Amanda Feilding, is the Founder and Executive Director of the Beckley Foundation, a UK-based think-tank and UN-accredited NGO, with two main aims: 1) to reform global drug policy and 2) to research the mechanisms underlying altered states of consciousness and how, and why, these states can be beneficial to mankind. She established the Foundation in 1998, and has since been called the ‘hidden hand behind the renaissance of psychedelic science and drug policy reform.’
Through the Foundation’s Scientific Programme, Amanda collaborates with leading experts and institutions to initiate and direct a wide range of scientific research projects (including clinical trials) investigating the effects of psychoactive substances on brain function, subjective experience, and clinical symptoms, with a focus on cannabis, the psychedelics (LSD, psilocybin, DMT, 5-MeO-DMT) and MDMA. This pioneering research has not only shed much light on the mechanisms of action and therapeutic potential of these substances, but also on consciousness itself. One of her most successful achievements was initiating and setting up the Beckley/Imperial Research Programme, which she co-directs with Prof David Nutt.
Through the Foundation’s Policy Programme, Amanda has greatly influenced global drug policy, with the aim of it being based on health, harm reduction, cost-effectiveness, and respect of human rights. In order to bring about change she organised a series of pivotal international seminars, entitled Drugs & Society: A Rational Perspective; commissioned and published over 40 much-cited books and policy reports; and has advised Heads of State on policy reform – most recently the Jamaican government on forming their new medical cannabis industry.
Fascinated by consciousness since childhood, Amanda studied comparative religions and mysticism at Oxford and began investigating the possible beneficial effects of psychedelics in the mid-1960s. In the 1970s, she wrote a booklet entitled Blood & Consciousness and gave exhibitions on the topic of consciousness and its changing states at galleries including PS1 in New York and the ICA in London, where she also showed her film Heartbeat in the Brain. From the 1970s onwards, Amanda watched with dismay the development of the War on Drugs, and felt duty-bound to do whatever she could to remedy its devastating unintended consequences, and to undertake the very best scientific research to remove the taboo from these invaluable compounds.