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|Motto||Exploring Consciousness, Pioneering Research, Changing Minds|
|Type||Ecosoc Accredited NGO|
|Legal status||Charitable Trust|
|Purpose||Drug policy reform and scientific research|
Director and Founder
The Beckley Foundation is a UK-based think-tank and UN-accredited NGO, dedicated to activating global drug policy reform and initiating scientific research into psychoactive substances. The Foundation is a charitable trust which collaborates with leading scientific and political institutions worldwide to design and develop ground-breaking research and global policy initiatives. It also investigates consciousness and its modulation from a multidisciplinary perspective, working in collaboration with scientists. The Foundation is based at Beckley Park near Oxford, United Kingdom. It was founded in 1998, and is directed by Amanda Feilding, Countess of Wemyss.
- 1 Background
- 2 Policy
- 3 Science
- 4 Latest Findings from the Beckley Foundation Scientific Programme
- 5 Ongoing Projects Include
- 6 Beckley Foundation Press Publications
- 7 Major Seminars
- 8 External links
- 9 See also
- 10 References
The Beckley Foundation Scientific Programme initiates, designs and conducts research into the effects of psychoactive substances on the brain, in order to minimise their potential harms, learn more about consciousness and brain function, and discover and explore their therapeutic potential. Recent research includes collaborations with Dr Jordi Riba at Sant Pau Hospital on ayahuasca, Professor David Nutt at Imperial College on the effects of psychedelics on cerebral blood flow, Professor Valerie Curran at University College London on the effects of cannabis on the brain with a view to possible therapeutic applications and with Professor Roland Griffiths at Johns Hopkins University studying the effects of psilocybin in combating addiction.
The Beckley Foundation Policy Programme is dedicated to improving national and global drug policies, through research that increases understanding of the health, social and fiscal implications of drug policy, and the development of new evidence-based and rational approaches. It brings together country representatives, science and policy experts at international seminars in order to discuss alternative drug policy, and commissions and disseminates reports to open up and facilitate debate among policy-makers and the public.
Roadmaps to Regulation: New Psychoactive Substances 2016
To coincide with the introduction of the UK’s Psychoactive Substances Act 2016 on 26 May 2016, Amanda Feilding released the report, “Roadmaps to Regulation: New Psychoactive Substances.” The document surveys the complex and unique world of NPS production and distribution and suggests a harm reductive model for the legal regulation of this vast array of substances. The NPS report is part of wider family of forthcoming reports, “Roadmaps to Regulation: Cannabis, Psychedelics, MDMA and NPS“.
Public Letter 2016
Recognizing the clear need for the nations and countries of the United Nations to design their own drug policies, tailored to mitigating their individual experiences of the ‘War on Drugs,’ Amanda Feilding attended the 2016 UN General Assembly Special Session on drugs and hosted an official side event at the UN Headquarters in New York. The event marked the launch of the Beckley Foundation’s 2016 Public Letter, “Out of UNGASS: A New Approach” which calls for the abandonment of the 1961 Drug Convention, and for every country to be allowed to implement drug policies that are cost-effective, harm-reductive and respect human rights.
Jamaica's Regulated Cannabis Industry: First Steps 2015
In Spring 2015, Amanda Feilding and the Beckley Foundation were invited by Mark Golding, then the Jamaican Minister of Justice, to advise the government on the formation of a balanced policy in the regulation of the cannabis industry in Jamaica, and to provide feedback on global drug policy issues as Jamaica moved towards the creation of a successfully-regulated cannabis industry. The two-day conference brought together academics, government officials, growers, Rastafari and healthcare professionals. The outcome of these discussions was fed into the process for the 2016 UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on global drug policy.
Beckley Foundation Guatemala 2012–13
On 3 July 2012 Beckley Foundation Guatemala was launched after the organisation had been asked to convene an international Board of Experts to write reports which would:
- analyse the impact of the current drug prohibitionist policies;
- propose a sophisticated range of alternative policy solutions for Guatemala.
The alternative drug policy solutions were presented to President Otto Pérez Molina by Amanda Feilding in January 2013 in this 'Paths for Reform' report. The suggestions include a proposal to investigate legalising the illicit opium poppy crop in order to produce pain-relieving medications for the Guatemalan people, a initiative that has been mentioned by President Pérez Molina during Davos 2013 and other official appearances
Public Letter 2011
In 2011 an open letter from the Foundation was published in The Times and The Guardian calling for a new approach to drug policy. The letter opened by emphatically stating that the war on drugs has failed and calling for a new approach. Signatories of the letter now include the current Presidents of Colombia (Juan Manuel Santos) and Guatemala (Otto Pérez Molina), and former Presidents of the United States (Jimmy Carter), Mexico, Colombia and Switzerland, as well as Nobel Prize winners and numerous other world figures.
