The Nuances of Psychedelics and How to Regulate Their Non-Medical Use

Thu May 16 2024 at 02:00 pm to 05:00 pm

Manchester Metropolitan University - Manchester School of Art - Benzie Building | Manchester

The Nuances of Psychedelics and How to Regulate Their Non-Medical Use A collaborative event exploring the nuances of the non-medical use of psychedelics.
About this Event

In recent years, we have been experiencing a so-called ‘psychedelic renaissance’. Although prevalence is relatively low, European data suggests, in many countries, there are upward trends in the use of traditional substances like LSD and psilocybin (‘magic mushrooms’), alongside the emergence of new psychoactive substances, for instance, 25I-NBOMe (EMCDDA, 2023). However, to date, academic research on psychedelics is largely focused on their potential medical and therapeutic value in clinical settings. Yet, consumption of psychedelics outside of formal clinical settings is more common. Whilst research in this context is developing in the UK, we can also learn from emerging research in Europe about the many ways in which psychedelics are used in non-medical settings, the role they play in people's lives, how they become important, the impact of online media and communities, and the challenges they pose for drug policy reform.

This half-day workshop in collaboration with the Centre for Alcohol and Drug Research (CADR), Aarhus, Denmark, Transform UK, the Department of Sociology, Manchester Metropolitan University and the Department of Criminology, University of Manchester, will explore the nuances of the non-medical use of psychedelics and how they can be regulated to reduce harm and the negative impacts of criminalisation. Drawing on CADR’s ground-breaking, multidisciplinary, mixed-methods study, the various nuances of psychedelics, including ‘bad trips’, harm reduction activism, underground psychedelic therapy, and psychedelic discourses on social media, from the perspectives of different communities e.g., users (recreational, therapeutic, and spiritual), therapists, activists, online communities, and practitioners in treatment and prevention, will be explored. The differing interests, interpretations, agendas, and stakes at play in the field of psychedelics will be highlighted, illustrating how creating the future of psychedelics is highly complex. At this critical moment of change, Transform, a leading UK-based charity campaigning for drug law reform has prepared a guide, How to Regulate Psychedelics. Ester Kincová, their Public Affairs and Policy Manager, will discuss how the ‘psychedelic renaissance’ has created a new and urgent domain for policymakers and public institutions to develop new policies and practices addressing areas such as regulation, harm reduction, treatment, and prevention.

The objectives of the workshop are to:

1. increase understanding of the different contexts in which psychedelics are used beyond clinical settings, the motivations for use, and the different actors involved;

2. increase understanding of the challenges the non-medical use of psychedelics present for drug policy reform and how these can be resolved;

3. initiate conversations and ideas around the potential for UK based research in this rapidly expanding area of policy and research interest;

4. establish collaborative networks between academics and research centres with CADR;

5. engage key stakeholders, including substance use and mental health services, and public health commissioners in discussions about psychedelics and the implications for practice and commissioning of services.

Indicative schedule:

2.00-2.05: Welcome (Prof. Rob Ralphs, Deputy Director of MMU’s Drugs, Policy and Social Change Research Centre, and Dr Lisa Williams, Deputy Head of the Department of Criminology, University of Manchester)

2.05-2.20: Introduction to and overview of The Psychedelic Renaissance research project (Dr Margit Anne Petersen, Associate Professor & Dr Oskar Enghoff, Assistant Professor, CADR)

2.20-2.45: Psychedelic therapy outside clinical settings: perspectives from underground facilitators, and drug prevention/treatment workers in Danish municipalities, and their clients (Dr Margit Anne Petersen)

2.45-2.55: Break

2.55-3.20: Harm reduction practices: perspectives from users, drug-dealers, activists and clinical researchers (Dr Oskar Enghoff)

3.20-3.45: How to Regulate Psychedelics (Ester Kincová, Public Affairs and Policy Manager, Transform)

3.45-3.55: Break

3.55-4.15: Conflicting perspectives on psychedelics through the notion of ‘the bad trip’ (Dr Margit Anne Petersen and Dr Oskar Enghoff)

4.15-4.40: Future research agendas: Discussion and questions

4.40-5.00: Networking and refreshments

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Ester Kincová is the Public Affairs and Policy Manager at the UK charity think tank, Transform Drug Policy Foundation and the co-author of its new publication How to Regulate Psychedelics. Her work focuses primarily on drug policy reform within the UK, working with local and central government, from advocating for implementation of harm reduction interventions through to decriminalisation and the legal regulation of drugs. She is passionate about ensuring social equity and resisting corporate capture in existing and emerging regulated drug markets.

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Margit Anne Petersen (Associate Professor at the Centre for Alcohol and Drug Research at Aarhus University) has a background in anthropology. Her research focuses on psychedelic drug use and self-improvement practices. Her doctoral research focused on cognitive enhancement practices among university students in New York City and Copenhagen, with a particular focus on the moral dilemmas that arise with such drug use. She also held a post doc position at the Department of Marketing and Management at The University of Southern Denmark, where she was part of a collaborative research project funded by the Danish National Research Council called ‘The Self as a Laboratory’, investigating optimization practices based on substances, spirituality and technology.

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Oskar Enghoff (Assistant Professor at the Centre for Alcohol and Drugs Research, Aarhus University, Denmark) has a background in sociology and criminology, and focuses on the emergence of illicit drug consumption practices through social and communal interactions, especially in online settings. Currently, he is part of a project studying how the ongoing “psychedelic renaissance” is shaping psychedelic consumption in Denmark, including the role of online platforms such as social media.

Event Venue

Manchester Metropolitan University - Manchester School of Art - Benzie Building, Boundary Street West, Manchester, United Kingdom


GBP 0.00

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