Will Psilocybin Mushrooms Become Legalized in the Near Future?
Whether you have consumed psilocybin mushrooms or not, their legal status is a topic of great interest to you, me, and everyone.
Although psilocybin is illegal at the federal level in the United States and in most states, people have been using these mushrooms for spiritual and recreational purposes for decades. There is plenty of scientific evidence that psilocybin mushrooms provide therapeutic benefits as well.
There is a growing realization that legalizing psilocybin mushrooms could lead to increased research on their medicinal properties, safe cultivation methods, and proper guidelines for effective dosing and maximizing benefits.
It may not be long before psilocybin mushrooms become legal in all states, given the efforts being made in various parts of the US to legalize them. Let’s explore these efforts and also learn more about the benefits of these mushrooms.
What Is Psilocybin?
Mushrooms contain a wide variety of chemicals that can affect users physically, mentally, and psychologically. One of the most potent of these chemicals is called psilocybin, which has hallucinogenic properties.
Psilocybin is mainly found in magic mushrooms or psilocybin mushrooms, which can impact a person’s health and behavior in numerous ways, ranging from hallucinations to euphoria.
Psilocybin is a well-known psychoactive substance and hallucinogen, first isolated by Dr. Albert Hofmann in 1958 from certain mushrooms that grow in the wild or can be cultivated.
Consuming mushrooms with psychedelic properties is not a new practice, many cultures throughout the world have used psilocybin mushrooms for their hallucinogenic effects.
People consume magic mushrooms in various ways, such as by drying and powdering them or using them fresh in drinks or cooked with other vegetables. Nowadays, dried and powdered magic mushrooms are often taken as capsules, as dried mushrooms contain 10 times more psilocybin than fresh ones.
It’s worth noting that intravenous ingestion of psilocybin is not recommended, as it has been shown to be dangerous, resulting in septic shock, multi-organ failure, and other serious outcomes. Fortunately, there are numerous other ways to consume psilocybin that are safer and more effective.
Scientists have identified over 200 species of psilocybin mushrooms, each containing varying concentrations of psychoactive substances like psilocin and psilocybin. The effects of these substances typically begin within 30-45 minutes of consumption and can last up to 6 hours.
What effect does psilocybin have on the body? As a psychoactive substance, psilocybin influences specific neurotransmitters in the brain.
It primarily targets the prefrontal cortex and activates serotonin receptors, which are responsible for cognitive functions such as arousal, perception, mood, and panic response. However, magic mushrooms can also impact other areas of the brain and affect various cognitive and psychological faculties.
Contrary to popular belief, the hallucinogenic effects of psilocybin mushrooms may not be as dangerous or strong as some people claim. The hallucinations that users experience are primarily due to perceived distortion of objects and people in the surrounding environment.
The effects of psilocybin mushrooms on users can depend on several factors, including their biological constitution, the dosage ingested, and the type and strength of the mushroom.
Due to their strong psychoactive properties, the cultivation, processing, distribution, and usage of psilocybin mushrooms are heavily regulated in the United States and in several other countries.
A Short History of Psilocybin Mushrooms
Historical evidence suggests that humans were aware of magic mushrooms thousands of years ago. Cave paintings dating back to 9,000 BC depict psilocybin mushrooms, indicating their importance in ancient cultures.
Traditional Systems of Medication (TSM) and several belief systems also incorporated psilocybin mushrooms in their rituals and treatments. The Aztecs, for example, used hallucinogenic substances in their ceremonies, and some historians believe that the Aztec’s “flesh of the gods” referred to a species of magic mushroom.
Magic mushrooms eventually made their way to the United States in the 20th century, thanks in part to R. Gordon Wasson, a J.P. Morgan Bank executive. Wasson recounted his experience participating in a Mazatec ceremony and learning about these mushrooms in an article in Life Magazine titled “Seeking the Magic Mushroom,” which popularized the term “Magic Mushrooms” for shrooms with psilocybin and other psychoactive properties.
