Global Health Centre

Psychedelics: Medical miracle or illicit drug?

International Geneva Global Health Platform
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Hybrid: Auditorium Ivan Pictet, Geneva Graduate Institute, Maison de la paix and online.

Moderated panel discussion followed by a reception

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EVENT | Psychedelics: Medical miracle or illicit drug?


Evidence that widely-illegal substances most often grouped under the term “psychedelics” can have remarkable therapeutic benefits is fuelling a “psychedelic renaissance,” bringing together researchers, mental health advocates, the pharmaceutical industry, and many others.

The regulatory landscape for these substances varies significantly from one country to another and depending on the substance, drives patients to travel to obtain and consume substances in countries where they are legal, as in the example of retreats in the Netherlands or ayahuasca ceremonies in Peru.

These substances seem to have potential benefits for specific medical indications, in specific settings, and to have little addictive potential. Should they, therefore, continue to be prohibited in the same way as other illicit substances? Or should they be regulated and promoted to patients who could benefit from them? And what should be the norm-setting role of the World Health Organization? New approaches to drug use and regulation may be needed, taking into account various factors such as the complex relation with mental disorders.

Join us for an insightful discussion about the current state of play in the governance and use of psychedelics in connection with mental health.



Welcome: Suerie Moon | Co-Director, Global Health Centre, Geneva Graduate Institute

Opening remarks by Toni Berthel | President, Swiss Society of Addiction Medicine (SSAM)

  • Barbara Broers | Professor in Addiction Medicine, Geneva University Hospitals, and member of the Swiss Federal Commission for Addiction-related questions and NCDs
  • Maxime Mellina | Coordinator, Groupement Romand d’Etudes des Addictions (GREA)
  • Dilkushi Poovendran | Technical Officer, Expert Committee on Drug Dependence, Health Products Policy and Standards Department, WHO
  • Adeeba Karamulzaman | President & Pro Vice Chancellor, Monash University Malaysia; Commissioner, Global Commission on Drug Policy

Closing Remarks by Antoine Flahault | Director of the Institute of Global Health, Faculty of Medicine, University of Geneva; Deputy Director of the Swiss School of Public Health, Zürich

Moderated by Naomi Burke-Shyne | Executive Director, Harm Reduction International; Visiting Fellow, Global Health Centre, Geneva Graduate Institute

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Organised by

The International Geneva Global Health Platform, and co-hosted by Groupement Romand d’Etudes des Addictions (GREA), the Swiss Society of Addiction Medicine (SSAM) and the Institute of Global Health, Faculty of Medicine, University of Geneva.

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