UN Warns of Health Dangers in Commercial Psychedelic Drug Use

(Bloomberg) -- Investors funding a “psychedelic renaissance” are outpacing scientific research into substances like Ketamine and LSD, putting potential drug users’ health at risk, the United Nations warned.

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Public interest in and private sector attention to psychedelic therapies are greater than the scientific evidence regarding their effectiveness in improving mental health and cognitive functions, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime said in its annual report on Wednesday.

“The risk is that the perception of psychedelics as the ‘silver bullet’ for mental health disorders and overall mental or spiritual well-being, which is advocated for by a growing number of advocacy groups and commercial interests, will move faster than scientific evidence,” the UN researchers wrote.

The report comes as more companies promote psychedelic therapies. About 15% of the 1,300 psychedelic clinical trials worldwide identified in the report are funded by industry, with the rest backed by public health agencies or education institutions

Mind Medicine Inc., or MindMed, GH Research Plc and Atai Life Sciences NV are among the publicly listed companies that have captured the attention of investors in the $15 billion market. Even as psychedelic decriminalization and usage has been gaining wider acceptance in some jurisdictions, commercial success remains far from certain, with significant concerns over regulation, patents, insurance and pricing.

Early adopters of nonmedical psychedelics overwhelmingly derive from affluent communities, wrote the UN researchers, who forecast the harmful effects of such use will increase “once it becomes more established and spreads to impoverished, marginalized and minority groups.”

Drawing similarities between efforts in 27 US states to legalize marijuana, the UN warned against repeating the same experiment with psychedelics.

“The process appears to accelerate harmful use of the drug,” according to the researchers.

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