Yesterday, on June 30, the Petrie-Flom Center at Harvard Law School announced the launch of a three-year research initiative, the Project on Psychedelics Law and Regulation (POPLAR) led by Harris Bricken attorney Mason Marks.
As we’ve covered extensively on this blog, the FDA has designated MDMA a breakthrough therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder, and it has designated psilocybin as a breakthrough for treatment-resistant depression. These designations indicate that psychedelics may represent substantial improvements over existing treatments for mental health conditions. Many other psychedelics, including ibogaine, ketamine, and dimethyltryptamine, are the focus of ongoing psychiatric research and commercialization efforts. The research hurdles remain high, but momentum clearly favors the researchers.
Psychedelics also have implications beyond their clinical relevance: they may help researchers better understand consciousness and the human brain. Additionally, their regulation highlights many shortcomings of current U.S. health care and public health policy. For instance, their restricted status makes psychedelics difficult to study, and their commercialization by large firms highlights key concerns with pharmaceutical development, drug enforcement policy, research ethics, and intellectual property law.
In the following interview, which has been edited and condensed, Harris Bricken attorney Mason Marks, MD, discusses POPLAR with Flom Center Communications Associate Chloe Reichel. Dr.