Australia Legalizes Medical MDMA and Psilocybin
From 1 July this year, medicines containing the psychedelic substances psilocybin and MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine) can be prescribed by specifically authorised psychiatrists for the treatment of certain mental health conditions.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) will permit the prescribing of MDMA for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder and psilocybin for treatment-resistant depression. These are the only conditions where there is currently sufficient evidence for potential benefits in certain patients.
Prescribing will be limited to psychiatrists, given their specialised qualifications and expertise to diagnose and treat patients with serious mental health conditions, with therapies that are not yet well established. To prescribe, psychiatrists will need to be approved under the Authorised Prescriber Scheme by the TGA following approval by a human research ethics committee. The Authorised Prescriber Scheme allows prescribing permissions to be granted under strict controls that ensure the safety of patients.
The decision acknowledges the current lack of options for patients with specific treatment-resistant mental illnesses. It means that psilocybin and MDMA can be used therapeutically in a controlled medical setting. However, patients may be vulnerable during psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy, requiring controls to protect these patients.
For these specific uses, psilocybin and MDMA will be listed as Schedule 8 (Controlled Drugs) medicines in the Poisons Standard. For all other uses, they will remain in Schedule 9 (Prohibited Substances) which largely restricts their supply to clinical trials.
The decision follows applications made to the TGA to reclassify the substances in the Poisons Standard, extensive public consultation, a report from an expert panel, and advice received from the Advisory Committee on Medicines Scheduling.
There are currently no approved products containing psilocybin or MDMA that the TGA has evaluated for quality, safety and efficacy. However, this amendment will allow authorised psychiatrists to access and legally supply a specified ’unapproved’ medicine containing these substances to patients under their care for these specific uses.
The announcement and decision largely speak for themselves. The only thing I want to emphasize is how this happened. An applicant petitioned the government to reschedule psilocybin and MDMA in June 2022. The application presented evidence supporting moving psilocybin and MDMA to Schedule 8 — medicines that are legally available with strict legal controls. Months ago, the Australian government made an interim decision not to reschedule either. Thousands of people participated. You can read the responses. Most opposed the interim decision. Today (in Australia), the government reversed course and allowed unapproved MDMA and psilocybin to be used in treatment under severe restrictions.
Which is, by the way, exactly what we are seeking to do in AIMS when we submitted a petition to reschedule psilocybin in the US back in February 2022 in a petition on behalf of AIMS written by yours truly, with bomb edits from Mr. Pennington.
This is not impossible. We talk about this kind of stuff all the time here. Start understanding the processes—and not just what people say about it. Stop believing it can’t be otherwise. Get organized. Start petitioning your government.