Today marks the launch of the International Therapeutic Psilocybin Rescheduling Initiative (ITPRI), a global coalition working to promote and secure a rescheduling of psilocybin under the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances. Psilocybin is the active constituent in what are commonly known as ‘magic mushrooms’, a naturally occurring chemical compound that is increasingly seen as highly safe and effective in treating many forms of mental illness and substance use disorder.
In most countries, legal control of psilocybin results from its Schedule I status under the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances. Meant for dangerous drugs which create an especially serious risk to public health and whose therapeutic value is little to none, Schedule I drugs are subject to strict limits on their scientific and medical use. Schedule I licensing, safe-custody, security, manufacturing, quantity, and import/export restrictions result in a level of regulatory control and oversight that is drastically more onerous than for the Convention’s other three schedules. As a result, researchers wishing to study psilocybin face numerous regulatory hurdles which add significantly to the cost, complexity, and duration of research and can negatively impact ethical approvals, funding and collaboration.
According to Professor David Nutt, head of Imperial College London’s Centre for Psychedelic Research and Founder of ITPRI partner Drug Science, “Psilocybin’s Schedule I status has severely limited – and continues to limit – neuroscience research and the development of treatments for patients.”
Psilocybin is one of several psychedelic compounds that have shown remarkable promise for the treatment of a range of mental health conditions, including treatment resistant depression, major depressive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, end-life-psychological distress and substance use disorder.
The evidentiary basis for including psilocybin in Schedule I remains unclear but appears to have been based largely on political considerations and a mistaken presumption that these drugs offered no medical benefit and posed a high risk of non-medical use and dependence.
Basing its objectives on research from a number of leading universities and institutes, and with the ultimate goal of accelerating research and fostering the availability of psilocybin-assisted therapies for those suffering from mental illness and substance use disorder, ITRPI will pursue a change to psilocybin’s current Schedule I status.
Christopher Koddermann, ITPRI Co-founder and Chair of the Board of Directors, says “Given today’s scientific understanding of psilocybin’s high potential therapeutic value and low risk of dependence, a change of its status as a Schedule I drug is long overdue.”
“Rescheduling procedures under the 1971 Convention offer a potentially game-changing opportunity to advance further research and accelerate the approval of treatments for patients”, says Willem Scholten, ITPRI Advisory Board member and former Secretary to the WHO Expert Committee on Drug Dependence, the body responsible for international drug control scheduling recommendations.
Founded in 2021 as a civil society, not-for-profit association under Articles 60 et seq. of the Swiss Civil Code, the International Therapeutic Psilocybin Rescheduling Initiative brings together an international coalition of leading psychedelic therapy advocacy and research organizations to promote and secure a rescheduling of psilocybin under the 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances. Partner organizations in this effort are the Beckley Foundation, Drug Science, the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), Mind Medicine Australia, Nierika AC, the Open Foundation and the Osmond Foundation. Utilizing rescheduling procedures available under the 1971 Convention, ITPRI will engage signatory governments to the treaty, the WHO and other international institutions to secure a review of and change to psilocybin’s Schedule I status.
Joost Breeksema, Co-founder & Executive Director, Open Foundation
Rick Doblin, Founder & Executive Director, MAPS
Clara Burtenshaw, Partner, Neo Kuma Ventures
Amanda Feilding, Founder & Executive Director, The Beckley Foundation
Scott Leckie, International Human Rights lawyer
Armando Loizaga, Co-founder, Nierika AC
Joanna Neill, Professor of Psychopharmacology, University of Manchester
Willem Scholten, former Secretary to the WHO Expert Committee on Drug Dependence
Jan Van Amsterdam, Senior Scientific Researcher, Department of Psychiatry, Amsterdam UMC
Christopher Koddermann, Co-founder and Chair of the Board of Directors
Christopher Koddermann is a Swiss-based government affairs, public policy and communications specialist with extensive experience advising clients operating in complex, highly regulated, multi-stakeholder industries. With over 20 years’ experience in politics and public affairs, Christopher has advised and represented clients on a broad range of national and global regulatory issues, including in relation to WHO proceedings. Prior to launching his public affairs business, Koddermann Public Affairs, in 2018, Christopher held senior global government affairs and communications leadership roles in the corporate sector. A lawyer by training, he spent the early part of his career working as a political and policy advisor to various Canadian federal and provincial cabinet Ministers.
Dr. Thomas Borer, Co-founder and Deputy-chair of the Board of Directors
As a former Swiss Ambassador to the Federal Republic of Germany and Head of the “Switzerland – Second World War Task Force” dealing with the role of Switzerland as a financial centre during the time of the Nazi regime, Dr. Borer has extensive experience in international diplomacy. Based on this experience, Dr. Borer advises clients across a broad range of global regulatory issues, particularly those affecting the consumer goods industries. Dr. Borer has represented and advocated on behalf of clients before national governments, as well as intergovernmental and UN organizations, including the WHO and ILO. As a result, he and his firm, Dr. Borer Consulting, have developed a broad network of contacts strongly rooted in international policy and business.