Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) announced it will legalise MDMA and Psilocybin for medical use. Starting 1 of July, psychiatrists will be allowed to prescribe the drugs to patients with treatment-resistant mental illnesses including severe PTSD and depression.
MDMA is a synthetic drug, commonly known as “ecstasy” that gained popularity as “party drug” in the 80s. It affects the brain by increasing the release of certain neurotransmitters, including serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, resulting in a feeling of increased energy, euphoria, and empathy towards others.
Psilocybin is a naturally occurring psychedelic substance that is found in certain species of mushrooms that produces similar effects as LSD, including alterations in perception, mood, and thought. Psilocybin has been used for centuries in traditional spiritual and medicinal practices, and more recently has been studied for its potential therapeutic benefits.
Through the drugs’ rescheduling from Schedule 9 (prohibited substances) to Schedule 8 (controlled medicines), Australia will become the first country in the world to officially recognise psychedelics as legitimate medicines. “The decision acknowledges the current lack of options for patients with specific treatment-resistant mental illnesses, and the supporting evidence of safety and efficacy from clinical trials,” said TGA in a statement. “It means that psilocybin and MDMA can be used therapeutically in a controlled medical setting. However, patients may be vulnerable during psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy, requiring controls to protect these patients.”
The decision has been praised by pharma industry, medical researchers and academics. “The safe ‘re-medicalisation’ of certain historically illicit drugs is a very welcome step away from what has been decades of demonisation,” said Dr David Caldicott from Australian National University. “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’.”