The Legal History of Psychedelics

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In the 1950s and early 1960s, over 1,000 scientific papers were written about LSD, an exciting phenomenon new to Western medicine that offered an unprecedented window into brain function and revolutionary potential in mental health care. By 1970, the status of LSD and other psychedelics had changed dramatically; they were branded a menace to society and were included in Schedule I of the new federal Controlled Substances Act, the category for substances with no currently accepted medical use. Almost 50 years later, research into the therapeutic potential of psychedelics has resumed and their use in spiritual and healing practices both with and without clinical supervision has been widely reported, yet they remain prohibited under the threat of severe criminal penalties. The City Bar’s Drugs & the Law Committee convened a panel of experts to examine the legal history of these mysterious and controversial drugs.

Rick Doblin, PhD, Founder and Executive Director, Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS)
Nancy Hollander, Freedman Boyd Hollander Goldberg Urias & Ward P.A., Counsel for plaintiff in Gonzales v. O Centro Espirita Beneficente Uniao do Vegetal, 546 U.S. 418 (2006)
Carolyn Reinach Wolf, Executive Partner, Abrams, Fensterman, Fensterman, Eisman, Formato, Ferrara, Wolf & Carone, LLP
Natalie Ginsberg, Policy & Advocacy Director, Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS)

Noah Potter, Author, Psychedelic Law Blog

Sponsoring Association Committee:
Drugs & the Law Committee, Zarah Levin-Fragasso, Chair

Co-Sponsoring Association Committee:
Bioethical Issues Committee, Mary Beth Morrissey, Chair