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Legalizing psychedelics

mr peabody

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Welcome! Following is a DIGEST of articles and reports that is constantly updated. Jump in!


Alexander "Sasha" Shulgin


Psilocybin proponents push medical benefits of the drug, ballot initiative

by Conor McCormick-Cavanagh | August 22, 2018

Sandra had never done drugs before in her life, but a broken back and multiple opioid prescriptions later, she was addicted to painkillers. Not only that, but she was also severely depressed.

Her doctor tried to wean her off one opioid while pumping up her dosage for another, but that didn't work. Amid her struggles with addiction and depression, Sandra decided to visit her daughter in California, and it was in the Golden State that she was introduced to psilocybin. Skeptical at first, Sandra eventually came around and tried psilocybin at her daughter's suggestion. The results were profound.

"Psilocybin definitely saved my life," Sandra says.

According to her, it cured her depression, and the positive benefits lasted for months after that one dose; she now takes a dose every few months.

Local advocates, including Sandra, who asked that her full name not be used for this story, met this week to discuss psilocybin's use as a medicine for end-of-life care and a ballot initiative that they hope will decriminalize it in Denver.

Hosted by the Psychedelic Club of Denver, the meeting included speakers Dr. Shannon Hughes and Dr. Robert Colbert, researchers with the Nowak Society, where they study the benefits of drugs like psilocybin for end-of-life treatment. A study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology showed that terminally ill patients treated with psilocybin had "substantial and sustained decreases in depression and anxiety." More commonly known as "magic mushrooms," psilocybin for medicinal use is ground into a powder and put into a capsule. Patients who take the pills are often monitored by a physician and go through psychotherapy before or after the experience. They can also opt to take psilocybin the more traditional way: by consuming dried mushrooms at home or in nature.

Hughes and Colbert are working to raise awareness about the Right to Try Act, which "allows terminally ill patients to access investigational treatments that have passed basic safety testing with the FDA but are not yet available on pharmacy shelves." Such treatments could include psilocybin.

Despite Colorado being the first state to pass similar legislation in 2014, few people have taken advantage of psilocybin because it's not readily available, according to Kevin Matthews, campaign director of Denver for Psilocybin. "Additionally challenging is the fact that doctors and prescribers are unfamiliar with the law," he says. Under the Right to Try Act, prescribers can direct terminally ill patients toward psilocybin treatment after all other treatment options have been exhausted.

Matthews and his team are finalizing their final ballot initiative to decriminalize psilocybin in Denver. According to Matthews, the group will turn in the final language to Denver City Council for review on Friday. To get on the May 2019 city election ballot, the initiative needs approximately 5,000 signatures by March. The initiative allows for possession of up to 28 grams and cultivation of up to 280 grams.

https://www.westword.com/news/denve...omote-drug-for-end-of-life-treatment-10685987
 
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mr peabody

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Denver to vote on decriminalizes psilocybin

by Conor McCormick-Cavanagh | February 1, 2019

Denver Elections Division confirmed today, February 1, that the psilocybin decriminalization initiative has enough signatures to get on the May ballot.

"We're stoked. It's very significant that for the first time in U.S. history, citizens of a city get to vote on decriminalizing psilocybin mushrooms," says Kevin Matthews, the leader of Decriminalize Denver, the group behind the initiative.

Decriminalize Denver has been trying for close to a year to get on the ballot. The group first tried to get on the November 2018 ballot, but failed to make it to the signature-gathering stage. Proponents regrouped and went all in for May 2019.

If the Denver Psilocybin Initiative passes, personal use, possession and growth of psilocybin mushrooms for adults 21 and over would become the city's "lowest law-enforcement priority." Additionally, the initiative would "prohibit the city from spending resources to impose criminal penalties" for personal use, possession, and growth. And the initiative would establish the "psilocybin mushroom policy review panel to assess and report on the effects of the ordinance." This panel would be similar to the already-existing panel for marijuana and would comprise eleven members, including two from city council. Psilocybin decriminalization would be similar to what Denver did in 2005 for marijuana.

The federal government currently considers psilocybin, the psychedelic compound that occurs naturally in certain mushrooms, as a Schedule I drug. That means it has no "accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse," according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.

However, scientific opinion about psilocybin is a bit more complex. A 2016 study in the Journal of Psychopharmacology concluded that "psilocybin produces substantial and sustained decreases in depression and anxiety in patients with life-threatening cancer."

The initiative has been endorsed by the Denver Green Party and the Libertarian Party of Colorado.

With this last obstacle out of the way, Matthews says he is optimistic. "We recognize we have a lot of work to do. But we're very excited about the support we have and about changing the hearts and minds of Denver."

https://www.westword.com/news/denver-will-vote-on-psilocybin-decriminalization-in-may-11212366
 
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mr peabody

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Inside the push to legalize Magic Mushrooms

by Troy Farah | 02.07.19

When Todd’s psychiatrist suggested he start taking psychedelics, he figured it was a joke.

It wasn’t. The former corporate executive from Colorado retired in 2006 after an MRI revealed his spine was riddled with a dozen tumors called hemangiomas, which later spread to his brain. Todd was told he would die before the end of 2008.

Somehow, Todd has survived. He credits medical marijuana, but he is still considered terminal. “It could be tomorrow. It could be five years from now,” he says in a call.

However, the 54-year-old spent the past decade plagued by a host of mental health problems, including PTSD and treatment-resistant depression. He was suicidal and tormented by violent night terrors. Nothing, not even massive doses of Xanax or Valium, could temper his panic attacks or end-of-life anxiety.

“My mental condition was deteriorating rapidly, and I was on [antidepressant] medication No. 14 and it wasn’t working,” Todd says. “My psychiatrist said, ‘I honestly think you're a big candidate for psychedelics.’”

That was about a year ago. Todd began taking homegrown psilocybin, the highly illegal alkaloid in so-called magic mushrooms. Known for prompting profound hallucinations, psilocybin was placed in the restrictive Schedule I category in 1970, meaning the US government recognizes no medical use for the drug and says that it carries a high risk of abuse.

Todd says there have been clear benefits from psilocybin with few side effects. He hasn’t had a single PTSD episode since he began taking it. His depression evaporated. The mushrooms even help ease the pain—agony that feels like being “shot in the back”—from the nerve-crushing tumors in his spine and skull.

“It’s knocked that out, it’s wiped that slate clean,” Todd says. The day before we talked, he’d eaten eight grams of fungus. A heavy dose is considered five grams, so this was no psychedelic snack—but Todd ingests this much about every week.

The experience is positively hypnagogic, allowing trippers to enter a dreamlike conscious state where time is distorted, color is amplified, and depth perception is warped. Euphoric, unbridled laughter is common, as are oddly introspective thoughts about existence and reality, and even synesthetic sensations, such as being able to “see” sounds.

There can be negative effects as well, such as nausea, dizziness, paranoia, or panic attacks, but Todd doesn’t experience those. He still takes 10 milligrams of escitalopram, an antidepressant, and when the mushrooms wear off, 30 milligrams of the opioid oxycodone, but otherwise his prescription drug intake has drastically decreased.

