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Banning Pleasure: Psychoactivity and the Law

Cultural Engagement Events
Sponsored by the British Academy and the AHRC


In January 2016, Parliament passed the Psychoactive Substances Act, effectively banning the use of all products which affect the central nervous system1, except those which have been explicitly exempted (i.e. prescription medication, alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine).

For the most part, this law has been portrayed as a pragmatic solution to the growing menace of synthetic cannabinoids and other ‘legal highs’ which have evaded existing drug laws.

In their haste to push through a solution to this serious problem, however, Parliament has failed to listen to a small but important group of voices opposing the ban on the basis of historical and scientific evidence, including their own advisors.

1 ‘[A] substance produces a psychoactive effect in a person if, by stimulating or depressing the person’s central nervous system, it affects the person’s mental functioning or emotional state.’ (Psychoactive Substances Act 2016, CHAPTER 2, Section 2, Paragraph 2)

See the full text of the Act here.

These cultural engagement events will consider the law and the larger question of prohibition from a number of angles: the intellectual, the personal, the aesthetic, the pragmatic, and the affective, to name just a few.

Panel Discussion of Psychoactive Substances Act:
22 March, 7pm, Warwick Arts Centre Studio Theatre. Details, Register

Psychoactive Supper:
17 May Invitation Only. Details

Join the conversation on Twitter! @prohibin2016


For information about the upcoming Psychoactive Supper click here 

For information about the Panel Debate on 22 March, click here.