There was an interesting story that came out of the UK this week regarding Dr Alexander Shulgin, the scientist who reintroduced ecstasy to the world in the 1970s. He spoke at a conference and expressed his concern about the way the drug was now being used and how this could affect the possibility of the drug being used to treat the mentally ill.

Its very excellent potential for being used as medicine has been badly jeopardised, Alexander Shulgin told Reuters after defending the merits of mind-altering drugs at a symposium on the human brain at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology this week.

Shulgin, a psychopharmacological researcher who once had a licence from the US government to develop any illegal drug, believes so strongly in the power of psychedelic drugs in unlocking the human mind that he plans to publish a 1,500-page encyclopedia next year of all his creations. The 80-year-old former lecturer at the University of California at Berkeley, who self-tested many of his experiments and admits to more than 4,000 psychedelic experiences, reportedly finds little comfort in ecstasy’s image as the drug of choice at all-night nightclub dance parties or raves.

I was fortunate enough to meet Shulgin a number of years ago at an American conference examining ecstasy use. He was a great speaker and he and his wife Ann (one of the original psychotherapists who used MDMA in therapy sessions) were fascinating people with amazing stories to tell. Back then he was saying very similar things about the use of ecstasy on the dance scene -“ not really understanding why the drug would be used in the dance context. It is interesting to see that he has come out at this time and made a similar statement.

The area of the therapeutic use of MDMA is a hot topic at the moment. Ecstasy was used in its early days as a treatment for depression and other illnesses, but that ended abruptly in 1986 when it was banned by the US Drug Enforcement Agency. Recently, however, the drug has had a modest comeback in clinical therapy. US authorities gave researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina permission last year to use MDMA in a small study of patients suffering post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Adding to that, researchers at Duke University in North Carolina recently found that amphetamines, including ecstasy, reversed the effects of Parkinson’s disease in mice, raising the possibility of exploring related treatments for human beings.

It really is a time where people should watch this space and see what develops next. There do appear to be therapeutic benefits associated with MDMA when used appropriately and it’ll be interesting to see whether our governments let us look into this possibility any further.

Remember: if you do not want any negative consequences, do not use the drug and, no matter how many times you have used a substance, never be blas?/p>

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