An MP has called on the government to ease restrictions on a drug found in magic mushrooms to allow it to be used to treat mental health conditions.
Charlotte Nichols spoke about her own experience of PTSD as she urged ministers to make it easier to research potential medicinal uses of psilocybin.
The Labour MP described her condition as “living hell”.
The government said it was looking at how to reduce barriers to legitimate research.
Leading a debate on the issue in the Commons, Ms Nichols said psilocybin could offer “a light at the end of a very dark tunnel and finally give me my life back”, as well as helping millions of others with mental health conditions.
The MP for Warrington North said she was first diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after being the victim of a crime.
She described the “debilitating” impact of the condition, including panic attacks and spending a month as a psychiatric inpatient after being sectioned.
Ms Nichols said numerous studies had found psilocybin to be effective for a range of mental health conditions including PTSD, depression, anorexia and addiction.
“It feels like institutional cruelty to condemn us to our misery when there are proven, safe, and effective treatment options if the government would only let us access them,” she said.
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Psilocybin is currently listed under Schedule 1 of the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001, alongside other substances including MDMA (ecstasy) and LSD.
This means it cannot be lawfully possessed or prescribed and can only be used for the purposes of research with a Home Office licence.
However, Conservative MP Crispin Blunt said the cost of obtaining and complying with a license was prohibitive for many researchers.
He told the Commons it was “scandalous” the government had not prioritised reclassifying psilocybin and that it was “unethical to wait any longer”.
Home Office Minister Robert Jenrick said the government wanted to “tackle this issue across all categories of section one drugs, to reduce barriers to legitimate research rather than focus on individual drugs”.
He added: “Equally, we must keep a firm focus on the need to tackle drug misuse, which causes such harm across our society.
“Both of these are vitally important aims and we will continue working to strike the right balance in the interests of the public.”
Ms Nichols said she was disappointed by the minister’s response, adding that there was “a real lack of urgency” on the issue from the government.
Recent studies on the impact of psilocybin as a treatment for mental health conditions like depression have shown promising results but experts say more research is needed to assess the long-term effects.
Misuse of psilocybin can also trigger psychotic episodes, according to the NHS.
Source: Psilocybin: Calls to ease restrictions on magic mushroom drug