Above, New Scientist's Graham Lawton describes his experience as a test subject in a groundbreaking study on MDMA, the recreational drug commonly known as ecstasy. The research is being led by David Nutt, a former chief drug advisor to the UK who was dismissed from his position in 2009 after criticizing the government's classification of illegal substances and their potential for inflicting harm. (Nutt famously stated that ecstasy was statistically no more dangerous than an addiction to horse-riding.)
Today, Nutt remains one of the few researchers in the UK licensed to study Class A drugs, those substances thought to pose the greatest harm, or potential harm, to individuals and society. (Class A drugs include substances like LSD, heroin, morphine, cocaine and, yes, ecstasy.) Earlier this year, Nutt and his colleagues published one of the most comprehensive studies to date on the neurological effects of psilocybin, the hallucinogenic chemical (and a Class A substance) found in magic mushrooms.