Todd asked me not to use his real name, fearful that his health insurance provider could sever benefits because he uses illicit substances. But his doctors are aware and supportive of his psychedelic drug use, he says, which may legally exempt him under the federal Right To Try Act for terminally ill patients, signed by President Trump last May.

Indeed, magic mushrooms are having a therapeutic moment. In North America, at least four organizations, each with unique strategies, are working to expand access to psilocybin for anyone with mental health issues, dying or not. These groups hope to undo decades of psilocybin prohibition by removing criminal penalties for possession or cultivation, or by providing access to psilocybin in a therapist’s offices, or both.

They cite a small but growing body of research suggesting psychedelic drugs can, in fact, be medically beneficial with low potential for addiction or abuse. Some small studies suggest that psilocybin can alleviate obsessive-compulsive disorder, treatment-resistant depression, end-of-life anxiety, addiction, cluster headaches, and, yes, relieve pain. There’s also growing evidence that ingesting the drug can promote optimism and prosocial and mystical worldviews, and nurture well-being.

In just a few years, pockets of psilocybin-legal jurisdictions could appear, following the similar path that medical marijuana took to mainstream acceptance. The leaders of this movement include Compass Pathways, a UK startup developing psilocybin therapy for treatment-resistant depression in North America and Europe.

There are also two psilocybin grassroots movements, one in Oregon and another in Denver. If voters approve the Oregon Psilocybin Service Initiative in 2020, the state would develop a licensed psilocybin therapist industry and lower criminal penalties for growing or consuming mushrooms. Denver city voters may also get to decide whether to decriminalize personal possession and use of mushrooms—a voter initiative just gathered enough signatures to appear on the May ballot.

Finally, there’s TheraPsil, a group of seven Canadian health care professionals who formally announced their intent to challenge the illegality of psilocybin by petitioning Health Canada to allow access to mushrooms in a medical setting for terminal patients.

These little saprophytes—organisms that devour dead or decaying organic matter—are indeed enjoying a resurgence in popularity. But there are still numerous obstacles before psilocybin goes from black market hallucinogen to psychedelic medicine.

The Swiss chemical company Sandoz began in 1886 as a dye manufacturer, later pivoting to pharmaceuticals. But in 1947, with the help of one of their lead scientists, Albert Hofmann, the business began producing a psychiatric drug they called Delysid. Most people know it as LSD.

The psychedelic showed promise for treating mental health problems, but an LSD trip can last eight to 12 hours, so Sandoz sought a shorter-acting alternative. In 1958 Hofmann became the first to isolate psilocybin from mushrooms, subsequently developing a synthetic version called Indocybin. He first tried it on himself. Indocybin was safely marketed from 1961 until a rising cultural backlash against psychedelics led Sandoz to discontinue sales in 1966.

Now, more than 50 years later, a company is looking to pick up where Sandoz left off. Compass Pathways was founded in 2016 by George Goldsmith and Ekaterina Malievskaia, a married couple from London with little experience in the pharmaceutical industry. When their son developed treatment-resistant depression and OCD, they were desperate for help.

“The more they were treating him, the worse he was getting,” Malievskaia says in a call. So they took matters into their own hands. They began looking into scientific reports that psilocybin can rapidly reverse symptoms of depression for patients who have tried other approaches without results. And unlike Todd, these patients took only a single dose, not one per week.

Compass, which has reaped about $31.5 million in Series A investment, is conducting two studies to see how viable psilocybin is for psychotherapy. The first, due to finish in early 2019, is a double-blind placebo-controlled trial planned with 90 healthy volunteers to evaluate cognitive and emotional function. The study is also helping to train Compass’ therapists.

The Food and Drug Administration recently granted the company “breakthrough” therapy status for its second study, giving Compass priority review, following approval in August of a phase IIB clinical trial, designed to establish proper dosing.

The study is recruiting 216 participants across North America and Europe, making it the largest clinical psilocybin trial to date. Patients meet with a therapist to prepare, then are later given synthetic psilocybin, which can cost upward of $7,000 per gram, while being monitored for the duration of the trip. Afterward, the therapist helps patients process the experience. If successful, these trials could lead to psilocybin therapy becoming legal in the US by 2021.

Compass began as a nonprofit, but after realizing this research could cost an estimated $300 million, the company shifted to a for-profit model. That transition and other moves have drawn sharp criticism from some in the psychedelic community. A Quartz article published in November aired the concerns of numerous critics of Compass, who claimed that the company was backed by dubious investors and was attempting to monopolize magic mushrooms.

About a quarter of Compass is owned by Atai Life Sciences, a biopharmaceutical startup founded in 2018 by entrepreneur Christian Angermayer. One of Atai’s backers is PayPal cofounder and tech mogul Peter Thiel, who has come under fire for helping bankrupt Gawker via a lawsuit, donating money to President Trump, and selling surveillance tech to various governments for countering terrorism and policing migrants.

Malievskaia dismisses the criticism of Thiel. He has no say in Compass’ business operations, she says. “Peter is not one of the major investors. Personally, I think it's an excellent use of his money,” she says. “We don't screen investors based on their political convictions or what skeletons they have in their closets … It’s an equal-opportunity investment, and we are in charge of our mission, vision, execution.”

Because it occurs in nature, it’s not possible to patent psilocybin, but it is legal to patent a synthetic manufacturing process, which Compass has done. To manufacture psilocybin in large quantities, they solved about 60 different technical problems, a project that cost about $750,000, according to Malievskaia. Switching to a for-profit strategy was a “very logical development,” she says. But some have interpreted this as Compass trying to corner the psilocybin market or prevent others from researching it.

“It doesn't mean that we patented psilocybin as a molecule,” Malievskaia says. “Anyone can make it in many different ways: 3D printing, growing on yeast, genetic engineering … This is not blocking anyone. Investigators who want to use our product, we share it free of charge in exchange of providing safety data.”

While the US federal government has long held that psilocybin is dangerous, scientific evidence says otherwise. In the November issue of Neuropharmacology, a team of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine researchers argued that under the Controlled Substances Act’s own criteria, psilocybin should not be Schedule I but the much less restrictive Schedule IV.

The grassroots movements in Oregon and Denver are citing this and other research in the hopes of removing local penalties for using or growing mushrooms.

The first to appear was the Oregon Psilocybin Society, founded by married therapist couple Tom and Sheri Eckert of Beaverton, who were inspired by—what else?—a personal mushroom experience. Their initiative would not only drastically reduce penalties for using or possessing psilocybin, it would create a state framework for therapists to become licensed psilocybin administrators, not too unlike Compass.

In other words, you wouldn’t be able to walk into an Oregon Circle K and get an eighth of shrooms. But if you believed that psilocybin, synthetic or from mushrooms, could help your mental health—or heck, even if you were just curious about what the experience is like—there’d be options. Getting insurance to cover it would be another issue entirely, of course.

The state attorney general recently approved OPS’s ballot title, so they now have until July 2020 to gather about 117,000 signatures. Then, during the next presidential election, Oregon voters will decide if this program is right for them. OPS hired a marketing research firm to test the waters and found that 47 percent of voters were in favor of their campaign with 46 percent opposed. That number rose to 64 percent when pollsters explained details about the initiative, with 54 percent in support of decriminalization.

