Scientists Decry Worst Case of Censorship Since Galileo

... and it involves magic mushrooms

By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff

Posted Jun 13, 2013 9:25 AM CDT

(Newser) – It's the kind of claim that makes your ears perk up: A group of scientists yesterday came out swinging against what one described as "the worst case of scientific censorship since the Catholic Church banned the works of Copernicus and Galileo." More colorful still, it involves magic mushrooms. The researchers took to Nature Reviews Neuroscience to argue that 1960s and 1970s drug laws curtailed vital research into the medicinal properties of psychoactive drugs (marijuana, ecstasy, and psychedelics, explains LiveScience). And that, they say, is scientific censorship.

Among the scientists clamoring for "a more rational approach to drug regulation" is David Nutt, a colorful former British drug adviser who has previously argued that alcohol is worse than heroin and cocaine caused the financial crisis. He tells the Independent, "The laws scare off funders and most scientists are scared because they think if they break the law, they might get arrested. I'm sure at some point someone's going to arrest me." Reuters reports that the scientists are asking that psychoactive drugs be granted a research exemption. Doing so would allow "researchers to make advances in the study of consciousness and brain mechanisms of psychosis, and could lead to major treatment innovations in areas such as depression and PTSD," says Nutt.

This undated file image shows an etching of astronomer Galileo Galilei.
This undated file image shows an etching of astronomer Galileo Galilei.   (AP Photo, File)
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