September update

Posted Tue 15th Sep 2015, 3:02pm

Welcome to the September update (and magic mushroom season)!

1. Upcoming events

2. Submission to Home Affairs Committee inquiry on novel psychoactive substances

The Home Affairs Committee recently held a short inquiry into novel psychoactive substances in the context of the government’s proposed Psychoactive Substances Bill.

Our submission, prepared by the Psychedelic Society’s director Stephen Reid, argues for an exemption category for ‘Psychedelic substances used in a ceremonial or therapeutic context’, and for 1P-LSD to be exempt under this category. We’ll let you know if we hear back.

3. Legal psychedelic retreats

We’re putting together a list of legal, publicly advertised psychedelic retreats in the UK and Europe, for example, psilohuasca.com, The Sacred Voyage, ayahausca.nl and The Fasting Path. If you can recommend one, reply to this email and let us know.

4. Cannabis

Following the petition to legalise cannabis on the government’s e-petition site, a debate has been scheduled for 12th October. Write to your MP asking them to attend the debate.

5. Jeremy Corbyn elected!

Jeremy Corbyn, the new leader of Labour Party, called for “an urgent evaluation of our drug control strategies” as recently as June. We’ll be working to engage with Labour on drug policy over the coming weeks.

6. What’s hot on Facebook

"One of the interesting things about psychedelics is that there is an enormous amount of sympathy in the general public to their use, particularly as medicines,” explains Professor Nutt. “A lot of people are very angry that they have been denied to the public as medicines for over 50 years."

7. Donate to the Psychedelic Society

So far no one has been paid to work on the Society, and as the director, it's taking up increasing amounts of my time. Will you chip-in to cover the time I spend working on the Society at the London Living Wage?

Keep an eye out over the coming weeks for details of a special event with Daniel Pinchbeck, the launch of the Psychedelic Society of Brighton and the next London social.

Best wishes,
Stephen and the Psychedelic Society team

Will you chip in £9.15 for the Psychedelic Society?

Posted Wed 12th Aug 2015, 4:29pm

Imagine this:

The year is 2023. You walk into the pharmacy and head towards the 'psychoactive substances' section. On the top shelf, there are pharmaceutically pure psychedelics including DMT, mescaline and LSD, all available legally, and at affordable prices. On the shelf below, dried magic mushrooms of many varieties. You pick up a pack of DMT and head to the checkout, where the pharmacist checks your age and asks you a series of questions to ensure you understand how to use the substance safely. As you head out of the shop, you bump into a colleague from work, who's just bought some 2C-B. She explains how she's felt calmer and kinder since she stopped drinking and started using psychedelics.

The Psychedelic Society is working to make this dream a reality.

We're in the midst of a 'psychedelic renaissance', and the Society is playing a key role. In just 10 months, we have:

  • created a buzz around psychedelics through our 30+ events and social media posts that reach more than 50,000 people a week
  • made headlines in the Guardian, Independent, BBC, ITV, Huffington Post, Sky, Buzzfeed and more
  • formed strong relationships with people and organisations including Prof. David Nutt, Transform, Release, The Beckley Foundation and UK Cannabis Social Clubs

So far no one has been paid to work on the Society, and as the director, it's taking up increasing amounts of my time. I'm writing to ask whether you'll chip in £9.15/month to cover an hour of the time I spend working on the Society at the London Living Wage.

I'm an experienced campaigner and organiser, having served as a board member of Greenpeace UK and co-founded the anti-austerity group UK Uncut and the New Economics Foundation's New Economy Organisers Network. With your support, I'm confident I can take the Society to the next level.

Click here to cover an hour of my time

Over the coming months, I'll be working with the many other brilliant people involved in the Psychedelic Society to:

  • push police forces to turn a blind eye to the possession of magic mushrooms (following similar moves on cannabis)
  • campaign for the rescheduling of psychedelics from Schedule 1 to Schedule 2 to facilitate medical research
  • lobby political parties to ensure others join the Liberal Democrats and Greens in backing drug law reform
  • take further creative action over the government's illiberal and irrational Psychoactive Substances Bill
  • look into organising legal, professionally guided psychedelic retreats using 1P-LSD (in the UK) or mushrooms (elsewhere in Europe)
  • continue expanding our local groups programme and organise more quality events
  • grow the conversation about psychedelics through both social and mainstream media

The war on drugs is ending, and the dream of a 'psychedelic society' is absolutely achievable in this generation.

Cover an hour of my time and help turn the dream into reality.

Thank you,

Stephen Reid
Director, The Psychedelic Society

Stephen Reid, Director

August update

Posted Fri 7th Aug 2015, 3:02pm

1. Coverage of Nitrous Oxide in Parliament Square

On Saturday 1st August, we staged a mass inhalation of nitrous oxide in Parliament Square to protest against the government’s proposed Psychoactive Substances Bill, which would ban trade in all psychoactive substances except for alcohol, nicotine and caffeine. The sale of the rather wonderful 1P-LSD would be banned under the bill.

The main objective of the action was to promote the concept of cognitive liberty and the legalisation and regulation of drugs in the mainstream media. By this measure it was a real success, with coverage from The Guardian, The Independent, BBC, BBC Bristol, IFLScience, London Live, ITV, Huffington Post and Sky amongst others.

