Why Drug Laws Are Interfering With Medical Research

Why Drug Laws Are Interfering With Medical Research


Tommy Wyher* For too long now, and all over the world, irrational drug laws have seriously interfered with medical research. Marijuana is yet to be legalized in many parts of the world, and as a result there is even a hindrance on medical research.

Despite the fact that we have established that marijuana does have medicinal properties, there is still a resistance to further study those properties.

This is effectively hindering our ability to research something that could potentially benefit an entire world of people, the same way we had the ability to research penicillin once upon a time.

At this stage, we can’t prove whether some chemicals have medical benefits or not because of the inability to do the research. And this is not a movement to legalize drugs, but to soften the laws to allow for some study to occur.

David Nutt and his philosophy about drug laws

Professor David Nutt was a former government drug adviser, and he is also a neuroscientist. According to Nutt, what we are currently in is the descending Dark Age over medical research because of drug laws.

Professor David Nutt Image: Tim Ireland/PA
Professor David Nutt
Image: Tim Ireland/PA

He once worked on the government’s Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, but he was sacked when he made comments about the safety of certain drugs. Nutt stated that his findings were that tobacco and alcohol were more dangerous and more often misused than drugs such as LSD, ecstasy, and cocaine.

He was effectively removed from his position in 2009 for making these comments.

Professor Nutt makes a point of saying that the UK was one of the leading researchers in the constituents of cannabis, and that they brought a lot of this information to the world.

However, the UK (and other parts of the world alike) have failed to take advantage of these things because of the harsh drug laws that most governments have in place. Nutt’s forthright drug opinions have never failed to make it to the news, and they have kept his personality in good celebrity even since losing his job in the government.

The problem is much bigger than cannabis

Although research on cannabis has been greatly hindered because of drug laws, the problem is even greater than that. Governments are quick to jump on new street drugs, making them completely illegal across the board, even banning scientists from getting their hands on them for research.

There are people in society who don’t even understand how much these drug laws have affected the ability for scientists to conduct research.

For example, authorities impose “temporary ban orders,” which usually occur when a new drug has found its way to the streets.

This doesn’t just stop scientists from researching the potential risks of these drugs (because it is important to know, even if they have been banned, for the sake of education), but also imposes on science’s ability to identify any therapeutic uses that the substance might have for the human body.

Possible therapeutic properties of MDMA have never been exploited

Almost two decades ago, scientists discovered that MDMA could have some therapeutic properties, especially for those suffering from Parkinson’s disease. During this research scientists found that a lot of Parkinson’s patients were finding that their movements were less coordinated the more time they spent on conventional, pharmaceutical drug treatments.

When they administered these patients with MDMA, which is the active ingredient in ecstasy, they found that they were able to control some of the problems that these patients were having. But of course, because it is illegal, it was never administered as a therapy, and even less research has been conducted ever since.

In the US, they found that MDMA could also be used to create a better mood for those suffering from trauma or depression, and this enabled more acceptance of therapy from the patient. However, Professor David Nutt confirms that even if the clinical trial took place in the UK, it is unlikely a doctor would ever have the rights to use MDMA as therapy.

LSD to treat addictions

LSDThere was a time when research on the chemical LSD was allowed, and what they found was astounding. This research took place in the 1960s, before LSD was made illegal all over the world. Research discovered that LSD is extremely effective in treating alcohol addictions, which suggests that it can be effective in treating other addictions as well.

However, LSD became illegal after that, and literally no more research was ever undertaken on the amazing property of this chemical.

“The science of consciousness, the science of serotonin, the science of empathy, those basic sciences are limited by the current rules to a point where people don’t even consider [it],” said Professor David Nutt.

His statement rings true on so many levels, considering the fact that perhaps governments need to have more empathy, and that empathy itself is the therapy that is so desperately required.

Moving forward

The world has been stuck in this drug ditch for a long time, and there has been a constant war over it. Some people believe that we have already assessed that these drugs are bad for people and offer no medicinal properties, and they have simply believed this because they are illegal.

The truth is that the illegality has completely stunted any research into finding out the truth about whether or not these substances can offer therapeutic benefits to people.

The problem is that we don’t actually have any real knowledge about these substances, and governments are standing in the way of us acquiring this knowledge. We don’t actually know how bad these things are for human beings, or how beneficial they are for human beings.

Moving forward means at least softening the laws to a place where we can do the research and identify the dangers and the therapeutic benefits. It should then be up to the people to decide whether or not they want to participate in those therapies, much the same way a doctor can prescribe something and advise of the side effects.

The patient then gets to choose whether or not they would like to take said medicine.

*Author Bio:  Tommy Wyher  is a Tampa, Florida native and freelance writer who graduated from UNC Chapel Hill and  who has also consulted for a variety of large corporations. 

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