So far, OPS has experienced no opposition, they say, but anticipate some backlash once the question is on the ballot.

“We suspect that Big Pharma is not gonna like this idea,” Sheri says in a call. “If you can treat an individual and it actually heals them and they no longer need to be daily dosing psych meds—that definitely impacts their budget.” She and others note that psilocybin could help ease the enormous financial cost of mental health disorders, which make up about 10 percent of the global burden of disease. (The market for depression medicine alone is expected to be worth $16.8 billion worldwide next year.)

The Eckerts are wary, but not completely distrustful, of bigger players like Compass. “We don't want to see it locked up in hospitals, costing impossible amounts of money,” Tom says. “The market has to play out in some way, but we are doing everything we can to make this a community-based framework.”

The ordinance proposed by Decriminalize Denver, the pro-psilocybin movement in Colorado, wouldn’t provide a system for public sales or psilocybin therapy, but for anyone 21 and over, personal use and possession of psilocybin would carry the lowest law-enforcement priority. The group’s ballot initiative, which has been endorsed by the local Libertarian and Green parties, would also prevent the city from spending any money to impose criminal penalties. (Despite living in Colorado, Todd, the psilocybin patient, would not be affected because the law would apply only to Denver.)

After the local elections division approved their ballot initiative in October, Decriminalize Denver gathered and submitted more than 8,500 signatures, almost double the required number. About 5,500 were accepted, meaning on May 7, 2019, city voters may decide whether to decriminalize personal possession and use of mushrooms.

The mile-high town is historically progressive on drug use: It was the first US city to legalize marijuana, in 2005, and in 2018 the city council voted in favor of overdose prevention sites for drug users to use narcotics like heroin under medical supervision. That law is pending state approval. Denver mayor Michael Hancock has walked back his support for supervised drug use and also does not support the psilocybin proposal.

Contrary to popular belief, Denver would not be the first North American locale to decriminalize mushrooms. In 2005, a New Mexico Court of Appeals ruled that growing mushrooms for personal use doesn’t technically count as drug manufacture, so even sprouting psilocybin in your dorm room isn’t illegal. Louisiana also exempts the cultivation of psychoactive plants and fungi “strictly for aesthetic, landscaping, or decorative purposes.” Nonetheless, Denver’s precedent on other drug issues has made folks like Kevin Matthews, the DD campaign director, optimistic that voters will reward his efforts.

“We talk to people all the time who say ‘Mushrooms have saved my life, mushrooms saved my marriage, mushrooms have broken me out of my depression, mushrooms are the only thing that works for my cluster headaches,’” Matthews says in a call. “I had a gentleman who signed the petition the other day who said it's the only thing that works for his wife's polycystic kidney disease. I had never even heard that one before.”

Meanwhile, in British Columbia, a team of seven health care professionals are gearing up for a legal fight in the hopes of legalizing psilocybin for terminal patients with end-of-life distress. About eight years ago, Bruce Tobin, a psychotherapist with 35 years of experience practicing in Victoria, British Columbia, was approached by one of his patients who desperately requested psilocybin therapy. She had survived cancer, but couldn’t shake the debilitating psychological suffering she had experienced with her diagnosis.

“She had tried everything: medicines, therapists, $1,000-per-day residential treatment programs. Nothing had worked,” Tobin says in an email. But what she was asking was still very illegal. Rather than break the law, Tobin decided to change it.

“I discovered,” Tobin explains, “I could apply for a so-called Section 56(1) exemption that would excuse me from the provisions of the Canadian Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, allowing me to legally use psilocybin in cases where it was ‘necessary for a medical purpose.’”

Thus, TheraPsil was born. The organization is petitioning the Canadian health authority to make psilocybin available medicinally, but only for people with dire need, similar to a trial planned in Melbourne, Australia this April. Tobin filed his application with Health Canada in January 2017, and it has been a slow road ever since, he says. Six other psychotherapists and medical professionals have since joined his efforts.

“If they decline to approve our application, our path forward is clear,” Tobin says. “Our legal counsel will file for a judicial review of Health Canada’s decision. If that is unsuccessful, we plan to go to the Federal Court of Appeals using the same arguments based on the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms that were successful in compelling the government to change federal law to allow for patients’ access to medical cannabis. We are feeling confident.”

“There have been few, if any, real breakthroughs in the last quarter century in the development of psychiatric medicines,”
Tobin adds. “Psilocybin promises to be a real game-changer.”

Indeed, it may not be long before psilocybin is legally available, one way or another, in various parts of the globe. As Robin Carhart-Harris, a leading psilocybin researcher, recently put it at the most recent World Economic Forum meeting, “The climate’s looking good.”

Like an underground hyphal knot, these efforts could form into fat, juicy mushrooms—the fungal fruits from decades of combined political, scientific, and social justice campaigns to bring psilocybin into the light.

https://www.wired.com/story/inside-the-push-to-legalize-magic-mushrooms-for-depression-and-ptsd/
 
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mr peabody

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Oregon "Psilocybin Services" ballot measure has significant support, poll shows


PSI 2020, a campaign committee in Oregon, has released scientific polling showing that Oregon voters are currently split on the Psilocybin Service Initiative of Oregon, a ballot initiative measure aiming to legalize access to psilocybin assisted therapy in 2020. The measure would also reduce penalties for the possession of psilocybin "magic" mushrooms. Participants in the survey, conducted by DHM Research, were given a clean look at the Certified Ballot Title (as it would appear on the ballot in 2020) and were then asked how they would vote if the election were held today. 47% voted in favor ("yes" or "leaning yes"). 46% were opposed ("no" or "leaning no"). 7% were undecided.

When the measure's two primary elements were clarified, support was much higher. According to the poll, 64% of Oregon voters support lawful access to therapeutic psilocybin services. 55% support reducing existing criminal penalties for possessing psilocybin mushrooms.

"These early numbers show that the campaign is viable and the possibility of success is real," says Tom Eckert, who, with his wife Sheri Eckert, co-founded the effort and serve as Chief Petitioners. "But we have our work cut out for us."

Sheri Eckert adds, "Support rises significantly when people know what is actually in the measure, which means that educating the public is critical."

According to the Eckerts, the campaign is focused on statewide signature canvassing (they need 112,200 valid signatures from Oregon voters by June of 2020) and educational outreach throughout 2019. "All of this takes money, so fundraising is key," says Tom Eckert, noting that the Oregon Psilocybin Society – the educational arm of the campaign - is holding a benefit fundraiser at the Portland Art Museum on March 3rd. The benefit includes dinner, special guests, and a keynote from Dr. Robin Carhart-Harris, Head of Psychedelic Research at the Imperial College of London.

https://www.prnewswire.com/news-rel...significant-support-poll-shows-300790433.html
 
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mr peabody

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'Magic Mushrooms' may soon be decriminalised in parts of the US

by Carley Cassella | 5 FEB 2019

The United States may soon begin to loosen its grip on 'magic mushrooms', a legal fist that's been shaking since 1970.

In the 2019 elections, residents of Denver, Colorado will be voting on whether to decriminalise the possession of small amounts of psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms.

In addition, there are a number of grassroots movements advocating for the same all over the country, especially in the state of Oregon, according to a report from Vice.