Global Initiative for Drug Policy Reform 2011–12
The Global Initiative is a collaboration between the All Party Parliamentary Group on Drug Policy, the Global Commission on Drug Policy and the Beckley Foundation. It was held at the House of Lords in November 2011, bringing together representatives from countries interested in reform, and countries that have successfully implemented alternative drug policies, along with the Global Commission on Drug Policy.
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The Beckley Foundation is one of the few organisations in the world initiating, supporting, and directing scientific research investigating the effects of currently-controlled psychoactive substances. This ground-breaking research explores how substances such as cannabis, psychedelics, and MDMA act upon the human brain, using the latest developments in neuroscience and brain imaging technology. The purpose of the research is to increase our scientific understanding of consciousness itself, and to explore new avenues for the treatment of illnesses and the betterment of humankind. Over the last 18 years, the Programme has produced dozens of scientific articles published in influential peer-reviewed journals, and Amanda Feilding has spearheaded numerous collaborations. Collaborating partners include leading institutions such as Imperial College London, Sant Pau Hospital, University College London, King’s College London, and Johns Hopkins University, and topics have covered:
- changes in brain structure, function, and blood supply in response to cannabis, LSD, psilocybin, ayahuasca/DMT, and MDMA;
- LSD, psilocybin, and MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for conditions such as depression, anxiety, addiction, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD);
- cannabis and cannabinoids in the treatment of brain cancer;
- LSD in the treatment of cluster headaches; and
- cerebral circulation, cranial compliance, and their relationship to age-related cognitive decline.
Latest Findings from the Beckley Foundation Scientific Programme
Ayahuasca and Neurogenesis 2016
A preliminary study conducted within the framework of the Beckley-Sant Pau Research Programme and in collaboration with the Spanish National Research Council found that harmine and tetrahydroharmine, the alkaloids present in highest amounts in ayahuasca, have potent neurogenic properties (the ability to create new brain cells). The addition of harmine and tetrahydroharmine to cultures containing neural stem cells dramatically increased their differentiation and maturation into neurons.
Psilocybin for Depression 2016
Based on the Beckley/Imperial Research Programme's psilocybin study brain imaging results, in 2012, the Medical Research Council awarded funding to the programme for a clinical study investigating psilocybin in the treatment of depression. Results from the study, published in the Lancet Psychiatry Journal, showed that two doses of psilocybin lifted depression in all 12 volunteers for three weeks, and kept five of them depression free for three months. The size of the study and the absence of a placebo make the research proof of principle only, but the remarkably positive results highlight the need for continued research in this promising area of psychiatry – psychedelic-assisted therapy. Amanda Feilding and the Beckley Foundation are currently trying to secure funding to expand this research and further evaluate the potential of psilocybin as a treatment for depression.
LSD Revealed 2016
On 13 April 2016, the Beckley/Imperial Research Programme released the world’s first images of the human brain on LSD, collected as part of the first ever brain imaging study to examine the effects of LSD on the human brain. Programme co-directors Amanda Feilding and David Nutt, together with lead-investigator Robin Cathart-Harris, held a press conference at the Royal Society on 11 April 2016 to herald the publication of the paper.
Ongoing Projects Include
- The Beckley Foundation/Imperial College London Psychedelic Research Programme, investigating the effects of psilocybin and other psychedelic drugs on cerebral blood flow, and linking this with cognitive effects (for example, improved episodic memory recall and increased vividness of subjective experience under the influence of psilocybin).
- The Beckley Foundation Ethnobotanical Research Programme, investigating the effects and potential benefits of Ayahuasca and DMT, including a study involving ketanserin on evaluating the effects of glutamate release by DMT, a study investigating the association between brain plasticity and Ayahuasca, and a long-term study investigating the effect of Ayahuasca on personal development and health.
- A Beckley Foundation/Johns Hopkins University collaboration investigating the potential use of psychedelic drugs to treat addiction. A pilot study is underway using psilocybin to treat nicotine addiction.
- A Beckley Foundation/King's College London collaboration with Dr Paul Morrison at the Institute of Psychiatry is investigating the differing effects of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), two of the main cannabinoids found in cannabis that determine its subjective and cognitive effects. Cannabidiol is showing promise in inhibiting the psychosis-like effects of THC, and indicating great therapeutic potential.