During this time, a Swiss scientist and the father of LSD, Albert Hoffman, was called upon to study these mushrooms. Hoffman was the first to isolate psilocybin and attribute the psychoactive effects of shrooms to this psychedelic compound, further increasing scientific interest in the mushrooms.
Winds of Change: Legal Use of Psilocybin Mushrooms Will Be a Reality Soon
Activists fighting for a cause are inspired by the victories of others. Cannabis activists fought for years and finally achieved a historic victory, enabling people to safely access marijuana for medical and recreational purposes. Similarly, there has been a parallel fight for the decriminalization and legalization of psychedelic mushrooms.
After years of tireless effort, psilocybin mushroom activists experienced their first major success in Ann Arbor when the city council decriminalized the use of shrooms and other psychedelic plants.
Just before that, the US FDA designated psilocybin a “breakthrough therapy”, meaning it has shown clear improvements in existing treatments and is in the trial stage.
With studies clearly establishing the medical and therapeutic benefits of magic mushrooms, a positive change in the attitude of legislative authorities wasn’t far off.
In 2020, the state of Oregon approved the adult use of psychedelic plants, including magic mushrooms, through a historic vote and began the process of establishing the required licensing and regulatory framework.
Earlier this year, Oregon legalized psilocybin use to treat various mental health conditions, but there are still severe restrictions on how shrooms can be sold and consumed.
Psilocybin mushrooms can only be taken under strict supervision at licensed service centers and cannot be bought at dispensaries like cannabis.
Despite the checks and controls, legalizing psilocybin mushrooms was a historic and revolutionary step. Following Oregon’s lead, over the past three years, a dozen or so states and cities have taken measures to decriminalize psychedelics, including New York, Colorado, Seattle, and Washington D.C.
Activists championing the cause of psilocybin claim that there is bipartisan support to legalize the substance at the federal level. Sooner or later, psilocybin will be legalized at the federal level, but the sooner the better. In the absence of a regulatory framework, illegal sales and use are putting people’s health in danger.
Psilocybin never should have been banned in the first place, and now that the wrong is being corrected, it is the duty of the government, at the city, state, and federal level, to develop a golden standard framework for its sale and consumption.
The Many Benefits of Psilocybin Mushrooms
Studies have shown that magic mushrooms may offer a range of potential benefits, from treating addiction to fighting depression. Let’s explore some of these benefits.
In our efforts to combat the pervasive problem of stress and anxiety, we have incorporated various activities such as yoga, meditation, and deep breathing exercises.
However, an even more effective solution may be on the horizon. Recent studies suggest that psilocybin mushrooms can significantly reduce stress and alleviate anxiety.
Patients with advanced-stage cancer often experience anxiety and depression. In a study conducted at John Hopkins, psilocybin was administered to 51 patients with life-threatening cancer diagnoses. The results showed a decrease in anxiety and depression, as well as a significant improvement in optimism and overall quality of life.1
Research indicates that magic mushrooms may offer more than just temporary relief for depression; they could potentially treat it effectively over a long period of time.
In a study involving 27 participants with a long history of depression, psilocybin was prescribed in two doses every two weeks for a period of two years.
The researchers found that the treatment not only reduced the symptoms of depression during the treatment period, but the positive effects continued for up to 12 months after the treatment period.2
Currently, researchers are investigating whether the positive effects of psilocybin can last beyond one year.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
The prevalence of PTSD cases is on the rise worldwide due to various factors such as the pandemic, war, and a fragile economic situation. As researchers explore various solutions, psilocybin has emerged as a promising contender in treating post-traumatic stress disorder.
Animal studies have demonstrated positive results, with the administration of low doses of psilocybin in mice resulting in an improved fear response.
Headaches and migraines are common side effects of taking psychedelic substances. However, researchers have found that micro-dosing psilocybin or other psychoactive substances can help reduce these neurological conditions.3
Treating Alcoholism, Smoking, and Other Addictions
Psychedelic substances are often accused of causing addiction, but research suggests otherwise. A study found that the use of psilocybin reduced alcohol cravings and consumption.4 The ability of magic mushrooms to reduce cravings and dependence extends to other addictive substances as well.
