In the US, cannabis is now legal in 8 states. In Europe, cannabis is openly sold in Dutch ‘coffee shops’, Spanish members’ clubs and Copenhagen’s Christiania. Couple this with support for legalisation from both the Lib Dems and Greens, and recent favourable polling on the topic, and it seems a regulated UK cannabis market may finally be on the horizon, with debates already taking place on what form a regulated cannabis market would take in the UK.
It’s time, then, to consider what comes next: the legal regulation of substances beyond cannabis. Psychedelics, as some of the safest psychoactive substances out there, are a likely next candidate. In this pioneering event at London’s beautiful Conway Hall, we’ll consider questions including:
- Given the present situation where psychedelic substances can be obtained from the darknet and Dutch truffle vendors, what is the need to regulate psychedelics?
- If we do regulate psychedelics, what are the best models for the different substances? What are the key benefits of legal regulation over the current situation?
- What are the potential consequences of expanding access to psychedelics?
VolteFace is excited to be partnering with The Psychedelic Society to co-host this debate. Founded just under two years ago, The Psychedelic Society is the first UK-wide grassroots organisation to promote discussion around psychedelic substances and altered states of consciousness, and to advocate the careful use of psychedelics as a tool for awakening and self discovery. Since its founding, the society has amassed 10,000 members, held 76 events in 6 cities across the country and established itself as a credible commentator on psychedelics in the mainstream media.
Charlotte Walsh (LLB; MPhil) is Lecturer in Law at the University of Leicester School of Law, England, where she runs an undergraduate course on Criminology, largely concerned with drug policy. Her main research focus is on the interface between psychedelics and the law, viewed from a liberal, human rights-based perspective, and she has published widely on this subject: she believes that drug prohibition conflicts with our fundamental right to cognitive liberty. Charlotte has been involved with advising people who are being prosecuted for activities involving plant psychedelics. She is a member of the ICEERS Expert Committee for the Regularisation of Psychoactives, a group concerned with co-ordinating a common defence strategy in ayahuasca cases and with the development of a global strategy of normalisation for ayahuasca.
Steve Rolles is Senior Policy Analyst for Transform Drug Policy Foundation where he has worked since 1998. Steve has been the lead author of Transform’s key publications including 2009’s ‘After the War on Drugs: Blueprint for Regulation’, 2012’s ‘Alternative World Drug Report’, 2013’s ‘How to Regulate Cannabis; a Practical Guide’ as well as 100s of briefings, journal publications and op-eds in the UK and around the world. Steve was also the lead drafter of the 2015 report for the Global Commission on Drugs Taking Control: Pathways to drug policies that work, and has been a frequent contributor to the public debate on drug policy and law; in broadcast media, from Newsnight to Fox News, and as a speaker at high level forums in the UK parliament, across Latin America and at the UN in Vienna and New York. Steve was a consultant adviser to the Uruguayan Government on their new legal cannabis regulation model, and is now advising the Canadian Government as they move towards cannabis legalisation.
Sam Bowman is Executive Director of the Adam Smith Institute. He is interested in the political economy of ‘Bleeding Heart Libertarianism’, a school of thought that tries to use free market policies to improve the welfare of the poor, and has spoken previously on drug regulation, citing it as a prime example of ‘practical liberalism‘. He has written for The Telegraph, The Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, The Spectator, City AM, ConservativeHome, The International Business Times and CapX and has appeared on Sky News, Newsnight, BBC News, Bloomberg TV, CNBC, Scotland Tonight and The Today Programme, as well as many others.
Dr James Rucker is a NHS psychiatrist, a clinical lecturer in mood disorders at King’s College London, and founder of the The Maudsley Psychedelic Society. He has a particular interest in the putative therapeutic utility of LSD, psilocybin and MDMA in non-psychotic mental health problems, and their molecular mechanism of action. He was part of the treatment team in the recent pilot study of psilocybin in treatment resistant depression at Imperial College London led by Professor David Nutt. He has written, and been interviewed, extensively about the place of psychedelic drugs in psychiatry and the impact of Schedule 1 classification on research with psychedelics and MDMA. He advocates an evidence based drug policy that regulates and controls supply, encourages research and enshrines psychosocial approaches to intervention for problematic use. He devotes much of his spare time to music and music festivals, where he also does voluntary work providing crisis care for people having difficult drug experiences. He lives and works in south London.
The Legal Regulation of Psychedelics: 6pm – 9pm, 17th December, Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL
The latest information about the event and further details can be found on the Facebook page here.
Tickets (£8 early bird/£10 standard) are available here.
Stephen Reid is Director of The Psychedelic Society. Tweets @wordsandwriting
Henry Fisher is Policy Editor of VolteFace. Tweets @_Hydrofluoric