The Future Of Drugs: Action for Change (London & Livestream)

Hosted by The Psychedelic Society
Activity Drug Policy & Ethics
Local group London
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Are you frustrated by our outdated drug laws, shaped by decades of political propaganda rather than by being driven by evidence and a desire for better healthcare? So are we. That’s why we’re holding this very special action-focused event in London this Spring.

‘Action For Change’ will be a unique opportunity to learn from some of the people on the frontline campaigning for drug policy change right now in the UK. Each speaker will educate us about what we can do to make a difference.

Are you a teacher? A medical professional or a scientist? Perhaps you’re a member of a trade union? An artist or a media specialist? No matter what your area of interest, this full-day event will help guide and inform you on how you can get involved.

Our expert line-up of speakers will investigate the past, present and future of UK drug policy. Together we will explore why we are so in urgent need of drug policy reform. 

These highly-relevant and informative conversations will span a huge range of topics, including:

  • How do we push harder for the rescheduling of psychedelic compounds for medical and therapeutic use?
  • What needs to change in drug policy for us to feel safer in UK nightclubs?
  • How will we start seeing medical cannabis prescribed on the NHS when it’s already legal?
  • How do police tactics need to change in order to stop drug-related crime in the UK?
  • How can we as individuals help tackle outdated drug policy laws?

In between the talks and panel discussion, planned networking time will give you space to meet like-minded others pushing for more socially-just and evidence-informed drug laws - and perhaps make some new friends along the way! 

We will be joined by various organisations in the drug policy space, including Drug Science, Health Poverty Action, CDPRG and Labour Policy Reform Group, who will have stalls where you can find information, tools and resources from, engage with organisation representatives already making a difference and discover how you can help.


13:30 - 15:00  /  Registration & networking (food available, Zoom Room opens at 14:45)

15:00 - 15:30  /  Welcome from The Psychedelic Society 

15:30 - 16:05  /  Talk - Neil Woods, LEAP - Law Enforcement & Drug Policy

16:05 - 16:35  /  Talk - Rayyan Zafar, Drug Science - Medical Cannabis Research

16:35 - 17:25  /  BREAK (Break out rooms open)

17:25 - 18:00  /  Talk - Niamh Eastwood, Release - Social & Racial Injustice in Drug Policy

18:00 - 18:35  /  Talk - Nick Earles & Elliot Rolfe, Mackrell Solicitors - UK Drug Laws

18:35 - 19:00  /  Talk - Tara Austin, CDPRG - PAR Campaign (Psilocybin Access Rights)

19:00 - 19:50  /  BREAK (Break out rooms open)

19:50 - 20:25  /  Talk - Ester Kincova, Transform - Drug Policy International Landscape

20:25 - 21:35  /  Panel discussion: "The Future of UK Drug Policy" 

21:35 - 22:35  /  Networking & socialising  (Break out rooms open)

This will be a conference-style event taking place in East London cultural hub, Bethnal Green. Between the talks and panels will be regular intervals and dedicated networking time so you can meet and chat with similar minds, get tasty food and drinks from the venue, and check out the various stalls.

Our Speakers 

We are thrilled to be joined by a diverse line-up of crucial contributors to the field:


Neil Woods - LEAP

A former undercover operative whose lived experience on the drugs squad frontline urged him to begin campaigning to end prohibition. Neil is currently a board member of LEAP UK and is a regular in the media commenting on drugs and drug policy reform. 

Rayyan Zafar - Drug Science

Rayyan is a research postgraduate for Imperial College London’s Centre for Psychedelic Research and Neuropsychopharmacology group. He is also an Honorary Research Assistant at Drug Science, working alongside Head of Research, Dr Anne Schlag, on ground-breaking research, publishing scientific and policy reports as part of the Drug Science Medical Cannabis Working Group and Medical Psychedelic Working Group.

Tara Austin - Behavioural and Brand Strategist, CDPRG

Tara is a Behavioral and Brand Strategist, and self-proclaimed Psychedelic Evangelist, whose expertise in business strategy have led her to pitch and run for numerous campaigns across a broad range of sectors. Tara is passionate about drug policy reform and is the brains behind the wonderfully creative Psilocybin Access Rights (#PAR) campaign for the Conservative Drug Policy Reform Group (CDPRG).  She is also a partner in the Ogilvy Behavioural Science practice.

Ester Kincová, Transform

Ester Kincová works as a Research and Policy Officer at Transform Drug Policy Foundation. She is an expert on drug policy and the reform agenda, with a specific focus on the UK political landscape. Ester has most recently focused her work on highlighting the failures of the Misuse of Drugs Act, the UK's main drug legislation. She authored the recent briefing 'Misuse of Drugs Act 1971: Counting the Costs', which assessed the effectiveness (and failures) of the Misuse of Drugs Act through several key metrics, including enforcement spend, criminalisation, use and drug-related deaths.

Nick Earles & Elliott Rolfe - Mackrell Solicitors

Nick and Elliott are lawyers of a very special kind: Nick is a solicitor in the cannabis law team, whilst Elliott is Head of the Psychoactive Medicines Law team. Both have played significant roles in cannabis regulation and are passionate about helping shape the cannabis and psychedelic medicine sector by providing clarity and support to organisations about the law.

Niamh Eastwood - Release

Niamh is Executive Director of Release, the UK’s centre of expertise on drugs and drugs law. Niamh has co-authored a number of Release’s policy papers including “A Quite Revolution: Drug Decriminalisation across the Globe" and “The Colour of Injustice: "Race’, drugs and law enforcement in England and Wales”. Niamh is a member of the Expert Steering Group for the Global Drug Survey and is an Associate Member of the Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, Middlesex University. She is also a committee member for DrugScience and has been a technical advisor to the Global Commission on Drug Policy.

