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August 2, 2021

Two Models of Legalization of Psychedelic Substances: Reasons for Concern

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
  • 2Scattergood Program for Applied Ethics of Behavioral Health Care, Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
  • 3Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, New York
  • 4Center for Law, Ethics and Psychiatry, New York State Psychiatric Institute, New York
JAMA. 2021;326(8):697-698. doi:10.1001/jama.2021.12481

In 1973, the federal government classified psychedelics as schedule I substances, rendering possession illegal, even for research purposes except under tightly regulated circumstances. Although these restrictions have hindered research on the therapeutic uses of psychedelics for decades, recent studies have brought increasing attention and enthusiasm to the potential benefits of psychedelic treatment.1 Accompanying this revival of psychedelic research have been initiatives by states and localities to legalize psychedelic possession and use. Two of the most ambitious measures, in Oregon and California, take different paths to legalization. This Viewpoint reviews these initiatives and the concerns they raise by looking to the cautionary precedents involving the legalization and commercialization of other controlled substances.

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