Portugal

This page has been made possible with the help of Pedro Teixeira, Professor at the University of Lisbon, Founder of SafeJourney and Director of Research at the Synthesis Institute.

In 2001, Portugal became the first country in the world to decriminalise the possession of all drugs – including psychedelics – for personal use and adopted a harm-reduction based approach to drug use. Psychedelic research is underway in Portugal, with several research groups operating in different organisations. Compass Pathways has included a site in Lisbon for their most recent psilocybin for depression multi-centre trial. Grassroots organisations like Kosmicare, SafeJourney, and SPACE provide information and promote discussion surrounding psychedelic science, medicine, and culture in Portuguese society.

Psychedelics in Portugal Today

Despite psychedelics being decriminalised in Portugal, they are still controlled substances, barriers to research exist, and only a few clinical trials with these substances have taken place. Nevertheless, at several research institutions across the country, Portuguese researchers are interested in the topic and starting to develop new research programs with psychedelics. Also, Portuguese researchers have recently published several review articles looking at different aspects of the effects and potential of psychedelics for health and well-being.

The Neuropsychiatry Unit of the Champalimaud Foundation in Lisbon was recently involved in the Phase II trial of different doses of psilocybin for treatment-resistant depression. While only two patients were treated in Lisbon, preliminary results from this multi-centre trial showed positive results. This organisation has conducted other smaller studies using psychedelics, one of which was funded by the Portuguese Science Foundation (Ministry of Science). Albino Oliveira-Maia, MD, PhD, leads this unit and frequently speaks about this topic in the press.

At the University of Lisbon, Professor Pedro Teixeira and colleagues at Imperial College London and Johns Hopkins proposed that psychedelics may one day be used to intentionally promote health behaviour change. In their review paper, the researchers suggest that psychedelics may facilitate the adoption of healthier diets, exercise, nature exposure and also mindfulness or stress reduction practices. Pedro Teixeira also coordinates research initiatives at the Synthesis Institute and is the founder of the non-profit website SafeJourney.

Other researchers at the University of Lisbon have systematically reviewed the potential of psilocybin in treating psychiatric disorders. At many institutions across the country, such as the University of Porto, the University of Coimbra and the University of Beira Interior, researchers have been compiling evidence surrounding psychedelic medicine. They have published several review articles covering everything from neuroimaging studies with psychedelics to the chemistry of tryptamine molecules.

Given the legal status surrounding individual substance use of psychedelics in Portugal, underground retreat centres are increasing throughout the country, with the majority using ayahuasca. At the same time, a few public hospitals are now offering ketamine-assisted therapy, and private medical organisations are also opening ketamine clinics, using this non-classic psychedelic, along with therapeutic support, for different mental health conditions. The esketamine nasal spray, Spravato, is also available in Portugal once referred by a medical professional, but few people appear to have had access to it.

Key Organisations

Kosmicare is a well-known Portuguese non-profit working to inspire change in drug policies and promote the empowerment of people that use drugs. Next to their advocacy work surrounding drug policy in Portugal, Kosmicare provides evidence-based information and services focused on health, safety, inclusiveness, and care for people who use drugs. The organisation offers drug testing services in Lisbon, and through their Psycare initiative, they assist people undergoing challenging experiences or psychedelic emergencies at festivals and other nightlife settings.

SafeJourney is a Portuguese website dedicated to disseminating information on the science, medicine, therapy, and culture around psychedelics. The website provides information, opinions, testimonials, and various resources on psychedelics, including original interviews with some of the world’s most prominent psychedelic researchers. SafeJourney also sponsors live events to discuss psychedelics and related topics. The organisation’s goal is to educate Portuguese society on the acceptance of psychedelics and psychedelic science and medicine while addressing the stigma surrounding these substances.

SPACE is the latest organisation to have emerged in Portugal in the area of psychedelics. They are a scientific society formed by mental health professionals, especially Psychiatry physicians, with the mission of studying, disseminating and promoting knowledge about the properties and potential therapeutic uses of psychedelic substances, natural, synthetic or semi-synthetic substances capable of provoking alternative states of consciousness and holding therapeutic potential within the scope of clinical medicine. They offer courses, webinars, and many other resources through their website and social media.    

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🧑 Which companies & people work with psychedelics in Portugal
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