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October 14, 2009

Drug policy FAIL: LSD for cluster headaches

Newsweek has an interesting feature on LSD as an experimental therapy for cluster headaches. Cluster headaches are excruciatingly painful and often resistant to existing treatments. Anecdotal reports suggest that LSD can help sufferers.

Unfortunately, US drug laws preclude clinical trials. LSD is a so-called Schedule 1 drug, which means that the Drug Enforcement Agency has decreed a priori that it has no medical application.

The DEA is a law enforcement agency dedicated to drug prohibition. It has neither the expertise nor the inclination to evaluate the medical potential of controlled substances dispassionately. What if the DEA is wrong about the medical value of LSD? We'll never find out because it's illegal to do research on Schedule 1 drugs.

Update: In theory it's possible to apply for waivers to study Schedule 1 drugs, but according to Newsweek, "[t]hese drugs are so restricted by the DEA that researchers at the country's top universities find it almost impossible to get the permission and funding necessary to study the substances in humans." Legal clearance for a large scale clinical trial is inconceivable in the current climate. 


Are you sure research on Schedule 1 drugs is illegal? I believe researchers can apply for special licenses which allow it. (And, of course, the fact that a drug is illegal in the United States does not prevent research from being done elsewhere, so even if all research on schedule 1 drugs were prohibited under U.S. law, it wouldn't necessarily be the case that "we'll never find out" if LSD has medical value.)

parse said... "Are you sure research on Schedule 1 drugs is illegal? I believe researchers can apply for special licenses which allow it."

From what I understand, you can apply, but, strangely, it's very difficult to get government approvals.

Right. You can apply, but you will find gaining approval extremely expensive and time consuming, if possible at all. Google "maps marijuana lawsuit" for an example.

From what I understand, you can apply, but, strangely, it's very difficult to get government approvals.

But Obama is president now. Yes, we can!

Parse is correct that there is a waiver program, but in practice it's all but impossible to test Schedule 1 drugs on humans. It's ironic that it's easier to get clearance to test methamphetamine on people than it is to get approval to test LSD.

There is a remarkable study of MDMA (Ecstasy) in the treatment of treatment-resistant Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (article here:, and part of the story is the high regulatory hill the researchers have had to climb to get the study going. Of course, as a veteran with friends who suffer from PTSD, I'm all for anything that works. My only worry is that the stupid war on drugs will keep sufferers from getting the help they need or, heaven forfend, go out on the street and take whatever they're calling X these days in an attempt to heal themselves.

Systemic Dysfunction is designated Conspiracy Theory these days. I'm becoming more and more inclined to view that as an excellent summation : if using 'Theory' in the scientific sense as operating description for real world events.
Running Search parameters of Drugs and CIA may result in startling commentaries.

Come to think : narrow that by including corruption of crime.

Trials of S1 drugs are approved (e.g. cannabis) but, as I understand, rarely to measure efficacy in treating some affliction. Most are restricted to measuring harms of the drug or the efficacy of other drugs in treating dependence. Cannabis, MDMA, and LSD would be removed from Schedule I if drug policies were based on science.

MDMA research is happening at Harvard's McLean Hospital... if you have cancer, it is a therapy trial. It is definitely possible to get permission to do research with Schedule I drugs like MDMA and LSD...

I have Clusterheadache and psychedelics have saved my life! Alternatives to LSD work aswell: Shrooms ( psylocibe ) , Hawaian Baby Woodrose seeds ( LSA ) and ofcourse Ayahuasca ( DMT ) which you can legally take in the USA attending ceremony of the Santo Daime Church. Psychedelics taken for the right reason and under the right circumstances are MEDICINE and not addictive! The DEA should allow ALL drugs for doctors prescribtion to be in the pharmacies not in the streets where this ridiculous " war on drugs " is putting them! If you suffer Clusterheadaches,help yourself and go to : . Also please join MAPS Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies. STOP PEOPLE FROM KILLING THEMSELVES, HELP DOCTORS LEGALLY USE THE RIGHT MEDICINES.. THANK YOU.

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