Swiss Psychedelic Usage Halted – Resumption Possible But Not Certain

MAPS Bulletin Autumn 1990 Vol. 1, No. 3

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Early this summer, a very tragic, unfortunate, incident resulted in the temporary withdrawal of official permission for the medical use of LSD and MDMA.

At the present time, all use of LSD and MDMA in Switzerland has been stopped. There is currently nowhere in the world where LSD and MDMA are legally available to psychiatrists for the treatment of patients. Use will resume about November 1.

One of the Swiss psychiatrists led a psychotherapy group in France using psychedelics. Instead of LSD or MDMA, one patient received ibogaine, a drug derived from an African root which has been used to assist psychotherapy for many years and has recently been reported to be effective in the treatment of addictive disorders. Ibogaine produces vomiting in most people who take it and has not found a wide use. For reasons which are still uncertain, the person who tried the ibogaine experienced medical complications and died. An explanation for what occurred awaits autopsy results. In the psychedelic literature, deaths from ibogaine have not previously been reported.

As a precaution, the Swiss Health Authorities decided to halt all medical use of all psychedelics pending receipt of the autopsy report. The psychiatrist is facing legal complications and a patient is dead. Since the autopsy indicated that neither MDMA or LSD was involved, the Swiss authorities have decided to allow the Swiss psychiatrists permission to resume their work with MDMA and LSD, which have an excellent safety record and have demonstrated therapeutic efficacy. One new condition is being insisted upon by the Swiss authorities. Future use must be part of a research protocol, excellent news for those of us interested in psychedelic psychotherapy research.