Jade Proudman - Savage Cabbage 

Jade Proudman is the founder of Savage Cabbage, Global Ambassador for Charlotte’s Web, and a major voice in the CBD community. She is passionate about promoting the social, environmental, economic and medicinal wellness benefits that the hemp industry plant can provide to us, and working towards a fair and equitable legalisation of the industry in the UK. Jade works with various stakeholders and policymakers across the UK & EU to drive a more progressive regulatory framework on hemp products and other cannabinoid products. 

Leonie Schneider - PsyPAN

PsyPAN co-founder Leonie Schneider was a participant in the second Psilocybin for Depression clinical trial (PsiloDep 2) at Imperial College. Leonie has since redirected her efforts to expanding access to psychedelic-assisted therapies by actively advocating for the safe and intentional use of psychedelics, including representing patient interests on Professor David Nutt’s Drug Science Medical Psychedelic Working Group, supporting the development and operational delivery of world-class psychedelic retreats and speaking publicly to raise awareness of the possibilities and pitfalls of psychedelic medicine.

Mags Houston (host) - The Psychedelic Society

Mags’ mission is to shift the mainstream narrative around drugs by helping to provide education and challenging UK drug policy, so that therapies and medicines that are currently not accessible to patients might be made available on the NHS and prescribed to the people who desperately need them. Alongside her work for the Psychedelic Society curating and hosting events, Mags is Head of Project Twenty21, Drug Science's medical cannabis study, as well as volunteering for Heroic Hearts Project UK, a not-for-profit organisation that helps veterans suffering with PTSD through psychedelic therapy, retreats and research.


Other organisations represented


Health Poverty Action


Health Poverty Action is an international NGO that acts in solidarity with health workers, activists and communities worldwide to improve health and challenge the causes of poverty. We work in partnership with people and organisations around the world who are pursuing change in their own communities. We view drug prohibition as one of the core drivers of poverty and poor health globally.  Health Poverty Action advocates for drug policy reform by highlighting how it intersects with wider social justice issues such as; the environment; tax justice; trade justice, racial inequality and poor health. Most recently we have been campaigning for legal regulation of drugs as a way of strengthening social justice, reducing violence and increasing accountability in governance. 

Drug Science was formed by a committee of scientists with a passionate belief that the pursuit of knowledge should remain free of all political and commercial interest. Drug Science works to provide an evidence base free from political or commercial influence, creating the foundation for sensible and effective drug laws, and equipping the public, media and policy makers with the knowledge and resources to enact positive change. Founded in 2010 by Professor David Nutt following his removal from his post as Chair of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, Drug Science is the only completely independent, science-led drugs charity, uniquely bringing together leading drugs experts from a wide range of specialisms to carry out ground-breaking research into drug harms and effects.

Release is the national centre of expertise on drugs and drugs law in the UK. The organisation, founded in 1967, is an independent and registered charity. Release provides free non-judgmental, specialist advice and information to the public and professionals on issues related to drug use and to drug laws. The organisation campaigns directly on issues that impact on its clients - it is their experiences that drive the policy work that Release does and why Release advocates for evidence-based drug policies that are founded on principles of public health rather than a criminal justice approach. Release is a NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.

LEAP UK (Law Enforcement Action Partnership) is the British branch of the 501(c)3 non-profit, international, educational organisation comprising former and current police officers, members of the intelligence service, military and a range of figures from the criminal justice system who have joined together with civilians to raise awareness to the failed, dangerous, and expensive pursuit of a punitive drug policy. Our mission is to reduce the multitude of unintended harmful consequences resulting from fighting the "war on drugs" and to lessen the incidence of death, disease, crime and addiction by ultimately ending drug prohibition. We advocate reform and an evidence based policy with a public health focus, including decriminalisation and nuanced regulatory models for all drugs. 

Conservative Drug Policy Reform Group was set up and launched by Conservative MP, Crispin Blunt. It’s objective is for UK drug policy to truly protect young people, deliver better health and social outcomes for families and communities, and reduce drug-related harms. To achieve these goals, drug policy must be evidence-based.


Labour Campaign for Drug Policy Reform was founded by Jeff Smith MP. The Campaign’s Expert Working Group ran consultations with party membership into a concrete set of recommendations. The Chair of the Expert Working Group present these findings for consideration to the Labour front bench.


Psychedelic Participant Advocacy Network (PsyPAN) is a non-profit organisation created to connect and empower all psychedelic participants, whether they are taking part in clinical trials or receiving therapy at the various treatment centres being set up globally.PsyPAN aims to give a collective voice to all participants and help improve participant safety and wellbeing by building best practice across all levels of the global psychedelic sector. This will be achieved by providing consultancy and advocacy services to organisations and by empowering people to become part of a community that helps shape future trials and treatments. 

Transform is a UK-based independent charity. Our vision is a world where drug policy promotes health, protects the vulnerable and puts safety first. To achieve this, we educate the public and policymakers on effective drug policy; we develop and promote viable alternatives to prohibition; we provide a voice for those directly affected by drug policy failures; and we support policymakers and practitioners in achieving positive change 


Volteface is an independent research and advocacy organisation, that seeks to reduce the harm drugs pose to individuals and society, through evidence-based policy reform.

One of the UK's oldest CBD companies producing full-spectrum product.


About the venue

The Backyard Comedy Club has been a hub of nightlife and social scene in East London since 1998 and is one of the major comedy clubs in the capital with an esteemed reputation. 

Information on how to get to the venue can be found here:

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