Even if these initiatives fail, as they did in California last year, there are several reasons to believe the rules might be softened in the near future.

Psilocybin is currently classified as a Schedule I drug in the US, meaning it is a felony if someone is caught in possession of it. Substances that fall into this category are deemed to have a high potential for abuse with no accepted medical use.

But while this may well describe a highly-addictive and lethal drug like heroin, from what scientists at Johns Hopkins University can tell, it does not fully apply to psilocybin.

In a 2018 analysis, these researchers found that despite its classification, psilocybin has manageable side effects and low-enough potential for abuse "if approved as medicine".

This isn't to say that psilocybin doesn't hold any harmful effects. The authors simply argue that psilocybin would fit better as a Schedule IV substance, keeping company with other drugs that have a "low potential for abuse and low risk of dependence", like benzodiazepines (eg. Xanax).

"We want to initiate the conversation now as to how to classify psilocybin to facilitate its path to the clinic and minimise logistical hurdles in the future," psychiatrist Matthew W. Johnson from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine said last September.

"We expect these final clearance trials to take place in the next five years or so."

It's not just a handful of scientists that are coming around to the idea. A massive report from the Global Drug Survey in 2017 found that psilocybin was one of the safest drugs on the market, sending the absolute fewest people to the emergency room.

What's more, the drug has real promise as a medical treatment in certain areas. Some research suggests psilocybin could be a better alternative to current depression treatments. Others suggest it could be a useful way to treat addiction.

In Denver, those who support the measure are hoping it can reduce psychological stress and opioid dependence. Although, because of federal restrictions, the studies that are finding such benefits are still largely in their infancy.

Lest it be misunderstood, advocates of decriminalisation in these states are not proposing that psilocybin no longer be considered a drug, or that it become completely legal.

In Denver, the campaigners say that magic mushrooms will still maintain the same classification and legality, they will simply be a low priority for law enforcement overall. In Oregon, the campaigners want to regulate psilocybin use at licensed facilities, while also decriminalising possession, manufacture and delivery.

This isn't some pie-in-the-sky hippie dream - at least not any more. The US Drug Enforcement Agency also places marijuana in the same category as magic mushrooms, and in Colorado and Oregon, where marijuana is legally sold and grown, we have already seen how that has worked out.

In fact, Oregon just recently reclassified the possession of several drugs such as heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine from a felony to a misdemeanour in the hopes of curbing the region's drug abuse. It seems only natural that residents in the state now go for psilocybin.

With each year it seems more likely that magic mushrooms are set to join the ranks of drugs-turned-medical-treatments, and as far as we can tell, science shows this idea has merit.

https://www.sciencealert.com/magic-mushrooms-may-soon-be-decriminalised-in-some-us-states
 
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Magic mushrooms could be made legal in Britain

by Jamie Micklethwaite | 26th January 2019

MAGIC mushrooms should be made legal in the UK once again, a former government health tsar has urged as a US city prepares to decriminalise their use.

Magic mushrooms are set to become decriminalised in the first US city, Denver, following a petition.

And now debate is raging around the world whether to do the same.

Top scientists have argued for psychedelic mushrooms' healing properties, with them being used to treat mental health issues.

With laws being relaxed on cannabis oil, it is hoped the same rules could be applied to mushrooms.

Former government health tsar David Nutt has called on the government to follow Denver.

He told Daily Star Online: "I hope this leads to magic mushrooms being decriminalised in the UK."

"They were legal until 2005 when they were banned for political reasons rather than health ones."


Both fresh and prepared psilocybin mushrooms were banned after ministers argued they were harmful to users.

But Professor Nutt argues that decriminalising them again would open the drug up to more medical trials.

He added: "Decriminalising magic mushrooms would allow much more research and treatment trials."

Studies on mushrooms conducted in the 50s and 60s showed they were effective in treating alcoholism and depression.

These studies are now limited, however, due to Magic Mushrooms now being a class A drug.

Professor Nutt added he would like also like to see laws relaxed on MDMA and cannabis in the near future.

2018 was a breakthrough year for cannabis in the UK, with forms of the drug being legalised for medical treatment.

This has led to weed fans calling for all forms of the drug to be legalised like in Canada.

But the government has so far resisted calls to legalise recreational cannabis.

https://www.dailystar.co.uk/news/lat...-benefits-cure
 
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Tom and Sheri Eckert


Oregon moves to legalize magic mushrooms with 2020 ballot measure

The state of Oregon will soon vote on a ballot initiative to legalize psilocybin, the psychoactive ingredient in “magic” mushrooms, in a 2020 election. If passed, the measure would decriminalize possession, allow administration from licensed professionals, legalize the manufacture and delivery, and create a regulatory program for its clinical use.

The measure comes in the wake of widespread legalization and decriminalization of state laws related to cannabis, as well as a multitude of government-sanctioned studies exploring the use of psychedelics to treat depression, PTSD, drug addiction, and chronic headaches.

In addition to changes in the social and political climate surrounding these substances, public health regulatory agencies are starting to recognize the clinical benefits of psychedelics, including the FDA which recently gave psilocybin breakthrough therapy status for treatment-resistance depression, meaning it will expedite development and approval processes for the drug’s use.

This recent wave of legalization marks a progressive turning point, after decades of oppressive and inane drug laws that have filled prisons (many of which are private and for profit), spawned opioid epidemics, and unfairly targeted minorities. And now it appears that the tides are slowly turning, potentially leading to a day when medical professionals can precisely and sensibly utilize an ancient plant medicine with healing potential.

Psilocybin is currently Schedule I – the same classification as drugs like cocaine and heroine – but if passed, the amendment would move to reclassify it as Schedule IV, the same as anti-anxiety medications such as Xanax. However, the drug could only be administered by a professional in a clinical setting and patients would remain in that setting until the effects of the drug wore off.

Oregon is not the only state attempting to legalize psilocybin as similar ballot measures are being proposed in certain California cities, as well as Denver, CO. However, Oregon is now the first state to attain the required number of signatures for the measure to make the 2020 ballot.

The Oregon measure is being headed by Tom and Sheri Eckert, two psychotherapists practicing in the Portland area, who also founded the Oregon Psilocybin Society.

“A growing body of evidence demonstrates that psilocybin assisted therapy is safe and uniquely effective. We think that this novel approach could help alleviate the mental health crisis here in Oregon by addressing costly epidemics like suicide, treatment-resistant depression and anxiety, PTSD, and addiction to drugs, alcohol, and nicotine. Additionally, the measure would open doors for new research, create access to services for those interested in personal development, and reduce penalties for common possession of psilocybin,” — PSI Chief Petitioners Tom and Sheri Eckert

A number of government-sanctioned clinical trials with psilocybin and other psychedelic substances have proven successful recently, particularly by researchers at Johns Hopkins and London’s Imperial College, for treatment of PTSD, depression, and drug addiction. In one breakthrough study headed by Dr. Robin Carhart-Harris, psilocybin was found to flip a “reset” mechanism in the brains of patients experiencing treatment-resistant forms of depression.

His work, as well as that of Dr. Roland Griffiths, has made drastic steps forward in the field of psychedelic therapy, opening up new modalities for patients who have exhausted all pharmaceutical options in treating severe mental illnesses.

