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University of Bath MSc Health Psychology graduate. Stakeholder Engagement Officer at Volteface. Interested in addiction and drug reform.

This piece was originally published for Volteface.

There is no doubt that psychedelics hold incredible healing potential to treat mental illnesses. Their ability is so great, claims circulate that they can ‘cure’ conditions, a term almost unheard of in psychiatry.

The psychedelic movement has highlighted the vast benefits of these currently controlled substances, helping to liberalise and destigmatise them. It has particularly focused on the benefits of alternative treatment methods.

But has this come at the price of reinforcing stigma toward non-psychedelic drugs such as opioids?

Highlighting the treatment potential of psychedelics is important, but we shouldn’t be trading in…

This piece was originally written for Volteface

Drug policy is a complex sphere to navigate for a whole host of reasons. The most important and difficult being that drug use is perceived to be a moral issue.

It is obvious that policies based on morals rather than science are inherently problematic as biases and emotional reasoning cloud our ability to think rationally.

We can argue all day that a moralistic approach to drug policy is wrong, but that on its own will achieve nothing. …

This piece was originally written for Volteface

New York has officially legalised adult-use cannabis, becoming the 16th state in the USA to do so. It is predicted to be the largest market on the East Coast generating $2.5 billion in annual sales by its fourth year and approximately $300 million collected in tax revenue.

New Yorkers can now possess up to 3 ounces of cannabis. The bill also immediately allows for cannabis consumption in public places, except for workplaces, universities, schools and hospitals.

The state is to begin expunging criminal records of past cannabis related convictions. The existing medical cannabis…

This piece was originally published for Volteface

Industrial hemp is an incredibly sustainable and versatile crop that is able to produce a range of products. These include: textile, paper, ropes, insulation material, fibre boards, bioplastics, compost, animal bedding, fuel, paint, feed, food, dietary supplements, cosmetics and medicinal preparations.

The crop also possesses a range of environmental benefits. So, what are they?

Hemp grows easily in a wide range of climates with few resources. It is also naturally resistant to most insects and kills weeds without chemicals. This means fertilisers aren’t needed as the crop grows densely and regenerates quickly.


Image by Sergei Tokmakov, Esq. from Pixabay

This piece was originally published for Volteface

Psychedelics are making a comeback. We’ve recently witnessed a wave of re-emerging interest and research into psychedelic drugs. This has undoubtedly been a beneficial force for breaking down stigma, whilst highlighting the incredible potential psychedelics have for healing deep-rooted trauma.

However, a narrative that isn’t addressed nearly enough is that our psychedelic research perpetuates discrimination. We’ve still got work to do.

Researchers and clinicians in the field have a duty to ensure that systematic patterns of oppression and discrimination are not reproduced in the psychedelic field. Sadly, research as it currently stands lacks…

This piece was originally published for Volteface.

Our understanding of how psychoactive substances affect us has been largely based on researching their intoxicating effects. But what about the after effects? I’m talking about the comedowns, the hangovers, the withdrawals. This might be a more important research focus, to better understand the nature of addiction and what drives individuals to use substances problematically.

We need to talk about comedowns.

Our knowledge of the intoxicating effects drugs have is pretty thorough. We know what most recreational drugs do to our brain, how substances stimulate, depress and interact with various neurotransmitters. Although there…

This piece was originally published for Volteface.

Oftentimes we are keen to distinguish between medical and recreational cannabis use. But does this distinction do more harm than good for advancing recreational reform?

Many assume that this distinction is an important one, but is it?

By no means should the medicinal properties that cannabis possesses for treating a range of health conditions must not be undervalued.

However, are we paying enough attention to ‘recreational’ reform? Is the use of the word ‘recreational’ perhaps undervaluing its importance?

Recently, medical cannabis reform has dominated the advocacy space, driving the conversation forward. This has been incredible in terms of the positive progress we are making. We see this with symbolic advancement with time UN decision last week.

Although this…

Fear, uncertainty, loneliness — increased psychological problems are a clear consequence of this pandemic. Could mind-expanding drugs be a possible treatment?

Photo by Sharm Murugiah

Psymposia’s recent article highlighted “changing society is much more complicated than changing our minds”.The extraordinary impact of COVID-19 across all facets of society requires interdisciplinary action as we are likely experiencing the greatest mental health obstacle of our time. Unpredictability, uncertainty, misinformation and social isolation are adding to the melting pot of this global mental health crisis.

In particular, COVID-19 has disproportionately affected vulnerable individuals, highlighting existing health inequalities and leading to various maladaptive psychological responses. Due to this, vulnerable populations need to be supported in order to reduce the adverse psychological impact.

Could psychedelics be a plausible solution to the consequences of COVID-19?

Growing psychiatric evidence shows LSD and psilocybin…

Microdosing may improve productivity, creativity and mood, but what does the evidence say?

Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay

This piece was originally published for Volteface.

Microdosing has become a focal point for improving mood and daily functioning. Interest in this field is mounting with a 290% increase in videos relating to microdosing released on Youtube between 2016 and 2018.

Anecdotal evidence suggests psychedelic microdoses may improve productivity, creativity and mood. Where does the evidence sit? What are people’s experiences of microdosing? And what do we still not know?

Microdosing is a low dose below the perceptual threshold which does not impair the functioning of an individual, taken with the intention to improve wellbeing or cognition.

Many researchers have…

This piece was originally written for Volteface.

Yesterday, history was made with the UN reclassifying cannabis. This removes cannabis from the list of most dangerous narcotics, recognising its medical value.

The decision was voted on by the Commission for Narcotic Drugs. A series of recommendations on reclassifying cannabis were considered, the key being the removal of it from Schedule IV of 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. The five remaining recommendations were turned down.

The reclassification passed 27 to 25 with one abstention — so, a narrow win. The US and many European countries were in favour. Whereas countries such as China, Egypt, Nigeria, Pakistan and Russia voted against.

This decision will undoubtedly advance the expansion of medical cannabis research and bolster legalisation…

Katya Kowalski

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