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First Psychedelic Drug Trial Firm Opens in London

The opening of a commercial lab in London is an indication that psychedelic drug interest has increased.

Clerkenwell Health is a British startup that will be offering psilocybin trials to assist terminal patients with anxiety. The trial will commence in August. It is intended to provide support for participants until the end of palliative. The facility will be located near Harley Street—a famed address globally for attracting doctors and firms offering state-of-the-art medical treatments and therapies. This firm will collaborate with North American companies in North America, both in Canada and in the United States. They specialize in treating neurological and mental disorders.

It isn’t surprising that this move will be made. In fact, it is the next phase of an anticipated trend. Biotech companies of every kind, from those producing psychedelics with cannabis to others, have long sought the U.K. as a safe haven for experimental research. The reason is that Britain has withdrawn from the European Medicines Agency rules and regulations, and all other regulatory bodies required to allow such research approval on a region-by-regional basis.

Beyond this, of course, other psychedelic drugs—and psilocybin in particular—are beginning to have a new renaissance in the research community globally. This is in large part due to the cannabis reform. These doors have been opened in many ways by the end of Prohibition worldwide, and not Brexit.

Regardless, there’s a lot of interest in exploring psychedelic drugs for treating mental conditions such as addiction and mood disorders.

Research of any drug was extremely difficult due to the War on Drugs policies. It was almost impossible to get approvals or funding everywhere. The only reason Israel became a center for cannabis research was that the United States was open to funding research that wasn’t banned in the country.

British Psychedelic Research: The Great Irony

This development may be a significant step in the right direction for such a treatment. However, it also has many flaws. The first is that the most widely used psychedelic drug involved in such reform discussions—namely cannabis—remains an illegal substance in the U.K. Further, despite efforts on the part of advocates, which at this point include the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, recreational legalization has caused a backlash in his own party.

Because of this, medical reform has not been widely implemented in Britain. The U.K. has the highest export of medical marijuana in the world. However, the majority of British patients are still denied legal access to cannabis-based medicine.

There is a possibility that Britain’s first recreational reform will be implemented just off the coast.

The U.K.’s Drug Reform Agenda

The political climate in Britain makes it clear that reforming drug policy isn’t about science, but profit. GW Pharmaceuticals was the leader in developing cannabis-based products outside Israel for nearly 20 years. During this time, the company’s drugs treated more global patients than domestic ones. This is why medical marijuana debate has been so heated in recent years. When GW’s drugs did not work even on children, parents had to import alternatives from abroad.

The current divisions within the Labour Party regarding drug reform are likely to cause division within the party. This will require a partisan conversation about drug reform but slow it down further.

This is irrelevant to the biotech companies that are now looking for a regulatory framework outside of international norms and regulations, and to create and launch a new class of drug.

The U.K. has the potential to lead this effort. If the British continue to insist on becoming the Island Dr. Moreau, to the disadvantage of many firms and the dismay of most of their citizens there will be no stopping them.