Further anecdotal evidence has been found for the use of psilocybin in treating cluster headaches and chronic migraines. In fact, there is evidence that Albert Hoffman – the eminent discoverer of LSD-25 – was researching psilocybin as a potential treatment for headaches before it was criminalized in 1968.

https://www.gaia.com/article/oregon-moves-to-legalize-magic-mushrooms-with-2020-ballot-measure
 
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Magic mushrooms should be legalised for medical use so that we can help patients

by David Nutt | 15 Aug 2018

The liberation of medical cannabis for those suffering from intractable conditions, which cannabinoids can remedy, is a welcome relief from the UK’s antiquated drug laws.

But it begs questions, such as why the government denied the truth about medical cannabis for so long, and how many patients may have suffered unnecessarily as a result of this politically motivated denial of medical evidence.

Up until recently, cannabis was considered a schedule one drug, meaning it was classified by the government as not acceptable for medical use, unless the Home Office issued a license for it.

These new developments should make sensible people wonder if other schedule one drugs might also have therapeutic properties.

In my opinion, the answer to whether or not they do is a very simple yes.

Like cannabis, a number of schedule one drugs were once medicines, and so should still be available for medical practitioners to research and maybe even prescribe.

These include hallucinogenic drugs such as psilocybin, also known as magic mushrooms, LSD and MDMA.

We conducted the first modern study of psilocybin as a treatment for depression and found that it had remarkable effects in people who had failed in other drug treatments and also not responded to psychotherapy.

The only drawback was the cost, which came to $2,500 per dose due to the extreme nature of the regulations that we had to comply with.

Because psilocybin is considered a class A, schedule one drug, the safety measures surrounding it are more stringent than those for heroin.

As a doctor, I am trusted to be able to prescribe strong opioid painkillers, but to research magic mushrooms, I need an extra high level police clearance check, and a special license that costs thousands of pounds. Why?

Two other US groups at Johns Hopkins and New York University recently found that psilocybin could help people who are dealing with anxiety and depression, which have occurred as a result of being given a diagnosis of terminal illness.

In all these cases, the impact of the currently illegal drug is profound and immediate.

Treatment consists of one or two administrations with appropriate psychotherapy; quite different from the current psychiatric approach of taking medicine every day.

Psilocybin seems to work by enabling patients to find an understanding or even solution to their illness, and so overcome them, rather than by doing what current treatments do, which is keeping symptoms at bay.

At the moment, we and the other research groups have patients contacting us on a regular basis asking for these treatments for their intractable illnesses and we are powerless to help.

Perhaps now the Chief Medical Officer Sally Davies can review this scientific literature and come to the same conclusion as she did with cannabis – that these drugs are medicines and should be taken out of schedule one, so that we as medical professionals can easily and properly research them and help people.

https://metro.co.uk/2018/08/15/drug...cal-use-so-that-we-can-help-patients-7841359/
 
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The Legalize Psilocybin Petition

The Psychedelic Society, along with other organisations and individuals listed below, are calling on the UK government to reschedule psilocybin, a compound that has been called a ‘breakthrough’ treatment for mental health.

Recent trials using psilocybin to treat depression and anxiety have returned staggering results, with 80% of patients reporting improved wellbeing or life satisfaction for up to six months from just a single dose.

Psilocybin is currently a Schedule 1 substance. Schedule 1 substances are not authorised for medical use and can only be supplied, possessed or administered in exceptional circumstances under a special Home Office licence. This means psilocybin cannot be prescribed by doctors, and that conducting research with it is extremely time-consuming and expensive.

By rescheduling psilocybin from Schedule 1 to Schedule 2 or below, research would become faster and cheaper, and doctors would be able to start prescribing the substance when they see fit.

Petition text

To the UK Ministers for Drug Policy and Mental Health,

4 million people suffer from depression & anxiety in the UK1. Research has shown the potential of psilocybin to treat these conditions2, 3, 4, 5, yet it is being hindered by the restrictive Schedule 1 status of the substance. Out of compassion for those suffering from depression & anxiety, we ask that you take immediate action to reschedule psilocybin.

Featured signatories



Caroline Lucas MP - Green Party co-leader and MP for Brighton Pavilion

Our drug laws will only start to keep people safe when they start taking account of the evidence rather than being based on dogma and scaremongering. There’s already evidence that psilocybin can have benefits for sufferers of depression and rescheduling would allow more patients to potentially benefit from further research, as well as giving doctors the option to prescribe it. This is a small change that would make a big difference, including potentially helping to protect anyone tempted to self-medicate under the current regime.




David Nutt - Professor of Neuropsychopharmacology, Imperial College London

Research into the treatments we urgently need is being suffocated by anti-science laws - and the UK’s leadership in this field jeopardised with it. Unless the government acts quickly to reschedule psilocybin, we will soon be outpaced by other countries to whom mental health and scientific development is a priority. We need laws that support science, not stifle it.




Ronan Harrington - Founder, Alter Ego

Nothing can stop an idea whose time has come. The convergence of our mental health crisis with the scientific consensus that psilocybin is a game changer for the treatment of depression is now too difficult to ignore or turn our backs on. We owe it to our friends and family members who are suffering to break from the irrational taboo surrounding psychedelics.




Amanda Feilding - Director, The Beckley Foundation

The number of antidepressants prescribed in England has more than doubled in the last decade, but the most common treatment, SSRIs, do not work for up to 50% of people. With no major breakthrough in drug development for three decades, it is vital that we facilitate research into better alternatives. Let us put health, and the reduction of suffering ahead of political expediency and rigid-thinking. Let’s reschedule psilocybin now.




Steve Rolles - Senior Policy Analyst, Transform

The politics of the war on drugs continues to create barriers to medical research - not least through the mis-scheduling of psychedelics. Ill-considered scheduling decisions from a long distant era are now holding back the exploration of research with potentially far-reaching benefits for our health and well being. A relatively simple change in scheduling would be an important step in facilitating this work. It's time we stopped playing politics with people health and allowed doctors and scientists to do what they are best at.




Dr Ben Sessa - MBBS (MD) MRCPsych

I am doctor working with patients who are struggling to recover with traditional approaches. Psychedelic therapies with psilocybin and other compounds (e.g. MDMA) are a safe and effective form of treatment that my patients deserve.

Sign the petition here:

https://psychedelicsociety.org.uk/p...l-health?referrer_id=54ba7e6e3638650003f80000
 
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Arguments for legalisation

Despite thousands of years of use by humans, psychedelics were abruptly made illegal to possess by a UN convention in 1971 as a consequence of President Nixon’s War on Drugs.

Whilst the policy was framed as promoting public health, one of Nixon’s top advisors said in 1994 that the drug war was in fact a ploy to undermine Nixon's political opposition :

"You want to know what this was really all about? The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I'm saying? We knew we couldn't make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did."

To this day, the UK government persists in claiming that psychoactive substances are classified on the basis of harm, but the House of Commons’ own Science and Technology Committee has described UK drug law as "arbitrary", "unscientific" and "based on historical assumptions, not scientific assessment", and the government's chief drug adviser was famously sacked when he pointed out that classical psychedelics are far less dangerous than alcohol.

