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Australia to legalise MDMA and mushrooms for medical use

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Australia’s drug watchdog has announced that MDMA and magic mushrooms will be soon be used for medicinal use.

Announced on Friday, the Therapeutic Goods Administration said that both MDMA and psilocybin – commonly known as ecstasy and magic mushrooms – will be used to treat depression and post-traumatic stress.

Psychiatrists will be able to prescribe both drugs from July after analysis showed there was “sufficient evidence for potential benefits in certain patients”.

Both drugs are currently listed as prohibited substances but tests found them to be “relatively safe” when administered in a medical setting.

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Mike Musker, a mental health and suicide prevention researcher at the University of South Australia, welcomed the move as “long-awaited”.

He added: “There are many people in the community experiencing PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and depression, particularly army veterans and people who have worked in emergency services, where standard psychiatric drugs have not worked and offer no relief.”

A clinical trial led by Compass Pathways, the mental healthcare firm that led the trial conducted at 22 sites across the UK, Europe and North America last year found that a single dose of so-called magic mushrooms combined with psychotherapy helped alleviate depression in nearly a third of patients with severe depression.

Leading scientists, however, have warned that licensing rules and a lack of funding are holding back the psychedelic field of medicine in the UK.

Professor David Nutt, the former government drug adviser and director of the neuropsychopharmacology research unit at Imperial College London said potential treatments would remain in limbo unless regulations change.

“Patients are being denied access because of the regulations,” he said. “The research is really hampered by the legal status.”