By Chloe Reichel
On June 30th, the Petrie-Flom Center announced the launch of a three-year research initiative, the Project on Psychedelics Law and Regulation (POPLAR), which is supported by a generous grant from the Saisei Foundation.
The Project on Psychedelics Law and Regulation at the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics at Harvard Law School will advance evidence-based psychedelics law and policy.
In 2017, the FDA designated MDMA a breakthrough therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder, and in 2018 the agency recognized psilocybin as a breakthrough therapy for treatment-resistant depression. These designations indicate that psychedelics may represent substantial improvements over existing treatments for mental health conditions. Many other psychedelics, including ibogaine, ketamine, and dimethyltryptamine, are the focus of ongoing psychiatric research and commercialization efforts.
Despite the proliferation of clinical research centers and increasing private investment in psychedelic drug development, there is a relative lack of research on the ethical, legal, and social implications of psychedelics research, commerce, and therapeutics.
In the following interview, which has been edited and condensed, Senior Fellow and POPLAR Project Lead Mason Marks explains how POPLAR will fill this gap, and previews some of the initiative’s topics of inquiry.