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



Stephen Reid talks about nitrous oxide on BBC Radio 4's Inside Health

Posted Wed 24th Jun 2015, 10:24am

The Psychedelic Society's director, Stephen Reid, was interviewed on BBC Radio 4's Inside Health about nitrous oxide in the context of the government's proposed Psychoactive Substances Bill, which would ban trade in all psychoactive substances except for alcohol, nicotine and tobacco.

What do you think about government moves to ban [nitrous oxide and other] so-called legal highs?

I think they're absurd, quite frankly. It's a very significant infringement of the liberty of people who want to alter their state using nitrous oxide and maybe not alcohol. The fact is, nitrous oxide, by many measures, is much safer than alcohol, so why should the government be able to tell me, direct me to using a more harmful substance?

Listen to the full programme

Join our action in Parliament Square on Saturday 1st August:

DMT as a catalyst for moving beyond depression

Posted Wed 17th Jun 2015, 3:20pm

Video and text of a talk given by Jamie Richards at the Psychedelic Society of London social on 29th April 2015. Sound quality of the video improves after the first minute.

I wanted to do a short talk for you today, on the extremely beneficial results my experiences with DMT have had regarding my journey to overcome depression.

A few years back, I would never have chosen to stand up here in front of you all – it would have petrified me. And, no doubt, I’m still nervous, but through my experiences with DMT, I realised how so many of my actions are either driven from fear, or driven from love, and in this moment, I choose love. I also think it’s really important to communicate honestly and openly about our experiences.

Aged sixteen, at a trance party in north London, a friend and I brought a handful of Fat Freddy paper blotters. Soon after, on a hillside in Wiltshire, I had my first acid trip. It was incredible - awe-inspiring, life changing, mind-opening- all of the above.

By the time I was eighteen, I’d had my fair share of psychedelic experiences. I valued them all, but at that point in my life, underneath the outward psychedelic playfulness, I was struggling, and had been for some years. I had been suffering from depression and anxiety, and tripping was something I needed to shelve for a while. In my heart I knew I had found a tool that could open my eyes to a new way of seeing, but I was damaged from the experience of growing up in a society full of prejudice, with an education system preaching out a misguided interpretation of the route towards a successful life.

In trying to protect myself, I shut out that part of me that entheogens had opened up, and began to self-destruct. During the following eight years, I was diagnosed with anxiety & depression and started the toxic journey into psychiatric medications. I also started self-medicating, found heroin and fostered a heinous dependency on opiates.

Fast forwarding fourteen years, to a year and a half ago, I was engaged to my wonderful partner Phil, I had a home in north London and I had been clean from opiates for five and a half years. However, despite much of my life having turned around, I was depressed, full of fear and lacking direction. I had tried medication, therapy, mindfulness, meditation, yet I nonetheless continued to experience periods of deep depression.

I have always been interested in the entheogenic experience and altered states of consciousness. DMT was to my small amount of knowledge at that time, one of the strongest psychedelics known to mankind. The thought of re-engaging with the psychedelic experience in my depressed frame of mind might now seem a little unhinged. I knew of the importance of set and setting, and I knew that a depressed state of mind was not an ideal ‘set’, for my initial experience with DMT. Apart from the one very influential experience with the plant medicine Ibogaine, during the height of my addiction, I hadn’t touched any psychedelic substances for well over a decade. After all that time without ingesting an entheogen, I felt intuitively called to experience DMT – I was looking for answers and that is where my search took me.

DMT has been the catalyst for more personal positive change, than anything else, I have come across in my life. Since that initial experience, my partner, my brother and I have had many wonderful ceremonies together, and the realisations and lessons I have taken from those sessions continued to astound and assist me to move forwards towards a place in which I can honestly say I have never felt happier.

I’m not standing here holding DMT on a pedestal as the bringer of all solutions, and it’s certainly not for everyone. But for me, it was exactly what the doctor ordered – or rather didn’t. DMT has been a catalyst, it has been a gift and a tool, enabling me to look far beyond my personal circumstances, to let go of the vast amount of fear I was carrying, to recognise home truths and to embrace a life of lightness and love, rather than the dark and somewhat heavy path I had been manifesting.

One of the primary things I have become aware of is just how fear driven my life was previously. I have always considered myself a creative person, however during one trip, I realised what an overwhelming role fear had played in my creative process. The fear of whatever artwork or piece of writing I was working on not being good enough, and the need to try and control the outcome of the creative process. So much of my anxiety and depression was driven by this sense of fear. And my awareness of how pointless that was, has allowed me to begin the journey of letting it go.

