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Research on the benefits of psychedelic drugs started decades ago, mainly to treat mental illness. However, it had to be stopped because of the reclassification of the drugs to controlled substances in the mid-1970s. In recent years, there has been a resurgence of interest in psychedelic medicine.

Last week, a research suggesting that magic mushrooms can cure depression was out and now a new study reveals that common psychedelic drugs may help in reducing criminal offences.

The recent study was done using data obtained by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, which is administered by the US  Department of Health and Human Services. The researchers collected data of 13 years, from over 4,80,000 adults in the United States to explore the connection between the use of classic psychedelic substances and criminal behaviour. During the survey, the respondents were asked whether they used any classic psychedelics in the past.

The data was analysed by a team that included six researchers from the University of Alabama, Birmingham, led by Peter Hendricks, and one from the University of British Columbia (UBC), Okanagan Campus, Canada.

UBC Okanagan's Associate Professor of Psychology Zach Walsh found out that psychedelic drugs such as magic mushrooms, LSD and mescaline (a substance derived from the peyote cactus) are associated with a decreased likelihood of an antisocial criminal behaviour.

Zach Walsh said: "These findings add to a growing body of research suggesting that use of classic psychedelics may have positive effects on reducing antisocial behaviour."

The study showed that the respondents who have used psychedelic drugs had '27 percent decreased odds of crimes like larceny or theft', '22 percent decreased odds of arrest for a property crime' and '12 percent decreased odds of assault'. However, illicit use of other substances was largely associated with an increased likelihood of criminal behaviour at or above the trend level.

Walsh added saying: "They certainly highlight the need for further research into the potentially beneficial effects of these stigmatized substances for both individual and public health."

Hendricks believes that psilocybin and related compounds could bring about a revolution in the mental health field. "The development of innovative and effective interventions to prevent criminal behaviour is an obvious priority," Hendricks said.

He added saying: "Our findings suggest the protective effects of classic psychedelic use are attributable to genuine reductions in antisocial behaviour rather than reflecting improved evasion of arrest. Simply put, the positive effects associated with classic psychedelic use appear to be reliable. Given the costs of criminal behaviour, the potential represented by this treatment paradigm is significant."

The finding of the new research was published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology.