MAPS Policy and Advocacy Director Natalie Lyla Ginsberg, M.S.W., and Policy and Advocacy Counsel Ismail Ali, J.D., participated in their first virtual public speaking engagements of the year in the first week of January to discuss therapeutic applications of psychedelics and the implications for existing drug policy approaches. Ali joined a panel for The Clarity Project, a citizen’s initiative group seeking to create patient access to psilocybin in Hawaii, and presented a Psychedelic Renaissance Talk Story. Ginsberg joined a panel for the event Drug Policy: From Illegal to Medical organized by The Psychedelic Society in the United Kingdom. Member of Parliament Crispin Blunt was also a panelist — Blunt has served as Minister for Prisons, Probation and Youth Justice and is the first Conservative to Co-chair the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Drug Policy Reform.
Ginsberg and Ali also contributed to an article published in a special edition of ACS Pharmacology and Translational Science on psychedelics. Entitled “Ethical Concerns about Psilocybin Intellectual Property,” the article presents to readers the overlay of one modern intellectual property instrument, the patent, onto pre-existing practices with naturally occurring psilocybin, and characterizes the manner in which patents related to psilocybin have been pursued in this context as often a “story of extraction, cultural appropriation, bioprospecting, and colonization” in tension with series of international treaties and conventions for the protection of indigenous people and traditional knowledge and culture. As presented, this circumstance, then, begs questions about how economic rewards and legal protections ought to be distributed amongst relevant parties (e.g. communities who have stewarded traditional practices with naturally occurring psilocybin for generations, and researchers and others who have taken advantage of legal and commercial protections of patents for manipulations and modern applications of the substance).