Welsh police boss wants magic mushrooms reclassified and used to treat mental health problems

A Welsh police boss wants magic mushrooms to be reclassified so research can be carried out on the psychedelic compound psilocybin, and its effectiveness in treating mental health problems.

North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones has written to MPs asking them to support calls to reclassify psilocybin.

It is currently classified as a Class A drug which means those caught in possession of magic mushrooms could face up to 7 years in prison and an unlimited fine.

Mr Jones has previously argued that cannabis should be sold in off-licences and controlled in a similar way to alcohol.

Psilocybin is the psychedelic ingredient in magic mushrooms. Credit: Reuters

Research from King’s College London and the University of Manchester suggests psilocybin could be used to treat people with mental health problems.

Reclassifying the drug would allow for large-scale clinical trials.

Mr Jones said: “The fact that psilocybin is classified as a Class A drug means there has been a research blackout for nearly 50 years into the beneficial effect it can have in improving the lives of people suffering from PTSD and depression.

“It’s a psychoactive compound which induces temporary changes in mood through the activation of serotonin receptors in the brain.

“This new research from scientists clearly shows psilocybin has been wrongly classified as being harmful when it is in fact a potentially revolutionary medicine.

North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones.

“The pandemic has resulted in many people in North Wales suffering from social isolation, stressful working conditions and a lack of family contact, allied to concerns about the impact of the economic crisis on their lives.

“This is why I have written to the MPs seeking their support to overturn this erroneous classification

“It is vital to reschedule Psilocybin from Schedule 1 to 2 so that it can be easier and less expensive  to research its impact on various mental illnesses including PTSD and depression.”

What are the risks associated with magic mushrooms?

Drug advice service Frank warns that consuming magic mushrooms can cause people to feel dizzy, sick, have diarrhoea and develop stomach pains.

It also warns the "biggest danger" to your health is eating a poisonous mushroom by mistake and anyone who does so should seek medical help as soon as possible.

Mind warns that taking magic mushrooms for recreational purposes can make mental health problems worse.

The mental health charity says effects include hallucinations, which could be frightening, and people can feel "disconnected and out of control."

Dr James Rucker, an expert in psychopharmacology at King’s College London said clinical trials have shown psilocybin therapy is an "effective new treatment."

He said: “About a third of people suffering with major depression don’t get better with  standard drug and psychological treatments.

“Good quality, small scale clinical trials have indicated that psilocybin therapy is an effective new treatment for those people.

“We now need to perform large scale trials to confirm this. However, psilocybin is designated a ‘Schedule 1’ drug by the UK Government. This makes large scale clinical trials very difficult and very expensive to conduct.

“Schedule 1 designation is unnecessary because psilocybin is not dangerous and not addictive when compared to other drugs.

“Therefore, we are asking the UK Government to review the Schedule of psilocybin, so that we can work more efficiently to bring a potential new treatment to patients who are suffering, and dying, every day with major depression.”