Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) announced last week it was making the psychedelic substances psilocybin and MDMA legal for medicinal purposes starting July 1, 2023.
Psilocybin and MDMA were each approved for medical use by the TGA “in combination with psychotherapy for treatment-resistant mental illness in medically controlled environments in certain circumstances,” the agency said in its announcement. The surprise move marked the world’s first federal action to legalize medicinal psychedelics and follows months of public input — currently, the drugs are considered “prohibited substances” in Australia and are only available in controlled clinical trials.
Under the new rules, psychiatrists will be able to prescribe MDMA (commonly known as ecstasy or Molly) for post-traumatic stress syndrome, and psilocybin for depression. Before prescribing the psychedelics, however, the psychiatrists will need approval from both a human ethics committee and under the Authorised Prescriber Scheme, the agency said in a press release.
TGA also warned that because “patients may be vulnerable during psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy,” the program would require “controls to protect these patients.” Additionally, as there are not currently any Australia-based medications containing MDMA or psilocybin, participating psychiatrists will need to import the substances.
TGA said in the announcement that its decision had been influenced both by research into psychedelics for treatment-resistant conditions as well as thousands of public comments submitted in favor of psychedelics therapy.
Australia approved the medical use of cannabis in 2016 but stopped short of adult-use cannabis legalization. (Full Story)