Why Transhumanists Are Angry About the UK’s New Drug Law


Modafinil pills. Image: Jason Tester Guerilla Futures/Flickr
Modafinil pills. Image: Jason Tester Guerilla Futures/Flickr
If you are a transhumanist, brain-hacker or college student, you might have heard of nootropics. Nootropics, or “smart drugs,” are compounds thought to have brain-boosting properties, such as memory enhancement, heightened cognition, or increased focus.

By Gian Volpicelli|MOTHERBOARD

But British transhumanists are fretting that a new UK drug law, set to come into force in April, will outlaw these drugs, many of which are currently legal to sell and possess.

The Psychoactive Substances Act was passed into law at the end of January. Conceived as a tool to do away with so-called “legal highs”—unregulated, ever-changing synthetic compounds that mimic the effects (and sometimes the side effects) of illegal drugs—the law prohibits the production, supply, import, export and in some cases possession of any psychoactive substance, with penalties of up to seven years in prison. It defines illegal psychoactive substances as all those that “by stimulating or depressing the person’s central nervous system, [affect] the person’s mental functioning or emotional state.” Most nootropics, which are often marketed as brain stimulants, would automatically be included in the ban.

„Lots of transhumanists use a lot of nootropics and they’re obviously worried“

In a recent statement, the techno-enthusiast Transhumanist Party UK appealed to the government to exempt nootropics from the impending ban.

“Citizens, academics, shift-workers, entrepreneurs and students employ nootropic substances responsibly to aid cognition and modulate mood during times of stress or when peak productivity is required,” the statement reads. “By denying citizens easy and legal access to what could be a beneficial intervention, the government will enforce a reduction in ‘quality of life.’”

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