Let's examine some key arguments for why psychedelics should be legal to supply and possess.

The benefit argument

Studies suggest psychedelics could be a breakthrough therapy for mental health issues including depression, anxiety, addiction, OCD, and PTSD through their ability to work on a deep emotional as well as biological level. Matthew Johnson, who leads the Johns Hopkins University Psilocybin Research Project, says "Unlike almost all other psychiatric medications that have a direct biological effect, these drugs seem to work through biology to open up a psychological opportunity”.

Psychedelics can also bring about profoundly positive and meaningful experiences for people who aren't facing any particular issue or difficulty. In a study by the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, 80% of those who received psilocybin said it was one of the five most meaningful experiences of their lives; 50% said it was the single most meaningful experience. Many of the participants said they were left with the sense that they understood themselves and others better and therefore had greater compassion and patience - a change reported by their colleagues, friends and families too.

Psychedelics may also improve creativity and problem-solving abilities. Apple's Steve Jobs said taking LSD was "one of the most important things [I did] in my life" , whilst Gregory Sams, co-founder of Whole Earth Foods, said "It was as a direct consequence of my brother and myself taking LSD that we introduced natural and organic foods in the UK."

The liberty argument

A 2010 study rated LSD and magic mushrooms as among the safest of 19 commonly used drugs, significantly safer than alcohol and tobacco.





Surely any psychoactive substance less risky than alcohol should be legally available in some way? Anything else is pure discrimination against sections of the population that happen to prefer other substances.

What possible justification is there for saying "OK, you can legally go out binge drinking every Friday and Saturday night, but if you go out picking for magic mushrooms once a year then we'll lock you up"?

The substitution argument

The use of psychoactive substances is a near universal practice of human cultures across history. Whatever the laws, people will still use psychoactive substances.

Were psychedelics and other low risk substances legalised, we would likely see a net health benefit to society as (at least some of the time) people chose to consume psychedelics instead of alcohol and other riskier substances. Prof David Nutt estimates that a regulated market in cannabis could cut alcohol consumption by up to 25%.

https://psychedelicsociety.org.uk/arguments-for-legalisation
 
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Psychedelic mushrooms put Denver at the center of the national drug debate — again

by Andrew Kenney | Feb 19, 2019

Psilocybin is in a cultural resurgence, and Denver’s at the forefront

Denver is at the forefront of America’s next drug reform movement — again.

Thousands of residents have signed on in an effort to loosen restrictions on psilocybin mushrooms. In three months, a question about decriminalizing the psychedelic drug will appear on the city’s elections ballots alongside the mayoral election and more mundane affairs.

The campaigners behind the Decriminalize Denver measure already have made history: This is the first time U.S. voters will consider giving a second chance to the drug, which was the subject of great scientific interest before its reputation was annihilated in the 1970s.

Now, the measure has raised the same fear and excitement as the marijuana liberalization effort: Will it cement the city’s reputation as a mecca for drugs, effective progressive policies, or both?

“People from all over the world are getting in touch with us,” said Kevin Matthews, the 33-year-old, stay-at-home dad who is managing the campaign. “That’s what’s exciting about this: The fact that this is getting international attention, very positive attention, I think speaks to the movement overall.”

The ballot measure

Even if voters approve the new law, it would remain illegal to buy, sell and possess the drug.

Instead, the measure would attempt to tie the city’s hands on enforcement. It would instruct police officers that adult psilocybin users should be their absolute lowest priority — the last thing they should do. See a person jaywalking and a person with a sack of shrooms? Get the jaywalker.

“I do believe that is the first ‘lowest law enforcement priority’ initiative for psilocybin,” said Art Way, state director for the Drug Policy Alliance. “In that aspect, it is groundbreaking.”

Arrests related to psychedelics are relatively rare, but the penalties are far more serious than for typical marijuana charges. Possession alone is a felony punishable by up to a year in prison and a hefty fine. Most defendants escape jail time, but it’s always a threat, according to attorney Rob Corry.

Since 2016, the Denver Police Department has counted about 158 psilocybin-related arrests. The proposed change applies only to people over 21.

What mushrooms do

Matthews’ psilocybin journey to the psychedelic reform movement started somewhere unusual: the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

“I had worked, up until that time, basically my entire life, to not only get into West Point but also to be a career military officer in the U.S. Army,” he explained in a Denver Post interview. But he left the academy after three years because of major depression.

“I didn’t graduate, I didn’t receive a commission — and honestly, that destroyed me,” he said.

Today, he said, he is using the leadership abilities he learned “in a totally different way” on the political campaign. He is one of many who say that psilocybin changed their perspective.

Psilocybin is a psychedelic drug that can send users into a mental trip for three to six hours. Its effects are variable, but users might feel as if time itself is slowing while their senses meld together and they’re confronted by hallucinations and spiritual experiences, according to the Center for Substance Abuse Research.

New research from Johns Hopkins University has shown that those experiences can help people make permanent life changes — at least when used in a controlled, therapeutic setting. Researchers also have found that the drug can bring on terrifying and disturbing experiences, though.

“It allowed me to see outside the box that depression had created. It opened me up to a new world of possibility,” Matthews said.

But the decriminalization campaign won’t focus on the drug’s potential benefits, he said. Instead, it will argue that criminal penalties aren’t the right way to address a drug that many scientists rate as minimally dangerous.

“Psilocybin is safer than cannabis. Cannabis is safer than alcohol. There’s no reason for us to be criminalizing individuals and spending taxpayer money,” Matthews said.

But his most prominent critic says the initiative is a sneaky step toward full legalization and sale of the drug.

“It kind of feels like we’re the last ones in Colorado who are opposed to drug legalization, or decriminalization,” said Jeff Hunt, director of the conservative Centennial Institute at Colorado Christian University.

Hunt is amenable to the argument that criminal consequences might do more harm than good, but he sees this measure as a step toward another legal drug industry.

“That’s my concern about psilocybin,” he said. “We’re setting up the argument for commercialization.”

A long history

The history of psilocybin mushrooms dates back “at least hundreds and likely thousands” of years in Central and South America, according to one study. Encounters with the drug are recorded in the works of Spanish friars traveling through Central America during the 1500s — and the colonizers later outlawed the fungus and drove its use underground.

The subject was all but ignored by Western science until the 1950s, when Americans were admitted to secret ceremonies, launching a new, intensive study of the drug. LSD and psilocybin were studied and sold commercially into the 1960s — but they were classified as “Schedule 1,” the most restricted category of drugs, when the United States’ modern drug laws were created in 1970.

Research into the substances disappeared over the subsequent years, with the last legal dose of psilocybin administered in 1977 in Maryland, according to Michael Pollan’s new book, How to Change Your Mind.

The modern age began in 1999, Pollan writes, as federal authorities approved a new research regime at Johns Hopkins University. In the 20 years since, hundreds of people have taken legal doses in controlled settings.

One small study from the university found remarkable results for cigarette smokers: After a combination of behavioral therapy and psilocybin doses, 60 percent quit smoking for at least 16 months — compared with success rates around 30 percent for medications. Another found that guided psilocybin experiences produced “substantial spiritual effects,” with an increased sense of well-being and life satisfaction lasting more than 14 months for most subjects.

