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The Psychedelic Renaissance and Its Forensic Implications

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Abstract

Recent years have seen a renaissance of research into the use of psychedelic compounds to address various psychiatric conditions. The study of these substances went dormant in 1970 when the United States government passed the Controlled Substances Act, which categorized lysergic acid diethylamide, commonly known as LSD or acid, as a Schedule I drug. The rise of psychedelics in research settings raises questions regarding their risks outside of clinical trials. The available data on the impact of psychedelic use on interpersonal violence and other criminal behavior remain scant. Although Timothy Leary’s work of the 1960s failed to clearly demonstrate a reduction in criminal recidivism with psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy, recent studies suggest that the use of psychedelics may reduce individuals’ risk of interpersonal violence. Forensic psychiatrists should be aware of this research, as well as the role that psychedelics may play in various forensic assessments. This article summarizes basic information that the forensic practitioner should know about psychedelic substances, including their various effects and proposed mechanism of action; describes historical and recent research into psychedelics and criminal behavior; and offers evaluators a practical means by which to assess individuals’ psychedelic use in forensic contexts.

Holoyda, B. (2020). The Psychedelic Renaissance and Its Forensic Implications. The journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law48(1), 87-97., 10.29158/JAAPL.003917-20
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