It’s the first country in the world to do so
Australia is to become the first country to recognise MDMA and magic mushrooms as medicine. The news was announced this afternoon (February 3), with both drugs set to be prescribed in cases of treatment-resistant mental illnesses.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration, Australia’s drugs watchdog, stated that their research had found “sufficient evidence for potential benefits in certain patients”, and from July both drugs will be available on prescription. According to reports, MDMA will be prescribed for post-traumatic stress disorder and psilocybin for depression. (Don’t expect a renewed interest in acid house or to hear “me and you have got a special connection mate!!” on the streets of Australia anytime soon, though, as possession and recreational use of the drugs will remain criminalised).
Prescriptions will only be given in cases “where standard psychiatric drugs have not worked and offer no relief,” said Mike Musker, a mental health and suicide prevention researcher at the University of South Australia. Musker stated the two drugs “reduce inhibitions” and could help patients process difficult images and memories.
The announcement marks a positive step forward in drug policy reform after years of archaic and heavy-handed rulings dictated by governments around the world. Dr David Caldicott, a clinical senior lecturer in emergency medicine at Australian National University, added that reclassifying MDMA and psilocybin as controlled substances helps move away from the “demonisation” that has surrounded the two drugs for decades. He went on to say that the drugs “can have dramatic effects on conditions often considered refractory to contemporary treatment” and could prove to be particularly helpful for returning service people.
Unsurprisingly, not everyone was happy with the announcement. Professor Susan Rossel of Swinburne’s Centre for Mental Health said that “these treatments are not well established at all for a sufficient level of broad-scale implementation,” adding “we’ve got no data on long-term outcomes at all, so that worries me a lot.”