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DEA Shifts Perspective on Psychedelics

Psychedelic Research - A Tipping Point

We all remember the DEA, don’t we? Not exactly the friendliest when it comes to parties. But on July 22, 2022, something peculiar happened. They dropped their proposal from January of that year to classify five tryptamine-class psychedelics – 4-OH-DiPT, 5-MeO-AMT, 5-MeO-MiPT, 5-MeO-DET, and DiPT – under the most restrictive category, Schedule I.

The recommendation for this rule was originally made in 2012 by the US Department of Health and Human Services, based on small-scale misuse and similarities to existing hallucinogens as enough evidence for its classification. Even with the DEA acknowledging the need for a more recent "scientific and medical evaluation", this unexpected reversal may suggest a shift in the perspective towards psychedelic research.

A lot is happening around this issue, so let's sort it out.

Why the DEA Shifted on Psychedelics

This shift seems to be a response to an outpouring of public comments and hearing requests from scientists and pharmaceutical companies. The original rule was based on a 2012 recommendation, citing small-scale abuse and similarity to existing hallucinogens as the reason for the harsh classification. This drew quite a backlash, making the DEA do a double-take.

Psychedelics - Not Just for Parties Anymore

Over the last ten years, the potential of psychedelics for treating mental health disorders has gained recognition. From being used recreationally and having millions search the web for "are magic mushrooms harmful?" to being investigated for their therapeutic benefits, these mushrooms have come a long way.

As recognition of their legitimacy grows, the FDA has granted 'breakthrough therapy designation' to psilocybin and MDMA for resistant depression and PTSD, respectively. This, coupled with increasing interest from various therapeutics companies, has led to an estimated market value of over $8 billion for psychedelics by 2028. As such, the field has drawn interest from both public and private institutions.

New Players in Psychedelic Therapy

With increased funding pouring into research and patenting, institutions, such as Compass Pathways, are moving beyond 'classical psychedelics' – like psilocybin, MDMA, and mescaline – to study similar but novel compounds. These synthetic substances further explore the tryptamine and phenethylamine cores found in psilocybin and MDMA, aiming to develop drugs with better properties.

Compass Pathways' partnership with Jason Wallach, Ph.D., and St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia in 2020 to create the Discovery Center serves as a perfect example. This venture has led to the creation of around 150 novel psychedelic substances intended for use in mental health treatments, many of which Compass might potentially patent and sell, similar to many other institutions with the same objectives.

Concerns over Future Regulation

The fear within the scientific community is that the classification of more compounds as schedule I could impose stringent restrictions on who can research them and how, due to the stringent rules associated with such a classification.

Federal law typically bans the government from funding research on schedule I substances and mandates registration and DEA approval to work with these substances. Under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, a schedule I drug is defined as one having "no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse".

The potential threat is that, since 2020, nearly 80 different substances have been classified as schedule I, and it does not require much evidence to attain this classification, as the January 14 rule showed.

Pushback from Psychedelic Industry

Therefore, it's not surprising that entities in the psychedelic industry are against regulations that could hinder the production and sale of psychoactive substances, the recently withdrawn DEA rule being a prime example. Notable companies, such as Tactogen and Mindstate Labs, have voiced their concerns directly and were involved in the DEA's decision to withdraw the rule. They were ready to challenge the new rule, predicting it could hamper research and development, especially for substances like DiPT.

While the DEA is known for strict regulations, this unexpected change could suggest a willingness to consider psychedelics as legitimate pharmaceuticals. Indeed, the acting DEA Administrator in 2018 stated, "We are committed to finding new and innovative ways to meet the needs of the research community".

This ongoing tension between government regulatory bodies and the pharmaceutical industry underscores the importance of better dialogue and clarification of objectives. The drug research landscape is rapidly evolving, and while there's much to be done, this event signifies a step in the right direction towards open research, access to information, and scientific advancement.


In a world where mental health is a growing concern, the potential for innovative treatments is not just exciting—it's necessary. With shifts in how institutions view substances like psychedelics, we stand on the brink of a promising horizon. It's an unpredictable journey, but like any great story, the twists and turns are what make it worth the ride.

As we continue to follow the evolution of psychedelic research, one thing is clear: change is not just on the horizon, it's here. Will we see more psychedelics make their way into the therapist's toolbox? Only time will tell.

Stay curious, stay open-minded, and stay informed. These are exciting times, and the more we learn, the better equipped we'll be to navigate the future of mental health treatments.

Before you go, don't forget to subscribe to our newsletter! Join a community of forward-thinking individuals keen on being at the forefront of cutting-edge research and discussions in the field of psychedelics. Stay updated with the latest news, research breakthroughs, and expert insights.

Because when it comes to the future of mental health, every trip—pun intended—begins with a single step towards understanding.


FAQ: A Deeper Dive into Psychedelic Research

What are the five substances the DEA considered scheduling?

The five substances are all from the tryptamine class, and they include: 4-OH-DiPT, 5-MeO-AMT, 5-MeO-MiPT, 5-MeO-DET, and DiPT.

What are Schedule I-IV drugs and what do the classifications mean?

Why are psychedelic substances being considered for mental health treatments?

What is the 'breakthrough therapy designation' by the FDA?

How does the Schedule I classification affect research?

What's the potential market value for psychedelic therapies?

What are some key companies in the field of psychedelic research?


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