We’ll be in touch again soon with more action you can take over the bill. Thanks to everyone who came or shared content!

2. Upcoming events

3. Progress on cannabis

We were pleased to hold the Nitrous Oxide in Parliament Square action in conjunction with the cannabis activist organisations UK Cannabis Social Clubs, NORML UK and London Cannabis Club.

The cannabis movement is really on fire at the moment, having collected over 190,000 signatures on a petition to force a debate on cannabis legalisation in Parliament and celebrating the news that police forces across the UK will turn a blind eye to personal use and growing.

The legalisation of cannabis in the UK will probably be a stepping stone to the legalisation of psychedelics. We encourage you to lend these groups your support (and sign the petition)!

4. Labour leadership election

For several reasons, not least the pace of cannabis legalisation in the US, there's a good chance drug law reform will be a hot topic in the UK general election in 2020.

Labour is currently holding a leadership election, and the candidate who seems most likely to support legal regulation of drugs is Jeremy Corbyn. You can vote for him in the leadership election by signing up as a 'registered supporter' for just £3 (you don't have to actually join the Labour Party).

5. What’s hot on Facebook

6. Other events


Best wishes,
The Psychedelic Society team

David Nutt and Stephen Reid on BBC Radio Bristol

Posted Mon 3rd Aug 2015, 1:32pm

Listen to Prof. David Nutt and Stephen Reid debate the government's proposed Psychoactive Substances Bill on BBC Radio Bristol:

Press release: Mass inhalation of nitrous oxide to take place outside Parliament in protest over drug bill

Posted Sun 26th Jul 2015, 2:23pm

Mass inhalation of nitrous oxide to take place at Parliament in protest over drug bill

First protest of its kind highlights momentum for legal regulation as an alternative to prohibition


Email stephen.reid@psychedelicsociety.org.uk

Phone 07740364130


Hundreds of people are to gather in Parliament Square on Saturday 1st August to inhale colourful balloons of laughing gas in a protest against government proposals to ban trade in all psychoactive substances except for alcohol, nicotine and caffeine [1]. Legal highs used for decades such as nitrous oxide (laughing gas) and amyl nitrate (poppers) would be caught under the proposed legislation.


The event, organised by a coalition of by pro-regulation groups including The Psychedelic Society, NORML UK and Cannabis Social Clubs [2], will see people gathering in Parliament Square from 2pm. Shortly before 3pm, people will use whipped cream dispensers to charge balloons with nitrous oxide. As the clock strikes 3pm, demonstrators will inhale en masse. [4]


The protest comes shortly after the groups helped to collect well over 100,000 signatures on an official petition to legalise cannabis, forcing MPs to consider a debate on the topic [4]. It also follows news that Durham police force has de facto decriminalised the production and possession of cannabis for personal use [5].


Stephen Reid, the director of the Psychedelic Society [6], said:


"The government’s rationale for prohibiting trade in psychoactive substances is that their use can be risky. Yet we allow plenty of risky activities in society, for example, horseriding, skydiving and bungee jumping. Yes, the use of psychoactive substances can be risky, but it should be for individuals to decide whether or not to take the risk. People should be able to buy, sell and use whatever substances they want, so long as there's no harm to others."


"It is true that a small number of people have developed health problems from the overuse of a few novel psychoactive substances that attempt to mimic established but currently prohibited drugs such as cannabis and MDMA. The best solution in this case is to make cannabis and MDMA available through legally regulated outlets, along with the provision of realistic and quality drug education on how to use these substances safely. There is, for example, no market for synthetic cannabis in the Netherlands where cannabis is sold from licensed premises."


"The fact is most people enjoy using drugs, whether nitrous oxide, coffee or alcohol, and that careful legal regulation is the fairest and safest solution. Rather than follow the failed path of prohibition, the government should be looking to the United States, where cannabis is now entirely legal in four states, with many more soon to follow."


Notes to editors


[1] The measures are contained in the Psychoactive Substances Bill. Similar legislation enacted in Ireland in 2010 closed down most ‘head shops’, but the market simply moved to the street and online. NPS use in Ireland actually increased from 16% in 2011 to 22% in 2014, with use amongst young people (16-24) the highest in the EU. For a detailed critique, see Transform’s ‘5 Reasons why the New ‘Psychoactive Substances Bill’ should be scrapped, and 1 Reason to commend it’ at http://www.tdpf.org.uk/blog/5-reasons-why-new-%E2%80%98psychoactive-substances-bill%E2%80%99-should-be-scrapped-and-1-reason-commend-it


[2] Facebook event at https://www.facebook.com/events/496668680496538/


[3] Advice cards will be distributed on how to use nitrous oxide safely, and measures are in place to ensure that no rubbish is left behind.


[4] Petition at https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/104349. See http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/jul/25/cannabis-legalisation-petition-government-website for background


[5] See http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/jul/22/durham-police-stop-targeting-pot-smokers-and-small-scale-growers for background


[6] The Psychedelic Society is a nonprofit organisation campaigning for psychedelics to be made available for careful personal and medical use. See http://www.psychedelicsociety.org.uk/. Read more on Stephen Reid’s position at http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/along-with-hundreds-of-others-im-going-to-inhale-laughing-gas-outside-parliament-to-protest-the-tories-stance-on-legal-highs-10312728.html