Tag Archives: research

Following our previous article: ‘Drug Harm Charts & Psychedelics‘ – we present new research demonstrating the claim that psychedelics are much safer than other recreational drugs and that their ‘Class-A’ classification is therefore indefensible.

The original research paper can be found here: ‘Quantifying the RR of harm to self and others from substance misuse: results from a survey of clinical experts across Scotland’



Objective To produce an expert consensus hierarchy of harm to self and others from legal and illegal substance use.

Design Structured questionnaire with nine scored categories of harm for 19 different commonly used substances.

Setting/participants 292 clinical experts from across Scotland.

Results There was no stepped categorical distinction in harm between the different legal and illegal substances. Heroin was viewed as the most harmful, and cannabis the least harmful of the substances studied. Alcohol was ranked as the fourth most harmful substance, with alcohol, nicotine and volatile solvents being viewed as more harmful than some class A drugs.


The harm rankings of 19 commonly used substances did not match the A, B, C classification under the Misuse of Drugs Act. The legality of a substance of misuse is not correlated with its perceived harm. These results could inform any legal review of drug misuse and help shape public health policy and practice.


The main outcome of this study is a ranking by Scottish addiction experts of 19 recreational drugs according to their mean harm score. Two hundred and ninety-two addiction multidisciplinary experts across Scotland were involved making it the largest national panel to be involved in this type of study.

What you read here, and in the full research article if you chose to read it, is the view of trained professionals and experts – it is not conjecture, it is not biased, it is not based on political standpoint.

Quantifying the RR of harm to self and others from substance misuse: results from a survey of clinical experts across Scotland

What this suggests about Psychedelic Drugs:

  • Magic mushrooms are amongst the safest of all recreational drugs: their class-A rating is therefore a mistake.
  • Magic mushrooms are safer than all other drugs (except for cannabis): psilocybin mushrooms (a form of psychedelic drug) are significantly safer than tobacco or alcohol.
  • Magic mushrooms are safer than a medication currently prescribed to children on the NHS and by health-services around the world: Ritalin.
  • LSD is safer than tobacco or alcohol. Of 19 drugs it was the 4th least dangerous to the individual users themselves.
  • LSD and Magic Mushrooms (the only psychedelics in this study) are both class-A drugs, despite the ranking  in this study, and in other studies.


If we take the examples of Cannabis (1.7 harm score) & Alcohol (2.6 harm score): do these average ratings of experts’ opinions of harm make any sense?

The estimated number of death from alcohol each year is between 30-40,000 , whilst there are no recorded deaths that result directly from cannabis. Surely alcohol’s harm rating ought to be many times greater than that of cannabis?

Further, whilst this study aims and (to some extent) succeeds in reflecting the relative harms of each drug: we must remember that many of the 19 drugs mentioned also have social and medical benefits that need to be factored in to policy making decisions.

We at Cognitive Liberty UK argue that this research is a part of a growing body of evidence which suggest that LSD& Magic Mushrooms, due to their comparatively low risks/dangers, and their proven efficacy as treatments for use in clinical psychology, should be downgraded from Class-A drugs. At the very least psychedelics should be downgraded to Class-C drugs, as an initial step towards re-integrating them into society.


Rick Strassman, M.D. is Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the University of British Columbia. He is currently working on a book describing his psychedelic drug research with DMT, The Spirit Molecule.

In January 1991, twenty-three minutes after I injected a large dose of DMT (N,N-dimethyltryptamine) into Elena’s arm vein. Elena is a forty-two-year-old married psychotherapist with extensive personal experience with psychedelic drugs. DMT is a powerful, short-acting psychedelic that occurs naturally in human body fluids, and is also found in many plants. Elena has read some Buddhism, but practices Taoist meditation…”


1. What is Cognitive Liberty & Why Must We Defend It?

2. Psychedelics, Consumer-Capitalism, Power & Authority

3. Locking Up Mystics: The Basic Injustice of Anti-LSD Laws

4. Pharmaceutical Hypocrisy: Prozac vs LSD

5. 10 Reasons to Legalise LSD in the UK



“The powerful hallucinogen LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) has potential as a treatment for alcoholism, according to a retrospective analysis of studies published in the late 1960s and early 1970s.”


The treatment of alcoholism is one of many medicinal uses of LSD. The research highlight the hypocrisy at work in current legislation: alcohol is one of the most destructive drugs on the market, it ruins individual lives, its costs to society are vast: it remains legal whilst a drug that can cure people of alcohol-addiction is banned.

LSD is safer than alcohol. LSD can be used to benefit the mind. Alcohol is addictive, LSD can help remove addictions.

New research has been published on the benefits of consuming magic mushrooms…


Prof Nutt and his team scanned the brains of volunteers who had been injected with a moderate dose of psilocybin, the active ingredient of magic mushrooms.

They had expected higher activity in areas of the brain associated with visual imagery. But in fact they found that the drug switched off a network of interconnected regions of the brain which regulated an individual’s sense of being and integration with their environment.

The researchers say that this alters consciousness because individuals are less in touch with their sensations and normal way of thinking.

They also found that psilocybin also turns off a part of the brain which is overactive in some forms of depression. So Prof Nutt believes that the drug could be used as an antidepressant and has applied to the Medical Research Council to carry out a small patient study to see if this is the case.

“There’s some research from the US which shows that when used in a psycho-therapeutic context it can produce quite long-lasting changes to a person’s sense of well-being – changes that can last for years,” Nutt says.

He also said that there was nothing in the brain scans or follow-up studies which would suggest that if taken in moderate quantities the drug was unsafe.

“People who use them regularly seem to do that. They seem to use them on an annual basis in order to enjoy the experience but also because it has this positive reaffirming effect. And there are certainly examples of people who take magic mushroom tea for obsessive compulsive disorder to keep it under control

So it may be that there are broad utilities of these kind of compounds in terms of mental well-being. I don’t know – I think it’s very much a question to be answered.”

(Quoted from:

“A second study, to be published on Thursday in the British Journal of Psychiatry, gave volunteers cues to remember positive events in their lives such as their wedding or performance in a play. Their recollection became very vivid. “It was almost as if rather than imagining the memories, they were actually seeing them” said Carhart-Harris. “This could be very useful in psychotherapy, for instance in people with depression who find it very difficult to remember good times and are stuck in the negative.”

The team are now hoping to do a further study which will involve giving psilocybin to depressed people who are undergoing psychotherapy, in the hope that it will allow them to relive times of past happiness.

The studies showed that psilocybin worked on the same areas of the brain as the SSRI antidepressants such as Prozac, as well as talking therapies and meditation as carried out by skilled practitioners. But the advantage over pills, the team believes, is that the positive effect could be long-lasting.”

(Quoted from:

How do psychedelics compare against conventional anti-depressants? The answer may suprise you…

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