- A Beckley Foundation/University College London collaboration with Professor Valerie Curran is investigating medicinal uses of cannabis (in tandem with Harborside Health Centre in Oakland), as well as various research projects looking at the effects of cannabis on various cognitive or neural measures.
Recent Scientific Journal Publications:
- Finding the Self by Losing the Self: Neural Correlates of Ego-Dissolution Under Psilocybin (A. V. Lebedev, M. Loevden, G. Rosenthal, A. Feilding, D. J. Nutt and R. L. Carhart-Harris, Human Brain Mapping, 22 May 2015)
- LSD enhances suggestibility in healthy volunteers (R. L. Carhart-Harris, M. Kaelen, M. G. Whalley, M. Bolstridge, A. Feilding and D. J. Nutt, Journal of Psychopharmacology, 23 September 2014)
- The entropic brain: a theory of conscious states informed by neuroimaging research with psychedelic drugs. (R. L. Carhart-Harris, R. Leech, P. J. Hellyer, M. Shanahan, A. Feilding, E. Tagliazucchi, D. R. Chialvo and D. J. Nutt, Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 3 February 2014)
- The effect of acutely administered MDMA on subjective and BOLD-fMRI responses to favourite and worst autobiographical memories (R. L. Carhart-Harris, M. B. Wall, D. Erritzoe, M. Kaelen, B. Ferguson, I. De Meer, M. Tanner, M. Bloomfield, T. M. Williams, M. Bolstridge, L. Stewart, C. J. Morgan, R. D. Newbould, A. Feilding, H. V. Curran and D. J. Nutt, The International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology, 17 December 2013)
- Broadband cortical desynchronization underlies the human psychedelic state(S. D. Muthukumaraswamy, R. L. Carhart-Harris, R. J. Moran, M. J. Brookes, T. M. Williams, D. Errtizoe, B. Sessa, A. Papadopoulos, M. Bolstridge, K. D. Singh, A. Feilding, K. J. Friston, and D. J. Nutt, The Journal of Neuroscience, 18 September 2013)
- Implications for psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy: functional magnetic resonance imaging study with psilocybin(R. L. Carhart-Harris, R. Leech, T. M. Williams, D. Erritzoe, N. Abbasi, T. Bargiotas, P. Hobden, D. J. Sharp, J. Evans, A. Feilding, R. G. Wise, D. J. Nutt, British Journal of Psychiatry, 26 January 2012)
Beckley Foundation Press Publications
The Beckley Foundation Press was created to allow the publication of Drug Policy and Scientific material that was not being picked up by mainstream publishing houses due to the controversial nature of the material.
Authors: Robin Room, Benedikt Fischer, Wayne Hall, Simon Lenton and Peter Reuter, Convened by Amanda Feilding - Publisher: The Beckley Foundation Press and Oxford University Press (2010). ISBN 978-0-19-958148-1
- Evaluation of Human Brain Fluid Dynamics and Skull Biomechanics in Relation to Cognitive Functioning
- "Drugs and the Brain", Magdalen College, Oxford, (2002).
- "The Role of Drugs in Society", Royal Society, (2003).
- "An Interdisciplinary Perspective on Alcohol and other Recreational Drugs", Cabinet Office, Admiralty Arch, (2003).
- "Global Drug Policy - Future Directions", Westminster Palace, (2004)
- "International Drug Policy Seminar 2005"), House of Lords, Westminster Palace, (2005). A three-day seminar including the Beckley/Foresight Seminar, reviewing the Foresight Report; the meeting of the International Consortium of NGOs, and the meeting of the International Network of Drug Policy Analysis, renamed International Society for the Study of Drug Policy (ISSDP). House of Lords, Westminster Palace
- "UNGASS and the Contribution of Civil Society" House of Lords, Westminster Palace, (2006)
- "The Global Cannabis Commission Report Launch & Assessing International Drug Control- Preparations for UNGASS" House of Lords, Westminster Palace, (2008)
- The Launch of the Global Initiative for Drug Policy Reform. Convened by the Beckley Foundation and launched with the All Party Parliamentary Group - Westminster Palace, (2011)
- The Beckley Foundation
- "The Beckley Foundation, Registered Charity no. SC033546". Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator.
- Breaking the Taboo
- Global Initiative for Drug Policy Reform website
- Psychedelic Science.org.uk
- International Drug Policy Consortium
- International Society for the Study of Drug Policy
- Tom, Peterkin (27 November 2011). "Countess courts rich and famous to end drug war". The Scotsman.