Two Models of Legalization of Psychedelic Substances: Reasons for Concern

This opinion paper (2021) raises concerns over the two concurrent models of legalizing the possession, personal use, and noncommercial sharing of psychedelics in California and clinical use in Oregon. In light of cautionary precedents involving the commercialization of ketamine and cannabis, their chief concern is that non–evidence-based marketing strategies founded on one-sided enthusiasm for the benefits of psychedelics may supplant evidence-based practices, thereby putting vulnerable populations at risk of their potential side effects that have not been studied outside of the clinical population.


“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.”

Authors: William R Smith & Paul S Appelbaum

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