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|Motto||Psychedelic Research, Changing Minds|
|Type||ECOSOC Accredited NGO|
|Legal status||Charitable Trust|
|Purpose||Scientific Research and Drug Policy Reform|
(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 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.
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.
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".
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.
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.
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:
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, an initiative that has been mentioned by President Pérez Molina during Davos 2013 and other official appearances
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.
The Global Initiative for Drug Policy Reform 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:
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.
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.
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 Carhart-Harris, held a press conference at the Royal Society on 11 April 2016 to herald the publication of the paper.
A report in early 2019 indicated that the Foundation would be conducting further research into the use of LSD to trigger long-term improvements in creativity. (A previous study by the Beckley/Imperial Research Programme, in conjunction with Imperial College, indicated some likelihood of success in this goal, according to Fielding.) Fielding offered this summary of the new plan.
Participants will receive two microdoses (10 mic) per week over a period of four weeks. On each microdosing day, they will complete questionnaires to assess various aspects of their mood, wellbeing and cognitive functions as well as other tests, including a computerized Go game, to investigate creativity and intuitive thinking. Brain function will be measured using EEG both at rest and while participants are actively involved in those tests. Importantly, this study will also evaluate the safety and tolerability of repeated microdoses of LSD, via measures of LSD pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics, including physiological markers of inflammation and neurogenesis.
News reports in 2018-2019 indicated that the Foundation had been retained by the Canadian cannabis producer Canopy Growth Corporation to conduct research as to the benefits of various strains of its products, particularly in treating pain, anxiety and drug addiction. One goal is to reduce dependence on opioids in treating cancer-related pain. The two formed Beckley Canopy Therapeutics in Oxford, to raise funds from investors for cannabinoid research and drug development.
Canopy Growth has been planning to export its products to the UK. The long-term intent of the partnership is to confirm the value of cannabis in specific conditions and to convince insurers to pay for medical cannabis when used accordingly. Mark Ware, Canopy's chief medical officer, said in an interview that Feilding's "ability to take a scientific look at what would otherwise be considered as controversial therapeutics makes her a very good partner".
Recent Scientific Journal 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
I strongly suspect LSD, and other psychedelics if used responsibly, have the potential to enhance creativity. The brain imaging studies we carried out through the Beckley/Imperial Research Programme showed a remarkable increase in connectivity throughout the brain under LSD and psilocybin, which with further research may well prove to be linked with mental flexibility and enhanced creative thought.Missing or empty
Beckley Canopy Therapeutics, based in Oxford, England has raised ?7.4 million for the purposes of cannabinoid research and drug development. The new company is a unique partnership established between Canopy Growth Corporation and the Beckley Foundation, a research institute which examines the utilization of psychotropic drugs for the treatment of physical and mental conditions. Studies focusing on the use of cannabinoids for the treatment of opioid addiction and cancer pain will be conducted in Europe, the UK and the US. .. This is exactly the kind of high-placed, societally influential effort in other words, that might finally break the medical taboo at the most important remaining logjam- at the point of prescription and approval for patients.
As a new business partnership investing in UK medicine and research, we would like the government to ensure that access to medicinal cannabis is as simple and straightforward as possible for patients.