Scientist Argues That Using Psychedelics Is Safer Than Riding a Bike

By McCarton Ackerman 06/12/15

The non-profit organization EmmaSofia wants to increase access to quality controlled psychedelics.

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Is using psychedelic drugs as easy as riding a bike? A pair of scientists argued in a letter published this week in the Lancet Psychiatric Journal that, if nothing else, MDMA and magic mushrooms are just as safe as riding one.

Terri Krebs, an American research fellow within the Department of Neuroscience at the Norway University of Science and Technology, co-wrote the letter with her Norwegian husband Pål-Ørjan Johansen, a clinical psychologist. The couple set up a non-profit organization, EmmaSofia, which wants to increase access to quality controlled psychedelics and MDMA, as well as promote human rights for psychedelic users. They want to further their efforts to legalize these drugs, which they believe can be used to treat addictions to other substances, and recently launched a crowdfunding scheme that looks to raise $30,000.

“Although psychedelics can induce temporary confusion and emotional turmoil, hospitalizations and serious injuries are extremely rare. Overall psychedelics are not particularly dangerous when compared with other common activities,” said Krebs. Johansen, who claims that he used MDMA and magic mushrooms to beat his own battle with alcohol addiction, also argued that “MDMA is not illegal because it’s dangerous; it can be dangerous because it’s illegal.”

Several academics have endorsed the work of EmmaSofia, including professor David Nutt, a former drugs advisor to the UK government. Several studies have already touted the benefits of psychedelics in helping patients with terminal cancer, post-traumatic stress disorder and brain injuries by alleviating anxiety and helping them find new perspective.

But there has been a bit of push back from their letter. A spokesman for Britain’s PHE Health and Wellbeing Directorate said it was unethical to treat drug addiction with another illegal substance, while the UK Home Office confirmed they “have no intention of legalizing drugs.” Medical professionals in the UK also expressed reservations towards using psychedelics to treat drug addiction.

“In a clinical setting we see the adverse psychological consequences of young people using drugs such as MDMA,” said consultant psychiatrist Dr. Paul McLaren. “The effects are often unpredictable and can be influenced by an individual’s vulnerability and the context in which the drug is used. Regular use can have adverse effects on intellectual functioning, and usage can also trigger anxiety and mood disorders."

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.