The family of a young woman who committed suicide after taking the same psychedelic drug praised Prince Harry this weekend has joined campaigners in condemning his comments.
The Duke of Sussex has been widely criticized for discussing his drug use in a 90-minute live stream with trauma expert Dr Gabor Mate, with some claiming he is sending a disturbing message to young people.
Harry shared how using cannabis – a Class B drug – “really helped” him deal with mental health problems after his mother’s death.
He also talked about his ‘positive’ experience with the psychedelic drug ayahuasca it ‘brought me a sense of relaxation, liberation, comfort, a lightness that I managed to hold on to for a certain amount of time’.
But Jennifer Spencer’s family described his comments as “irresponsible” after she committed suicide in 2019 at the age of 29.
Candid Conversation: Harry talks about using drugs in the interview with trauma expert Dr Gabor Mate
Jennifer Spencer, 29, died by suicide after suffering from severe psychosis as a result of taking ayahuasca – a class A hallucinogenic drug
Ms Spencer traveled to enjoy a yoga retreat in Peru where she took ayahuasca – a hallucinogenic drug that is illegal and a class A substance in the UK.
As a result, she developed a severe psychosis, which led her to commit suicide.
Today, her aunt, Fiona Chase, 73, said Prince Harry shouldn’t praise psychedelic drugs because they can affect individuals in dangerously different ways.
She said The sun: ‘He should not talk positively about this drug. It is irresponsible, because many people look up to him.
“It worked for him, but definitely not for Jenny. Like any drug, different people react differently.’
After Mrs Spencer’s death, the coroner issued an urgent warning about the drug to the NHS, saying: ‘There is a lack of awareness about shamanic hallucinogenic drugs and their tendency to cause or exacerbate psychosis.
“Action must be taken to prevent future deaths.”
The Duke, 38, was interviewed by therapist Dr Mate, an outspoken proponent of drug decriminalization who is said to have used the Amazonian plant ayahuasca to treat patients with mental illness.
Harry told him: ‘[Cocaine] didn’t do anything for me, it was more of a social thing and definitely gave me a sense of belonging, I think I probably felt different than how I felt too, which was kind of the point.
“Marijuana is different, that really helped me.”
Fiona Spargo-Mabbs, who founded a drug education charity in the name of her son Daniel (pictured) after he died of an accidental MDMA overdose at age 16, described the comments as ‘concerning’
Mrs Spencer’s family isn’t the only one worried about the Prince’s praise for dangerous drugs.
Fiona Spargo-Mabbs, who founded a drug education charity in her son Daniel’s name after he died of an accidental MDMA overdose at age 16, described the comments as “disturbing.”
“Our work is with under-18s and our concern is that this could send a signal that young people think drugs will help them with things that are really difficult,” she said.
“It’s a time when a lot of them are struggling with their mental health.
“The numbers have really increased and access to support services is a real struggle as the services are incredibly comprehensive.
‘Unfortunately, young people are getting the message somewhere that drugs will solve their problems and anything that reinforces that worries us.
“Using drugs as a coping strategy is more likely to lead to dependence than other motivations because that becomes the way you deal with something.”
She added of Harry: “He’s been very open about his drug use, which is one thing, but the statement that it helped him worries young people.”
TV presenter Kirstie Allsopp also criticized the duke, tweeting: “When you have a huge platform you don’t talk about the use of illegal drugs, the trade that kills people.” In his memoir Spare, Harry admitted to using cocaine, cannabis and magic mushrooms and was accused of being ‘irresponsible’ and glorifying drugs.
Ms Spargo-Mabbs, pictured with her husband Tim, said: ‘Our work is with under 18s and our concern is that this could send a signal that young people will think that drugs will help them with things that are really difficult. ‘
Yesterday, pro-cannabis campaigners used Harry’s comments to bolster their call for cannabis legalization in the UK.
The CannaClub said on Twitter: ‘Definitely time to decriminalize.
“If it’s good enough for our Prince Harry, it’s good enough for millions of people. Listen to the science. Cannabis is good for so many ailments.’
Clear Cannabis Law Reform, which is campaigning to make regulated cannabis legally available by prescription and licensed adult retail outlets, also retweeted a link to an article about the Duke.
Yesterday, a charity berated Dr Mate for diagnosing Harry as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) live on air.
The ADHD Foundation said it was not “ethical nor appropriate to tell someone for the first time in a public interview that they have ADHD.” It is up to the individual to decide whether to make their neurodiversity public.”
For help and support, contact the Samaritans free and anonymously at 116 123 or visit samaritans.org.