There is no evidence of physical dependence or withdrawal among users. The drug is consistently rated by users and experts as one of the least harmful drugs, according to a Johns Hopkins paper published in Neuropharmacology.

But the drug also can have a dark side. While people in controlled settings report overwhelmingly positive experiences, trips can go wrong in the real world.

One survey found that people who have a bad trip on mushrooms often rate it as one of the worst experiences of their life, including three suicide attempts among about 2,000 respondents. And Johns Hopkins researchers have cautioned against giving hallucinogens to people who are at risk for serious mental disorders.

“There’s a small but real percentage of the population, 1 or 2 percent, that have active psychotic disorders, or they have a good predisposition to develop psychotic disorders,” said Dr. Matthew Johnson, who has researched psilocybin for 15 years at Johns Hopkins. “It’s very clear those people should not be exposed to psychedelics like psilocybin.”

The cannabis comparison

Voters may approve the measure, but there’s one big question: Would it matter? Would the local government listen?

Denver voters approved marijuana decriminalization measures in 2005 and 2007, but the police kept enforcing the law. “I think the city continued on its merry way,” said Way, of Drug Policy Alliance. Still, those votes helped build public support for legalization, advocates say.

The psilocybin proposal does try something new: It bans the city from using its money and other resources to enforce mushroom penalties.

Denver District Attorney Beth McCann does not support the initiative, although she would like to see the issue studied more.

“Until we have had a longer period to learn more about the impact of marijuana legalization, I do not support the legalization of another federally-banned substance,” she said in a written statement.

And she would prefer a statewide effort to a municipal one, she said. Mayor Michael Hancock does not support the ballot measure, and Attorney General Phil Weiser declined to comment.

Meanwhile, campaigners in Oregon are taking a different approach. Their statewide ballot measure for 2020 would allow people to use the drug at licensed facilities.

Kevin Bommer, deputy director of the Colorado Municipal League, said the Denver mushroom effort looks pretty small in comparison.

“It’s just a single-city issue right now, and we’ll see what happens after it passes,” he said. “After marijuana, I thought I knew everything — there wouldn’t be anything more.”

https://www.denverpost.com/2019/02/19/psychedelic-mushrooms-denver/
 
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Psychedelic mushrooms closer to medicinal use

by Laura Holson | Oct 3, 2018

Researchers from Johns Hopkins University have recommended that psilocybin, the active compound in hallucinogenic mushrooms, be reclassified for medical use, potentially paving the way for the psychedelic drug to one day treat depression and anxiety and help people stop smoking.

The suggestion to reclassify psilocybin from a Schedule I drug, with no known medical benefit, to a Schedule IV drug, which is akin to prescription sleeping pills, was part of a review to assess the safety and abuse of medically administered psilocybin.

Before the Food and Drug Administration can be petitioned to reclassify the drug, though, it has to clear extensive study and trials, which can take more than five years, the researchers wrote.

The analysis was published in the October print issue of Neuropharmacology, a medical journal focused on neuroscience.

The study comes as many Americans shift their attitudes toward the use of some illegal drugs. The widespread legalization of marijuana has helped demystify drug use, with many people now recognizing the medicinal benefits for those with anxiety, arthritis and other physical ailments.

Psychedelics, like LSD and psilocybin, are illegal and not approved for medical or recreational use. But in recent years scientists and consumers have begun rethinking their use to combat depression and anxiety.

“We are seeing a demographic shift, particularly among women,” said Matthew Johnson, an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Johns Hopkins and one of the study’s authors. Among the research he has conducted, he said, “we’ve had more females in our studies.”

Microdosing, or the use of psychedelics in small, managed doses, has become a popular way to try to increase productivity and creative thinking, particularly among the technorati in Silicon Valley. It’s even a plot point in the CBS show “The Good Fight.”

Dr. Johnson said that in 2005, he volunteered to work in the “bad trip” tent at Burning Man, the festival in the Nevada desert known for rampant drug use.

For decades, though, researchers have shunned the study of psychedelics. “In the 1960s, they were on the cutting edge of neuroscience research and understanding how the brain worked,” Dr. Johnson said. “But then it got out of the lab.”

Research stopped, in part, because the use of mind-altering drugs like LSD and mushrooms became a hallmark of hippie counterculture.

The researchers who conducted the new study included Roland R. Griffiths, a professor in the departments of psychiatry and neurosciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, who is one of the most prominent researchers on the behavioral and subjective effects of mood-altering drugs. The researchers reviewed data going back to the 1940s.

Dr. Johnson said that the F.D.A. had approved a number of trials of psilocybin. If its use is approved for patients, he said, “I see this as a new era in medicine.”

He added, “The data suggests that psychedelics are powerful behavioral agents.” In legal studies, he said, participants are given a capsule with synthetic psilocybin. (They are not given mushrooms to eat, which is how the drug is most often ingested.)

He warned, though, that psilocybin is not a panacea for everyone. In their analysis, the researchers have called for strict controls on its use. There are areas of risk, too, for patients with psychotic disorders, and anyone who takes high doses of the drug.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/03/science/magic-mushrooms-psilocybin-scheduleiv.html
 
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How psilocybin could become the next legalized drug

by Sarah Rense | Feb 5, 2019

In Colorado and Oregon, efforts are already underway to get magic mushrooms on the ballot.

2019 could be the Year of the Magic Mushroom. In Colorado and Oregon, efforts are currently underway to get voters acquainted with and in support of psilocybin. Research has begun, and FDA has registered its interest.

You can draw comparisons between growing support for psilocybin and the push for recreational marijuana. Both are considered highly dangerous by the federal government, although scientific research and anecdotal evidence indicate otherwise. Both could have fascinating and potentially life-changing medical uses, and the stigma around each is being challenged. However, advocates for psilocybin acknowledge that it is a more complex and less understood substance than cannabis. (And that's not to mention the risk of experiencing an excruciatingly bad trip.) With that in mind, their efforts hinge on decriminalization and regulated medical use, not full legalization.

Marijuana, which has been voted into legalization in 10 states plus D.C., might be light-years ahead, but psilocybin seems to be the next illicit drug in line to take on the legalization battle. As that conversation amps up, here's what you need to know about psylocybin in 2019.

Why is psilocybin illegal?

Psilocybin is a Schedule I drug. That means the federal government thinks it has a high risk of abuse with no known medical benefit. It is 100 percent illegal, and possessing it is a felony offense. However, last year, researchers from Johns Hopkins University made headlines when they recommended that the FDA reclassify psilocybin as a Schedule IV drug, alongside drugs like Xanax and Tramadol that have a low risk for abuse. The researchers also said that psilocybin could have therapeutic benefits, which we'll only discover if more research is conducted.

What does current research suggest about psilocybin?

In late 2018, the FDA reviewed the work of a medical company experimenting with psilocybin to treat depression and upgraded the psychedelic to "breakthrough therapy" status, meaning the FDA acknowledged its potential and vowed to expedite its review process. That's a big deal, because past and present research has shown that psilocybin could be the mother-lode when it comes to treating mental disorders. One study showed a single dose of psilocybin could assist cancer patients in combating anxiety and dark moods. Psilocybin could help users kick drug, alcohol, and nicotine addictions, according to another batch of studies. Research on the use of psychedelics (including psilocybin) to treat depression and anxiety has been very promising.

