The UK is “still in the dark ages when it comes to the positive benefits of psilocybin”, SNP MP Owen Thompson has said.

A cross-party group of politicians was told that psilocybin – the active ingredient in magic mushrooms – can be "life-saving" for people struggling with mental health problems.

From July, psychiatrists in Australia will be permitted to prescribe psilocybin to patients with treatment-resistant depression.  

The Midlothian MP has called on the Home Office to urgently review the evidence of the benefits of the substance to treat depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, anorexia nervosa and post-traumatic stress disorder. 

He said: “It is high time that we moved with the times and opened our eyes to how useful psilocybin can be.  

“The Home Office needs to commission an urgent review of the evidence of psilocybin’s relative harms and utility with a view to rescheduling quickly. 

HeraldScotland: Midlothian MP Owen Thompson this week urged Labour leader Keir Starmer to back his Ministerial Interest (Emergency Powers) Bill

“Why can’t qualified clinical professionals do the same here? The UK is still in the dark ages when it comes to the positive benefits of psilocybin. 

“There has been a real resurgence in research in substances that began to be recognised for their medicinal qualities in the 1950s before there was a moral panic and a backlash.” 

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Psilocybin is still categorised as a Schedule 1 drug alongside substances such as crack cocaine and heroin.  

Mr Thompson said the "archaic status" of psilocybin is a direct impediment to vital medical and scientific research. 

In the US, the Food and Drug Administration granted Breakthrough Therapy status for psilocybin in 2018 and Australia followed suit this year, enabling licensed psychiatrists to prescribe them.  

 “The current research suggests psilocybin offers hope as a potential mental health intervention for suicide prevention," said the MP.

“Further research is needed to clarify details of its utility and the optimal approach for using psilocybin in suicide prevention and mental health treatment. 

“But the evidence is clear that it could offer hope to millions.” 

READ MORE: Scientists treat depression with 'magic mushroom' that can reboot the brain 

MPs will hold a debate on Thursday to discuss access to psilocybin treatments, which was put forward by Charlotte Nichols, Crispin Blunt and SNP MP Ronnie Cowan.

Mr Thompson said: “The classification of this substance is not based on the evidence and seems just to be based on decades-old myth and prejudice. 

“Most recently in November last year, I asked the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if she would discuss the potential approval of psilocybin as a medicine with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency. 

“I was told there are no plans to do so. I was also told that for an authorisation to be granted for a medicine, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency must receive a full marketing application from the applicant. 

“This glib response and failure to see the facts beggars belief given we are seeing more people suffer mental health problems because of the chaos caused by the cost of living crisis.” 

Treatment-resistant depression afflicts 1.2 million people in Britain alone.  

MPs are expected to call for the Home Office to immediately facilitate scientific and clinical research, expedite access and base psilocybin's scheduling on evidence by commissioning an urgent review of the evidence by the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs.