use of psychedelic drugs in treating a wide range of psychiatric disorders.
She is a study doctor for the UKs first MDMA-assisted psychotherapy trial looking at the safety and tolerability of its use in the treatment of alcoholism. Alongside this, she also campaigns for and provides progressive harm reduction strategies for recreational drug use, including work within drug testing services in Bristol and at festivals.