The Next Legalization Movement: Shrooms

Psychedelic graphic of red capped mushrooms, draped in regal attire.

The United States federal government deems psilocybin- a naturally occurring hallucinogenic substance found in certain mushroom species, as an unsafe Schedule I controlled substance. In other words, any mushroom that contains psychedelic components is unsafe for medical use and has a high potential for abuse. Psilocybin, or “Shrooms” are classified under the same schedule as heroin.

However, in a study conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, the results defy the federal government’s judgement. The study concluded that all psychedelic mushrooms have therapeutic benefits with the potential for drug development.

In a compelling feature by Wired, mushroom users share how the use of the substance has reformed their health. The application of psilocybin as a therapeutic measure ranges in utility, from the suppression of symptoms associated with PTSD, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, end-of-life anxiety, and even pain reduction.

Wired reports that there are at least four fully-fledged organizations throughout North America working to decriminalize the psychoactive substance. Depending on the state, the possession of shrooms can land you a felony charge.

I do not doubt that shrooms will eventually become decriminalized in the U.S. and legalized for medicinal use, however, I do believe that the public’s acceptance of magic mushroom use is fundamental to this process.

There is a huge stigma associated with the use of shrooms because it is a psychedelic that creates highly intense experiences for its users. An average shroom “trip” can last about six hours and can remain in the bloodstream for as long as twelve hours. Given that a psychedelic experience can last so long, more people are reluctant to use it. A positive experience can cause a user to enter a dreamlike state, in which all visual and auditory stimuli are warped through perception. Colors are magnified- inanimate surroundings can be perceived to showcase movement. Sounds are also amplified and can often be sourced from hallucinations. However, as otherworldly a positive experience can be, “bad trips” can result in extreme paranoia, nausea, nervousness, and panic. The greatest risk of using psilocybin is that a high dose could result in liver poisoning. With enough damage, death could occur.

In time, more research will reveal greater medicinal benefits to using psilocybin that will inadvertently overshadow the risks of its use. Or perhaps pharmaceutical technological advancement will eliminate the risk of overdosing. However, until then, I think there is a long way before there will be a nation-wide effort to make the drug medicinally available. There just isn’t any momentum there yet.

You wont be catching me jumping on that social wave. I personally enjoy being in control of my perceptions- but hey! I get why people could enjoy the drug. There is no doubt that there will be a psilocybin movement around the time that the majority of millennials’ become parents.