My experiences with this medicine have also been very helpful for my relationships. Though my brother is an open-hearted loving person and we had always been very close, like so many families, we had created certain dynamics that were not benefitting our relationship. During one particular DMT ceremony, I found myself connecting to what some may term the the Godhead, or source - my brother could tell I was having a somewhat intense experience and came and sat on the floor in-front of me, meditating and holding the space. When I opened my eyes, I saw him and in that moment, I was convinced that he was me, that I was him and my awareness was of a connection to his core spirit. It felt as though our consciousness’s had somehow merged together in a sort of energetic cosmic soup. Putting aside whether or not that was entirely my imagination, the love that I felt both for him and therefore for myself, was so overwhelming, I began to cry. I was then suddenly acutely aware of this deep sense of sadness I had been carrying around with me for a very long time. It wasn’t that I didn’t previously intellectually understand that, but rather that I could now feel it whole-heartedly, and in truly connecting to that, I was able to let it go. Ever since that moment, the connection I feel to my brother and to myself, has extended beyond what I could have ever hoped for.

Feeling, experiencing, knowing the connectivity that exists between all life on this planet, is truly an incredible catalyst for moving past a persons everyday concerns. When it comes to joyful means of moving past depression, experiencing that white light of pure connectivity with source, definitely beats psychiatric medication and therapy.

It can feel so easy to feel insignificant, lost and alone in this capitalist consumer driven society, so lacking in equality and an ethical mind-set. Having the opportunity to experience whole-heartedly, that what we see is not all there is - that surrounding us, every moment of every day, the life-force energy that connects every human, animal and plant, is so rich, so beautiful complex and sacred. It’s beyond enough to remind you who you really are. And remembering that cornel of truth, has for me, been a gateway to a sense of inner peace and love, that put simply, annihilated the delusion of mental health problems I was so caught up in.

The concept of a universal consciousness and the infinite power of love and connectivity that we are all a part of, were ideas that I thought I understood, but understanding something intellectually, and truly feeling it, knowing it beyond a shadow of a doubt, are so entirely different.

The word Entheogen literally means ‘generating God, or the divine, within’ – used to describe a plant or substance that generates the mystical experience. To me, this perfectly describes my experiences with dmt. I’m a person who really needs to experience things himself, and this has had mixed results, leading to both the most wonderful of life experiences, and some pretty harsh ones. I’ve always had a real interest in various eastern philosophies. However, I have also been extremely put off by religious doctrine and in many ways I had allowed that to affect my own spiritual journey. DMT has been a catalyst for spiritual shifts. The author of Tryptamine Palace, James Oroc describes in what I believe to be a perfect manner, the 5-MeO-DMT experience, and though I only have minimal experience with 5-MeO, as I find it a lot harder to source, I relate much of what he says in ‘Tryptamine Palace’ to my experiences with DMT. James Oroc writes “As I let go, I experience dissolution into an omniscient state of oneness, a place where there is no difference between God, the physical universe, or me. We have ceased to exist as separate entities and now resonate as One. I resonate with the possession of a knowledge that radiates with the surest sense of Love – Love that is in everything and is everything, and is so much more. It is a conscious love more intelligent than anything we have ever known, a Love so great that it defies the need for a physical form and yet paradoxically realizes itself in us and in all creation. I become that love and I know everything is One.”

If you are someone who just shut down on hearing the use of the word God in association with the exploration of altered states through plant medicines, I totally get that. I am the last person on earth to stand here and get all evangelical, and referencing God in this instance, has in my mind very little to do with any organised religion that I’m aware of, and more to do with a sense of Oneness and infinite Love that we all possess and are part of. Now, I really do sound like a hippy! But, it just the way I feel. And, it’s working out for me.

Since re-entering the world of entheogenic exploration, with the help of my partner I have methodically reduced myself off all the psychiatric medications I’d accumulated over the past ten years. Alongside daily meditation, yoga and mindfulness practice, throwing myself back into creativity, and using DMT as a reset button when necessary, my life is blossoming in a beautiful direction, my relationships are better than ever, and my depression is almost non-existent. And I know that DMT has played a considerable role in that process - I am hugely grateful for that! I love the psychedelic and proud campaign that’s going on at the moment within the psychedelic society – in this mixed up western society we’ve lost so much of what is sacred. The consumption of entheogens has been at the core of humanities search for the sacred since the earliest days of our societies. It is only in the confused values of our contemporary western mindset, that such explorations are not upheld with the importance that they should be…but hopefully, we can be part of changing that!