Australia just legalized the medicinal use of MDMA and psilocybin, officially becoming the first country in the world to fully embrace the healing powers of psychedelic therapy.
Starting in July, the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) will allow psychiatrists to prescribe psilocybin and MDMA to treat severe depression and PTSD. "The decision acknowledges the current lack of options for patients with specific treatment-resistant mental illnesses,” the TGA said in a statement, according to DW. “It means that psilocybin and MDMA can be used therapeutically in a controlled medical setting.”
The new legalization plans aren't going to kick off a psychedelic free-for-all, though. Personal use of shrooms and molly will remain strictly prohibited, and all legal use will remain strictly regulated by the TGA. Psychiatrists will only be able to prescribe them to people who have been diagnosed with treatment-resistant depression or PTSD. Each and every prescription must also be approved by an independent human research ethics committee as well.
Researchers will be allowed to continue conducting clinical trials using these two medicines, though. TGA officials have said that they are willing to approve psilocybin and MDMA to treat additional issues, as long as there is enough clinical research to support their use. Several current studies are already investigating whether these substances can effectively treat drug or alcohol addiction, eating disorders, and other issues, and many have already returned promising results.
Australian health professionals have applauded the government for taking this brave step towards psychedelics reform. Dr. David Caldicott, clinical senior lecturer in emergency medicine at Australian National University, told The Guardian that researchers have made it “abundantly clear” that both MDMA and psilocybin “can have dramatic effects on conditions often considered refractory to contemporary treatment.”
“The safe ‘re-medicalisation’ of certain historically illicit drugs is a very welcome step away from what has been decades of demonization,” Caldicott added. “In addition to a clear and evolving therapeutic benefit, it also offers the chance to catch up on the decades of lost opportunity [of] delving into the inner workings of the human mind, abandoned for so long as part of an ill-conceived, ideological ‘war on drugs’.”
"There are many people in the community experiencing PTSD and depression, particularly army veterans and people who have worked in emergency services, where standard psychiatric drugs have not worked and offer no relief," said Mike Musker, mental health and suicide prevention researcher at the University of South Australia, to DW.
Both the US and Canada have been gradually working towards legalizing the medicinal use of MDMA and psilocybin for years, but Australia just beat them to the punch. Canada legalized the medical use of MDMA, psilocybin, and other psychedelic drugs last year, but only for patients with terminal illnesses. The US FDA is also working to fast-track clinical trials that could see MDMA and/or psilocybin approved for therapeutic use as soon as this year.