Ex-drugs adviser gets £500k for ‘magic mushrooms’ work

Over half a million pounds of public money has been handed to a controversial former Government drugs adviser to carry out research into ‘magic mushrooms’.

Professor David Nutt who was sacked in 2009 as the Government’s chief drugs adviser has said taking ecstasy is no more dangerous than riding a horse.

Now Prof Nutt has been given £550,000 to investigate whether the active ingredient in magic mushrooms can help people with depression.


Magic mushrooms, which are Class A drugs, have psilocybin as their active ingredient.

For the trial Prof Nutt wants to recruit 60 patients with depression who have not responded to two previous treatments.

Half will be given a synthetic form of psilocybin while the others will get a placebo drug.


At present Prof Nutt is struggling to start the work. He said: “Finding a company to provide this illegal drug has, as yet, proved impossible.”

He claimed laws established by the United Nations in the area were “archaic” and “inappropriate for modern medicine”.

The money comes from the Medical Research Council and is given to Prof Nutt in his capacity as President of the British Neuroscience Association.

But Mary Brett, of Europe Against Drugs, said: “Why are the MRC giving money to a man who had got it completely wrong over cannabis? Professor Nutt’s patchy record raises questions.”


Prof Nutt was sacked in 2009 by then Home Secretary Alan Johnson, who said he had “lost confidence” in his ability to give impartial advice.

Prof Nutt’s controversial claims about cannabis and ecstasy followed criticisms of Government policy on drugs, including the reclassification of cannabis back to class B.

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