The reputation of psychedelics is shifting from drugs of abuse to medicine.
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Since 1970 psychedelics — drugs like psilocybin, MDMA, LSD, and DMT — have been categorized as Schedule I drugs in the United States. By definition, that means they have no accepted medical use.
Before then, some researchers — like psychologist Timothy Leary — advocated for psychedelics. Then their studies came to a grinding halt.
In recent years, however, the amount of papers published on psychedelics has skyrocketed.
Psychedelics are "re-entering science and society," as a July 2020 perspective article in Frontiers in Psychology puts it.
Click to see the number of papers on LSD, psilocybin, hallucinogens and psychedelics by decade.
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In October 2018, the Food and Drug Administration granted COMPASS Pathways, a London-based life sciences company, a "breakthrough therapy" designation for its research on psilocybin.
The "breakthrough therapy" designation means the FDA aims to expedite the approval of drugs that treat a serious condition and show promise early on.
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Voting on a city ordinance during a 2019 election, Denver narrowly voted to decriminalize psilocybin. The decision came down to less than 2,000 votes.
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Mind Medicine Inc., a company investing in research into LSD and Ibogaine (a psychedelic substance found in plants) began trading on the NEO exchange, a "progressive" stock exchange.
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"MindMed" has since applied to trade on the NASDAQ. However, Compass Pathways, the company granted breakthrough status by the FDA in 2018, got there first.
In September 2020, Compass Pathways became the first psychedelics company to trade on the NASDAQ – a major U.S. stock exchange.
In April 2020, four patients in Canada began petitioning the federal government to make an exception to the Canadian Controlled Substances Act, and allow the use of psilocybin during palliative care.
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"It was life-changing, and one of the most beautiful experiences of my life."
The measure passed with 56 percent of the vote.
More states are considering approaches like Oregon's. California Senator Scott Wiener plans to introduce a bill to decriminalize psilocybin in that state.