Author Archives: Aria Babu

Medical MDMA: Radical but reasonable

Recently, British regulators and lawmakers have started to acknowledge the health benefits of certain, previously banned, substances. Cannabidiol (one of the chemical constituents of cannabis but with virtually all of the stuff that gets you high – THC – removed) has been legal since 2017. As of the first of this month, doctors have been able to prescribe cannabis-based products for medical use.

These are moves in the right direction. Cannabidiol has been shown to have anti-anxiety, anti-inflammatory and anti-pain benefits. As the evidence currently stands, it seems to have less harmful side effects than many of the medicines already used to treat such problems (e.g mainstream anti-depressants and opiates).

Other, currently illegal drugs have started to show promise too – especially for helping people with mental health problems. Small doses of LSD and magic mushrooms appear to have very much the same effect as antidepressants, but with fewer side effects.

I’ve seen the drugs-related discussion in the Liberal Democrats largely centre on principles of bodily autonomy and whether the government has much business in policing what adults can choose to do with their time, money and bodies.

But in doing this we overlook a much more important reason to support the legislation and regulation of certain types of drugs. As a party serious about mental health and serious about evidence-based policy we should be at the forefront of the case for the medical applications of ecstasy and magic mushrooms. At the very least we should be pushing for more research into the effects.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 4 Comments

The Core Vote

Through the feeds of politics-internet I haven’t been able to escape the BMG research on the UK’s political clans (find out yours here). If you’ve managed to escape the discussion there’s more information in The Independent (and a more in depth report here), but basically it splits people into ten values and identity groups and then analyses how each vote, essentially highlighting how fractured the current alignments are and how little the current party system reflects these clans.

For liberals of all stripes, the initial findings can be disheartening. People with explicitly authoritarian beliefs make up the largest part of the electorate at 38 percent. Those who might broadly be termed liberal are a much smaller group.

It’s not scientific, but the smattering of polls in various Lib Dem online discussion forums suggest that roughly two thirds of our members are ‘Orange Bookers’ (OBs). This is a group who favour market solutions but are broadly in favour of redistribution and government intervention when the evidence supports it. They’re supportive of free trade, free movement of people and are optimistic about multiculturalism. Another third are ‘Global Green Community’ (GGC). BMG define these as those with a more interventionist view on the economy, but with liberal and environmentalist stances on social issues. They want government to pursue an ethical foreign policy, and have little interest in the nation-state, preferring a civic interpretation of Britishness. After that we have a small smattering of members who fall into one or two other camps.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 35 Comments
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