Outlawing psychoactive drugs amounts to the worst case of scientific censorship in modern times, leading scientists have argued.
UN conventions on drugs in the 1960s and 1970s have not only compounded the harms of drugs but also produced the worst censorship of research for over 300 years. This has set back research in key areas such as consciousness by decades and effectively stopped the investigation of promising medical treatments, the researchers say.
The paper is written by Professor David Nutt of Imperial College London and Leslie King, both former government advisors, and Professor David Nichols of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
The possession of cannabis, MDMA (ecstasy), and psychedelics is stringently regulated under national laws and international conventions dating back to the 1960s.
“The decision to outlaw these drugs was based on their perceived dangers, but in many cases the harms have been overstated and are actually less than many legal drugs such as alcohol,” said Professor Nutt, Edmond J Safra Professor of Neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College London.
“The laws have never been updated despite scientific advances and growing evidence that many of these drugs are relatively safe. And there appears to be no way for the international community to make such changes.”