Home

I am a researcher and writer interested in the future of psychedelics: where are we headed, and how is our trajectory driven by political, ethical, and narrative factors?

I’m based at the University of Oxford, where I’m currently a research fellow at the Wellcome Centre for Ethics and Humanities, and a DPhil student at the Department of Psychiatry.

As a Visiting Associate at King’s College London’s Centre for Affective Disorders, I also do some scientific (rather than normative) work with psychedelics.

Posts of Interest

What if a Pill Can Change Your Politics or Religious Beliefs? (Scientific American)

Psychedelic Medicine

“But how many ultimately benefit from it will be a matter not just of how well it works, but also the narrative surrounding it when it arrives: does psilocybin underline how we are different, or how we are the same?”

My prize-winning piece for the 2020 International Neuroethics Society Essay Contest.

The Bioethics of Psychedelic Psychotherapy

(MAPS Canada)

Psychedelic Bioethics

In this interview with MAPS Canada I lay out in broad strokes what the motivation and rationale for my research are.

Psilocybin the Vanguard (VolteFace)

UK Drug Policy

It doesn’t matter if a drug policy saves lives, saves money, or has a stack of supporting evidence a mile high, because the current political zeitgeist makes this area of legislation primarily a battleground for clashes of values: personal responsibility and desert, vice, law and order, the direction of limited state funds, etc etc.

If reformers want to change that zeitgeist, and build a cultural norm of evidence-responsive drug policy in Westminster, the central planks must be changes which skirt around these clashes of values. Simply put, they need to be changes which mainstream politicians would be unafraid to explain and defend on The Today Programme or The Andrew Neil Show.

Psilocybin rescheduling is, I think, just that kind of change.

Medicinal cannabis: why punish patients for regulatory failure? (1828)

UK Drug Policy

The US criminalises patients who import drugs they are unable to afford domestically. I find this problematic: for the state to coerce patients away from a legitimate treatment disrespects their autonomy as much as coercing them into one.

Despite the recent legitimisation of medicinal cannabis in the UK, regulatory failures have meant that pitifully few NHS prescriptions have been filled, even where patients have the backing of senior clinicians.

The NHS is under no obligation to provide any medicine, at any price, to any patient. But when patients jump through all the hoops, get the backing of specialists, and are still denied access, it is an overreach of state power to criminalise them for acquiring medicine elsewhere.

Here I make an argument for the limited decriminalisation of personal cultivation for medical use, and suggest two ways this can be accommodated with minimal legislative burden.

A trip beyond fear: psychedelics and the end of life (openDemocracy)

Psychedelic Medicine

To civilise death is one of the great challenges of the age. Psilocybin can help.

[Co-written piece with some very knowledgeable types]

Why block the promise of a psychedelic renaissance?(openDemocracy)

UK Drug Policy

Not only would rescheduling psilocybin be the single most positive influence on British science that a Home Secretary could hope to have, it is a much-needed move in response to a mental health crisis subject to much discourse but very little action.

Full disclosure: I didn’t pick the image, which has precisely 0 resemblance to psilocybin mushrooms.