A study conducted at John Hopkins University reported an improvement in smoking abstinence after a psilocybin treatment. The researchers at the university attributed addiction to a mental routine and administered psilocybin in well-planned sessions to break the routine and dependence on the addictive substance.5
How to Microdose Psilocybin?
We have come a long way in our discussion about the potential legalization of psilocybin, from the question of “Will psilocybin ever be legalized?” to “How soon will psilocybin be legalized?”
However, it is important to note that psilocybin is not your typical over-the-counter medication and comes with both positive and negative effects. While some people use it recreationally to experience euphoria, spiritual awakening, and peacefulness, others are excited about its potential health benefits.
Magic mushrooms have the potential to improve mental health, and experts believe that microdosing or taking small doses of psilocybin mushrooms can be beneficial without producing the “tripping” effect associated with psychedelics.
According to a report in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, microdosing is defined as taking just 1% of the therapeutic dose, but in common practice, taking 10% of the normal dose is considered microdosing.6
The goal of microdosing is to access the benefits of psychedelics without experiencing the negative side effects.
Microdosing can help users improve clarity, manage mood, boost performance, and reduce stress, anxiety, and depression.
Studies have compiled the benefits of psychedelic microdosing after analyzing self-reported results and the outcomes of several trials.7 These benefits include improved mental health, creativity, enhanced brain functioning, focus, improved optimism and social habits, better energy levels, and reduced signs of stress and anxiety. According to Paul Stamets, a world renown mycologist, combining psilocybin with Lion’s Mane mushrooms may have a synergistic effect to speed up these neurological benefits!
Therefore, while we wait for the legalization of psilocybin mushrooms, it’s important to understand how microdosing can help access the potential health benefits of psilocybin without experiencing the negative side effects.
Not too long ago, I believed that the use of psilocybin mushrooms would never become legal. However, I am happy to report that we may be approaching a significant milestone!
We may soon witness not just decriminalization but also the widespread use of psilocybin mushrooms for medical purposes. Especially because people are losing faith in conventional medicine. Psilocybin is a truly remarkable compound that has the potential to bring immense benefits to humanity!
- Griffiths, Roland R et al. “Psilocybin produces substantial and sustained decreases in depression and anxiety in patients with life-threatening cancer: A randomized double-blind trial.”Journal of psychopharmacology (Oxford, England)vol. 30,12 (2016): 1181-1197. doi:10.1177/0269881116675513
- Gukasyan N, Davis AK, Barrett FS, et al. Efficacy and safety of psilocybin-assisted treatment for major depressive disorder: Prospective 12-month follow-up. Journal of Psychopharmacology. 2022;36(2):151-158. doi:10.1177/02698811211073759
- Andersson, M., Persson, M. & Kjellgren, A. Psychoactive substances as a last resort—a qualitative study of self-treatment of migraine and cluster headaches.Harm Reduct J14, 60 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12954-017-0186-6
- Bogenschutz, Michael P et al. “Psilocybin-assisted treatment for alcohol dependence: a proof-of-concept study.”Journal of psychopharmacology (Oxford, England)vol. 29,3 (2015): 289-99. doi:10.1177/0269881114565144
- Johnson, Matthew W et al. “Long-term follow-up of psilocybin-facilitated smoking cessation.”The American journal of drug and alcohol abusevol. 43,1 (2017): 55-60. doi:10.3109/00952990.2016.1170135
- Kuypers KP, Ng L, Erritzoe D, et al. Microdosing psychedelics: More questions than answers? An overview and suggestions for future research. Journal of Psychopharmacology. 2019;33(9):1039-1057. doi:10.1177/0269881119857204
- Anderson, T., Petranker, R., Christopher, A.et al.Psychedelic microdosing benefits and challenges: an empirical codebook. Harm Reduct J 16, 43 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12954-019-0308-4