Talking Point: The 21st Century Revival of Therapeutic Research on Psychedelic Drugs: Rationale, Evidence and Potential Future Medical and other Uses


An increasing number of clinical trials of psilocybin and MDMA and other psychedelic drugs are being conducted on their use in treating depression, anxiety and various types of addiction. This paper describes: (1) the European discovery of the psychedelic effects of plant-based drugs; (2) clinical research on the therapeutic uses of LSD in the 1950s and 1960s, and (3) the reasons for the abandonment of psychedelic research in North America in the 1970s. It also addresses the following questions: (i) What factors have contributed to renewed research interest in psychedelic drugs? (ii) How does the recent psychedelic research relate to earlier research? (iii) What types of research studies have been done and what have they shown? (iv) If approved, how should we regulate the clinical use of psychedelic drugs to treat addiction and mental disorders? (v) Should governments allow the nonmedical use of psychedelic drugs by adults?

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About the presenter

Wayne Hall is an Emeritus Professor at the National Centre for Youth Substance Use Research at the University of Queensland and the Queensland Alliance for Environmental Health Sciences. He was: a Professor at the National Addiction Centre, Kings College London (2014-2019); Director of Centre for Youth Substance Abuse Research (2014-2016), NHMRC Australia Fellow, the University of Queensland Centre for Clinical Research (2009-2014), Professor of Public Health Policy, School of Population Health (2005-2009), Director of the Office of Public Policy and Ethics, Institute for Molecular Bioscience (2001-2005) and Executive Director of the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (1994-2001). He has advised the World Health Organization on the health effects of cannabis use; the effectiveness of drug substitution treatment; the contribution of illicit drug use to the global burden of disease; and the ethical implications of genetic and neuroscience research on addiction.