A new psychedelics master’s degree program starting this fall at the University of Wisconsin-Madison will prepare students for careers studying the therapeutic effects of psychoactive drugs to treat mental illnesses such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Once legal and a flourishing potential treatment option in the field of psychiatric research, psychedelics were swept up in the counterculture movement of the 1960s, made illegal and lost credibility during the war on drugs.
But reignited interest over the past decade in psychedelics as a legitimate therapy option has led to an increase in the number of clinical trials to test psilocybin (the psychedelic compound found in magic mushrooms), MDMA (also called ecstasy and molly) and LSD. Reputable universities, including Johns Hopkins and Berkeley, have established research centers to study the effects of these drugs as therapies.
Completely online, the master’s program at UW-Madison is the first of its kind in the country, said Cody Wenthur, an assistant professor at UW-Madison’s School of Pharmacy. He is the director of the new Psychoactive Pharmaceutical Investigation master’s program.
Wenthur said students’ training will focus on psychedelics, dissociatives, cannabinoids and other psychoactive pharmaceuticals. Anyone interested in applying for the psychedelics master’s degree program can do so by July 31 for fall admission.
“We’re particularly interested in training students to enter the growth pharmaceutical industry surrounding the use of these substances, providing them with the tools to understand the data and also to work in an ethical manner and adhere to all the regulatory pieces surrounding the use of these compounds,” he said.
Some states have decriminalized the use of psychedelics for therapeutic purposes, but Wisconsin isn’t one of them. Wenthur said he and his colleagues are required by law to have Schedule 1 licenses to work with these compounds. Schedule 1 means these drugs have no medical accepted use according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.
But it’s complicated, Wenthur said, because both MDMA and psilocybin have been termed as potential breakthrough therapies by the Federal Drug Administration in treating PTSD and depression, respectively.
Wisconsin Public Radio, © Copyright 2021, Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System and Wisconsin Educational Communications Board.
Want to know more about psychedelics?
- How To Change Your Mind: The New Science of Psychedelics – Michael Pollan
- The Psychedelics Explores Guide
- A Really Good Day
- Psilocybin Mushrooms: A Practical Guide to the Types and Magic Effects of Psychedelic Mushrooms
- DMT: The Spirit Molecule: A Doctor’s Revolutionary Research into the Biology of Near-Death and Mystical Experiences
- Quantum Science of Psychedelics: The Pineal Gland, Multidimensional Reality, and Mayan Cosmology