Luis Felipe Sequeira Valêncio
University of Campinas
The Role of Research Ethics in the “Psychedelic Renaissance”
In this paper, we present considerations about research ethics involving clinical studies with psychedelics. These topics include issues present in the scarce academic literature specific to this subject, as well as perceptions of researchers involved in psychedelic substance studies and Research Ethics Committees in Brazil. We will address issues such as: the history of controversial uses of psychedelics in human research, recruitment of participants, risks and benefits involved in studies with psychedelics, strategies for conducting informed consent, interfaces between the scientific and ritualistic use of psychedelics, devolution / sharing benefits of the study to participating individuals or communities, and the influences of prohibitionism and the “drug war” on the regulation / execution of research involving psychedelics. We argue that considering topics related to bioethics can be strategic to ensure the ethical framework of studies with psychedelics and thus curb ethically controversial scientific conduct, promoting greater acceptability of this modality of substances in public opinion and the protection of participants in research on psychedelics. Finally, we suggest the inclusion of knowledge and care technologies developed by psychedelic substance users and harm reduction professionals to assist with challenging experiences while participating in research, and argue that further discussion about the ethics of such studies may assist in the orientation of interdisciplinary researchers wishing to study the therapeutic uses of psychedelics. We will depart from the perspective of researchers and members of a Global South Research Ethics Committee, and use the academic production in Research Ethics of Latin American Bioethics as theoretical basis.
Luis Felipe Siqueira Valêncio has a Bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences at São Paulo State University (UNESP), Specialization Course in Clinical and Social Bioethics (REDbioética UNESCO), Specialization Course in Research Ethics Involving Human Beings (REDbioética UNESCO), Master’s degree in Psychology and Health at Medical School of Sao Jose do Rio Preto (FAMERP) and currently conducts research with psychedelics as a Ph.D. student in Public Health at the University of Campinas (UNICAMP) as a member of ICARO – the Interdisciplinary Cooperation for Ayahuasca Research and Outreach. Since 2017, he has been a member of the Research Ethics Committees in Brazil and served on the Municipal Council on Alcohol and Other Drugs (COMAD) in the city of São José do Rio Preto, São Paulo, Brazil. His main subjects of study are therapeutic uses of psychedelic substances, ritualistic use of ayahuasca, drug policy, harm reduction, bioethics, research ethics, informed consent, and deontology.