Psychedelic Medicine Research and Drug Policy Reform

Venue: The Round Room, on Saturday.

Rory Spowers in discussion with Amanda Feilding of Beckley Foundation, Dr David Luke from Greenwich University, and David Restrepo from the Centre for the Study of Security and Drugs in Colombia. They’ll be exploring the latest research in psychedelic medicines and the role they might play in reshaping drug policy.

After nearly fifty years, the moratorium on psychedelic drug research has been lifted and the media is awash with stories about the almost miraculous efficacy of psychedelic compounds when treating conditions from cancer and addiction to depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). What are the implication of this so-called ‘Psychedelic Renaissance’ on our healthcare systems and approach to drug policy legislation? How can these drugs be integrated, safely and effectively, minimising risk and improving lives? To explore this fascinating area, The Re-Generation founder Rory Spowers will be joined by Amanda Feilding, whose work with the Beckley Foundation has been at the forefront of this debate for decades, and Dr David Luke, one of the UK’s leading psychedelic researchers. Are we on the cusp on a revolution in healthcare, regenerating minds, bodies and even our relationship to nature itself, through the wise and judicious application of compounds such as cannabis, psilocybin and MDMA?

Amanda Feilding is the founder and executive director of the Beckley Foundation, and has been called the ‘hidden hand’ behind the renaissance of psychedelic research, and her contribution to global drug policy has also been pivotal and widely acknowledged. By establishing key research collaborations with some of the world’s most prestigious universities, she has propelled the field forward over the last 20 years, conducting several landmark studies, such as the world’s first LSD brain imaging study. Amanda set up the Beckley Foundation in 1998 with two main aims: firstly, to investigate consciousness and its changing states and secondly, to reform global drug policy by developing evidence-based, health-oriented, harm-reducing, cost-effective drug policies which respect human rights. Through her work with the Beckley Foundation, Amanda is bridging the gap between science and policy, allowing them to complement and inform one another, ultimately harnessing our knowledge of the benefits of many prohibited substances to maximise human wellbeing and potential.

Dr David Luke is Senior Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Greenwich. His research focuses on transpersonal experiences, anomalous phenomena and altered states of consciousness, especially via psychedelics, having published more than 100 academic papers in this area, including nine books, most recently DMT Dialogues: Encounters with the Spirit Molecule (2018) with Rory Spowers and Anton Bilton, and Otherworlds: Psychedelics and Exceptional Human Experience (2017). When he is not running clinical drug trials with LSD, doing DMT field experiments or observing apparent weather control with Mexican shamans, he directs the Ecology, Cosmos and Consciousness salon at the Institute of Ecotechnics, London, and is a cofounder and director of Breaking Convention: International Conference on Psychedelic Consciousness. He has given over 300 invited public lectures and conference presentations, won teaching, research and writing awards, organised numerous festivals, conferences, symposia, seminars, retreats, expeditions, pagan cabarets and pilgrimages, and has studied techniques of consciousness alteration from South America to India, from the perspective of scientists, shamans and Shivaites. He lives life on the edge, of Sussex.

David Restrepo is the director of the newly launched Coca & Rural Development programme at the Centre for the Study of Security and Drugs in Universidad de los Andes, Colombia. The programme seeks to address the acute knowledge gaps regarding the coca plant, using participatory research methods that advance science whilst defending rural communities’ cultural property. Originally from Cali, Colombia, David worked in London for 10 years as a strategy consultant and product director in healthcare information technology. Alongside his University work, he advises impact investment funds that focus on promoting community governance, food sovereignty, social equity and environmental regeneration by accelerating local agriculture innovations.