Drug laws censor scientific research
LONDON - Reuters
The science world has reacted against the laws censoring drugs in research. AFP photoThe outlawing of drugs such as cannabis, magic mushrooms and other psychoactive substances amounts to scientific censorship and is hampering research into potentially important medicinal uses, leading scientists argued.
Laws and international conventions dating back to the 1960s have set back research in key areas such as consciousness by decades, they argued in the journal Nature Reviews Neuroscience.
“The decision to outlaw these drugs was based on their perceived dangers, but in many cases the harms have been overstated,” said David Nutt, a professor of neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College London.
In a statement accompanying the Nature Reviews paper, he said the laws amounted “to the worst case of scientific censorship since the Catholic Church banned the works of Copernicus and Galileo”.
“The laws have never been updated despite scientific advances and growing evidence that many of these drugs are relatively safe. And there appears to be no way for the international community to make such changes,” he said.
“This hindering of research and therapy is motivated by politics, not science.”
Nutt and Leslie King, both former British government drugs advisers, and co-author David Nichols of the University of North Carolina, called for the use of psychoactive drugs in research to be exempted from severe restrictions.