Government Regulations Impeding Medical Research: Damaging Breakthrough Psychological Advancements

During the 1970s, government officials created strict laws against the sale, use, and possession of recreational drugs, such as, LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide), Psilocybin, MDMA (3,4-Methyl​enedioxy​methamphetamine), and, Ketamine. In 1970, government officials passed the Controlled Substance Law (CSL) in efforts to restrict the sale or possession of substances deemed as ‘dangerous’ to general exposure, as congress enacted the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), which categorizes recreational substances into different ‘schedules’ depending on their potential for abuse, ranging from high (Schedule I) to low (Schedule V) potential of abuse and/or dependency (“Controlled Substances Act.” 2019. Wikimedia Foundation.). These strict regulations were the end result of the counterculture that arose in the sixties; in the beginning of 1965, the excitement surrounding these new drugs quickly caused moral panic, that by the end of the decade, psychedelics were outlawed and forced to go underground (Pollan Introduction. 2018. Pp 3).

In recent decades, researchers have reexamined an alternative form of treatment for individuals diagnosed with mental disorders, like, anxiety disorders, depressive disorders, addictive disorders, e.g., alcoholism (Pollan. Introduction. 2018. Pp 3). This new alternative treatment involves a trained-professional, usually a researcher, administering participants with regulated doses of illegal substances while they undergo different forms of therapy. Scientists claim this new form of treatment could potentially be more beneficial than traditional prescription medications, because, results from clinical trials show participants having positive responses to this breakthrough medical research (Nutt. 13.1., (2015): Web). For example, studies administering regulated doses (between 0.2 to 1.7 mg) of MDMA combined with different forms of psychotherapy have had very positive results; results showing the increase of dopamine, serotonin, and, endorphins neurotransmitter with being in a safe and supportive environment, can extinguish the fear associated in traumatic events that cause PTSD (Feduccia and Mithoefer.  2018. Elsevier). Drug regulations, like, the CSA and the CSL, cause clinical trials, using Schedule I drugs, to be delayed or completely stopped, and researchers do not have the time, money, or energy to face these regulatory hurdles, which makes research impossible to conduct (Nutt. 13.1., (2015): Web).

Laws and regulations that oppose using illegal substances in medical research should to be reformed, because, the information creating these regulations is outdated and discredited by recent information revealed about illegal substances (Nutt. 13.1., (2015): Web). Government officials created a flawed system, i.e., the scheduling system, and, these regulations are impeding breakthrough medical research that could potentially be a long-term treatment for certain psychological disorders (Pollan. Introduction. 2018. Pp 3). Author of The Drug Wars in America, 1940-1973, Kathleen Frydl, states “the legislation was not a scientifically arbitrated scheme of drugs, but a political framework that consolidated a host of decisions, as well as some failures, to decide how to manage the drug portfolio of the United States”; in other words, these regulations are causing more harm to society than good.

 

I decided to share this TEDtalk to farther explain why changing these government regulations benefit society. The video below is a TEDtalk, led by, David Nutt, explaining how government policies are unjust and failing the younger generations:

 

Cited Sources:

“Controlled Substances Act.” Wikipedia. 29 Mar. 2019. Wikimedia Foundation. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Controlled_Substances_Act.>

Pollan, Michael. Whole Book. How To Change Your Mind: What The New Science Of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, etc. New York: Penguin Books, 2018.

Nutt, David. “Illegal Drugs Laws: Clearing a 50-Year-Old Obstacle to Research.” 13.1 (2015): E1002047. Web.

Feduccia, Allison A., and Michael C. Mithoefer. “MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD: Are memory reconsolidation and fear extinction underlying mechanisms?” Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry. 07 Mar. 2018. Elsevier.  <https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0278584617308655>

Frydl, Kathleen J. The Drug Wars in America, 1940–1973. Cambridge University Press, 2013

 

Video:

How government policy fails young people. Dir. TEDx Talks. Perf. David Nutt. YouTube. 03 Dec. 2013. <https://youtu.be/lSQD_zaLtks>.

 

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