Magic Mushrooms – Slowly Coming of Age

Today, there is a growing magic mushroom decriminalization movement in this country. They, however, remain illegal and listed as a Schedule I narcotic by the federal government.

  • Three cities have minimized the laws for simple possession.
  • Its proponents are gradually gaining traction.

Psilocybin advocacy groups, like The Society for Psychedelic Outreach, Reform, and Education (SPORE), have even made their way to Washington. There now is a “psychedelic caucus” in Congress pushing for more research on the drug. 

Psilocybin is a naturally occurring psychedelic compound found in a specific species of mushrooms. Recreational users and advocates generally refer to these organic psychedelics as “shrooms” or magic mushrooms. For the last 30 years, they have had to turn to the underground market for their supply, but gradually starting to change.

In all cases, decriminalization means a city will no longer allocate funds to enforce regulations banning the psychedelic fungus or spend city resources on costly law enforcement investigations. As a result, adults aged 21 or older will be able to possess psilocybin mushrooms without fear of prosecution within those city limits.

So far, three U.S. cities have voted to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms. Denver, Colorado, became the first in May 2019, followed by Oakland, California, in June of the same year. Santa Cruz, California, became the most recent to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms. They also broadened the range to “other natural psychedelics, including ayahuasca and peyote,” according to a report by CNN News

Much of the movement behind decriminalization results from studies that show it may help treat some mental health disorders. 

“We have shown for the first time clear changes in brain activity in depressed people treated with psilocybin after failing to respond to conventional treatments,” writes Robert Carhart-Harris, lead author on a psilocybin study at Imperial College London. 

Even the Food and Drug Administration, the federal agency responsible for regulating drugs and drug-related studies in the U.S., is paying attention. In late 2018, the FDA granted breakthrough therapy designation for one company. It cleared the way for clinical trials using psilocybin. 

At the Johns Hopkins Center, scientists believe a range of disorders can benefit from hallucinogenic therapies. Some of these are treatments for conditions like the following:

  • Substance abuse 
  • Treatment-resistant depression
  • End-of-life anxiety 
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder

Some experts worry that people will take these relaxed laws to sign that it’s safe to use large quantities of psilocybin mushrooms. All of the scientific studies are administering tiny doses to people who medical professionals monitor.

  • In a recreational setting, there are still some severe side effects of taking psilocybin. 

Using them will generally have different experiences based on their amount and any tolerance they might have built. Some of the psychedelic effects of psilocybin can include:

  • Visual, tactile, and auditory hallucinations
  • Altered sense of time and reality
  • Nausea, vomiting, a lack of coordination, or drowsiness, significantly if the mushrooms were not grown in a sterile setting

Not everyone has a pleasant, euphoric experience. People can have what’s called a bad trip while on psilocybin. The effects of the drug can last anywhere from three to eight hours, depending on its potency.

There may be a future where, like marijuana, many cities opt to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms. Indeed, though, more research is needed for effective mental health treatments and before the general public assumes that psilocybin is consequence-free. 

MUSHROOM INFOGRAPHIC