The Hub at Oxford for Psychedelic Ethics (HOPE) is a new interdisciplinary programme, which aims to develop sustainable frameworks for psychedelic ethics, law, and social policy.
Based within the Oxford-NUS Centre for Neuroethics and Society, the programme is directed by Oxford’s Brian D. Earp, with associate director David B. Yaden (Johns Hopkins) and in collaboration with Holly Fernandez Lynch (Penn), I. Glenn Cohen (Harvard) and Lori Bruce (Yale). The senior advisory directors are Professors Ilina Singh (Oxford), Neil Levy (Oxford), and Julian Savulescu (National University of Singapore).
Psychedelics including psilocybin are being examined in scientific research for their potential clinical efficacy in treating mood and substance use disorders with approval for clinical use looking highly likely. Additionally, policies regulating psychedelic use are changing rapidly across the world, with several US jurisdictions easing criminal restrictions, and at least one state passing measures to permit administration of psilocybin in advance of federal rescheduling.
A number of clinical trials have established the profound––sometimes transformative––impact that psychedelic experiences can have on some people, and yet there are risks as well. These risks do not only operate at the level of the individual, but also at social-historical and political levels. The lack of appropriate ethical, social, legal and policy guidance was a major part of what caused the 1960s-era movement around psychedelics to fail, driving these substances underground, not only exacerbating otherwise manageable harms, but limiting their potential positive impact.
The current drive to conduct more rigorous science on psychedelics, though laudable, can only ever be part of the solution. Just as leading neuroscientists and other researchers are doing their part to guide the development of this crucial moment, leading ethicists, philosophers, and law and policy experts need to be involved at the ground floor.
Serving as an international academic and policy hub, bringing together leading researchers and other stakeholders throughout society to advance critically engaged and reflexive integration of psychedelic science with ethics, law, and policy.
Ethics-to-public policy pipeline, building practical working links with on-the-ground regulators, lawmakers, practitioners.
Foundational academic articles on psychedelic ethics, advancing to the bioethics community the notion of psychedelic ethics as a branch of medical- and bioethics of substantive importance and conceptual novelty.
Training the next generation of leaders in psychedelic ethics and policy through postdoctoral positions and PhD studentships, with opportunities to visit, collaborate with, and learn from cutting-edge work in psychedelic science and law at partner institutions.
Hosting an inaugural, then annual, global summit on psychedelic ethics, gathering together key figures from multiple sectors to produce up-to-date consensus statements outlining indispensable ethical, legal, and policy guardrails needed to safeguard the development of the psychedelic ecosystem – both medical and non-medical – and provide expert guidance to researchers, practitioners, industry.
Ongoing policy briefs to governments and non-profits to help guide the development of ethical and effective regulatory structures.
Public attitudes surveys and robust social science research tracking and understanding public responses to (and readiness for) novel uses of, and access to, psychedelics.
Responsible communication of psychedelic science and ethics through press releases, engagement with media partners, blog posts, podcasts, video explainers, and other multimedia approaches.