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Hallucinogens Decriminalized? It’s Possible


Hallucinogens are defined as a class of naturally occurring or synthetic substances that distort the perception of reality, change sensory experiences and alter a user’s sense of time, space and consciousness.

  • These drugs are commonly referred to as “psychedelics” because of the distorted, sometimes vibrant reality people experience while “tripping” on them.

Types of Hallucinogens List – Examples

Here’s a list of some of the most common and popular types:

  • Magic Mushrooms (psilocybin) – a naturally occurring psychedelic with roots in ancient religious ceremonies. Psilocybin, which kicks in about 30 minutes after ingestion, effects the visual, tactical and auditory experiences. A user’s dosage and tolerance to the drug determines how long the psychedelic “trip” lasts, but the length can be anywhere from 3 to 8 hours on average
  • MDMA (ecstasy, molly, e) – a synthetic which has gained immense popularity on the music festival circuit and the “rave” scene, is characterized by a sense of euphoria, reduced anxiety, empathy for others, heightened sensory experiences and mild hallucinations
  • LSD (acid) – lysergic acid diethylamide is a synthetic hallucinogenic that once ingested can send users on a “trip” lasting up to12 hours. Popularized in the ’60’s, LSD alters a person’s thoughts, feelings, the sense of time and can cause visual hallucinations
  • Peyote – native to parts of Southwestern Texas and Mexico, this small cactus’s main psychoactive ingredient is mescaline. Indigenous North Americans for ritual ceremonies used it. Ingesting peyote can cause vibrant visuals and heightened auditory effects that can last up to 10 to 12 hours
  • Ayahuasca – an organic, psychedelic brew made from the plant of the same name, with a history of ancient indigenous South Americans using the brew for traditional medicine and a cherished rite of passage. This hallucinogen is well known for its spiritual and emotional effects, making users feel as if they’ve had an “awakening” or a “rebirth.”

It’s important to note that while these drugs are not considered physically addictive, none of them is risk free, especially for first time users. The risks also increase any time psychedelics are mixed with other substances, such as alcohol or marijuana. There is also the danger of a bad “trip,” where a user experiences intensely negative and horrifying visions.

For this reason, people with existing mental health conditions should avoid taking these drugs until and unless, at some point in the future, certain psychedelics are legalized and a physician prescribes them. That reality might not be farfetched either.

3 States Trying to Get Legalization on the Ballot

Advocates in several states are working on a number of initiatives that would decriminalize or legalize psilocybin mushrooms for recreational or medicinal use.

In Colorado, the campaign to legalize “shrooms,” for adults 21 and older, is restricted to Denver for now, but advocates have already gotten enough signatures that residents will vote on the measure in May 2019.

Psilocybin proponents in Oregon are seeking to decriminalize and legalize the psychedelic substance for adults when provided by a licensed facility. This measure would mark the possibility of medicinal psilocybin use under the care of a physician, if residents can get the 140,000 signatures to get the initiative on the state’s 2020 ballot.

The California campaign stalled after it was unable to get enough signatures from residents to make the 2018 ballot. Golden State psilocybin activists are not discouraged, though. They point to the failed marijuana initiative from just a few years ago, before residents reconsidered and voted to legalize recreational cannabis in 2017.

The growing research on the benefits of some of these drugs, primarily psilocybin mushrooms, as well as greater public awareness about these drugs is, in many ways, mirroring the domino-effect legalized pot had in the country.

“In the future we can start talking about some regulatory framework,” says Matthews, “and I think that would look like perhaps psychedelics treatment centers, but nothing like where you can walk into a dispensary and walk out with a bag of mushrooms. They’re very powerful and individuals should at the very least know what they’re getting into.”

Are There Any Legal Hallucinogens?

Now, there is a growing mainstream movement to legalize some of these drugs, especially psilocybin mushrooms, aka “magic mushrooms,” despite the Drug Enforcement Administration classifying most hallucinogens as Schedule I narcotics.

hallucinogens“We are in a psychedelic renaissance,” Kevin Matthews, the director of a Colorado based advocacy group, tells Vice News. “I think they are becoming more common because the results – at least the initial results from these studies – are so powerful and they kind of came out of left field.”

Some of the studies that Matthews refers to, like this one at John Hopkins University, recommend that the government reclassify naturally occurring psilocybin mushrooms for medicinal use. Researchers at John Hopkins believe that psilocybin might be useful in treating anxiety, depression and even addiction to cigarettes.

A 2018 study, published in the British journal The Lancet, focused on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) treatment using the synthetic hallucinogen MDMA.

  • Scientists reported a profound improvement in symptoms for combat veterans who did not benefit from traditional therapy methods.

Though advocates and some researchers believe in the value of legalizing or decriminalizing hallucinogens, so at the very least more studies can be done on any possible medicinal qualities these substances might have, most of the drugs remain in the realm of illegal recreational use.

  • There are two legal hallucinogens, though they are allowed with serious restrictions.

Peyote and ayahuasca, two organic psychedelic plants, are legally allowable for various Native American tribes that use them in ritual ceremonies.

This exception is as a result of the American Indian Religious Freedom Act of 1978. A number of these tribes “have even won the right for non-indigenous people to participate in peyote ceremonies legally,” as Calvin Hughes, a contributor for the outlet Civilized., reports.

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