In other words, psilocybin has the FDA's initial stamp of approval, and researchers are eager to further unpack its medical benefits. Even the practice of micro-dosing shrooms, LSD, and other psychedelics is creeping into the mainstream.

What's happening in Oregon and Colorado?

This brings us to current grassroots efforts to get psilocybin ballot initiatives in front of voters in Colorado and Oregon.

In Colorado, the movement is limited to the city of Denver, which decriminalized marijuana in 2005. Advocates for decriminalizing psilocybin say they have collected enough signatures to make the May 7, 2019 municipal ballot. To make the ballot, 4,726 verified signatures were required; the Decriminalize Denver campaign said it turned in that many and then some. On February 1, the Denver Elections Division confirmed Denver residents will vote this spring on an initiative to make the use of psilocybin for adults 21 and older the "city's lowest law-enforcement priority." It would allow adults 21 and older to possess and grow mushrooms, but retail sales would be prohibited.

In Oregon, advocates are calling for reduced criminal penalties for using and possessing illegal psilocybin, as well as the legalization of its use by adults 21 and over when supervised by a licensed facilitator. That would open the door for psilocybin medical treatments when approved by a physician. The Oregon PSI 2020 campaign said it needs to collect 140,000 valid signatures to get its initiative on the 2020 state-wide ballot; it started collecting signatures in December.

In California, a statewide initiative to decriminalize psilocybin failed to get enough signatures to make the 2018 ballot. Oddly, a 2005 court case ruled that growing psychedelic mushrooms is not illegal in the state of New Mexico. However, altering them—i.e. drying them out—and selling them is illegal.

What is it like to take psilocybin?

Everyone's personal journey with psilocybin is unique. But for a highly detailed account of one man's magic mushroom trip, check out Michael Pollan's 2018 book How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence.

https://www.esquire.com/lifestyle/health/a25794550/psilocybin-mushrooms-legalization-medical-use/
 
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Birth of a legal psilocybin center

by Wesley Thoricatha | Psychedelic Times | Jan 7, 2020

As psilocybin decriminalization is making headlines across the US and MDMA is nearing the finish line for FDA approval, many people are excited about the prospect of legal psychedelic retreats where people can have a safe and well-facilitated psychedelic experience without having to break the law. In the Netherlands, psilocybin-containing truffles have been legal and widely available for a long time, and legal psilocybin centers are starting to crop up offering what folks in the US are fighting to make possible—safe, legal, and professional spaces for healing psychedelic experiences.

Martijn Schirp is the founder and Executive Director of Synthesis, a legal psilocybin center in Amsterdam that has partnered with both Imperial College London and the California Institute of Integral Studies. We spoke with Martijn about the genesis of Synthesis, the importance of psychedelic neuroscience, and why they have chosen to cater to professionals and offer the highest quality of safety and care possible.

Thanks for taking the time to speak with us, Martjin. To start out, why don’t you give a brief overview of how Synthesis came to be.

My background is in interdisciplinary science and philosophy, and I’ve been an entrepreneur for the last 10 or 12 years. I co-founded and ran a blog and media company called High Existence where we covered topics like meditation, philosophy and science.

Before that, when I just got out of high school, I became a professional poker player with a poker coaching business, which was great, but it was very connected with a materialistic lifestyle and worldview. After a while, the lack of meaning in just creating more money and not offering any value back to the world kind of ate at me. I ended up getting quite sick, existentially confused, and I never really dealt with some of the past trauma and other things that happened in my family when I was younger. So I started this quest after poker to discover what was wrong with me and figure out how I could get better. Meditation and psychedelics came up multiple times, so I started traveling to meditation retreats and doing psychedelic ceremonies all over the world.

Psychedelics helped me connect with my emotions and my family history, and I realized how much I didn’t learn when I grew up about what makes life valuable, and what it’s like to be a good human being, how deeply interconnected life is. I started writing about that for High Existence and that kind of blew up over time. I developed retreats there called Apotheosis and created different courses to help people live a more meaningful life and have a more connected existence.

Then about two years ago at Breaking Convention in London, I was interviewing Dennis McKenna for a podcast. It became very clear in between the lines the he was urging the younger generation to take on leadership roles, and that inspired me to start building the framework and infrastructure to integrate these medicines and sacraments into society—both in a rational and scientific way, and in a way that honors the deep mystical awakenings people have and the indigenous knowledge of the right way to use them.

I’m Dutch, and in the Netherlands you can buy legal psilocybin truffles at “smart shops.” It suddenly clicked for me: “Why not create retreats here?” And so my co-founder and I started a pilot project in April 2018. We did three back-to-back retreats, which was very ambitious—looking back, it was probably too intense. But we got a team together, we made sure there was medical supervision, and we started by handing out the scientific literature around it to educate the people coming on retreat. It was a different way of reaching individuals who normally wouldn’t be exposed to psychedelics.

We were speaking at different business conferences about microdosing, and people would come up to us and ask, “Hey, can this help me? I drink too much.” or “I’m still suffering from this trauma, can psychedelics help?” or “I’m a lawyer and have major bouts with depression and I’ve heard about psychedelics, what is a place you would recommend?” Normally I would recommend them to the ayahuasca underground community that I was part of, and I would often hear “That’s not for me.” It was one or two steps too far. So we started asking what makes people feel comfortable and safe so they can actually open themselves up. And that’s how Synthesis was born.

A few months later, we put on another retreat where we changed a few things based on what we were learning, and it was even better received. We started doing research with Imperial College London and we got really interesting data from that, and then it became clear that somebody had to lead Synthesis full-time. So in August last year, we decided that I would be the executive director moving forward. I quit my CEO role at High Existence and we were approached by a few impact investors who were interested in supporting us, our vision, and psychedelics in general.

We found a venue in the Netherlands, a former church designed for transformational retreat experiences, and we started to hire some of the most competent and high-integrity people that we knew in the psychedelic community, in the Netherlands and the UK. We’ve grown to 24 people full-time now, and in a year have had close to 700 people come through with amazing transformations and healing happening. We have official partnerships with Imperial College London Psychedelic Research Group and with the California Institute of Integral Studies where their students come through to get their practicum hours with us.

Very cool. You guys recently appointed famed psychedelic neuroscientist Dr. Robin Carhart-Harris to your advisory board. I’d love to hear how that came about and how neuroscience can help to shape the offerings that you provide.

We’ve been working with the Imperial team for over a year, and they have really shined with integrity and passion, so we are very happy to be working more and more with them. Robin has been critical in advising us on how to set up the studies we’ve been doing to measure the outcomes of our programs. Over time, it made sense for us to have that direct line to him on a permanent basis, as well as to show the community that we have the support of someone who has done pioneering work in this field and on the neuroscience behind it.

Many people are hearing about psychedelics and think they might work for them, but they are on the fence because it is a big unknown. They want to know if it is safe and what will happen in their brain and what long term changes to expect. I don’t know anyone better than Robin to reassure them and answer those questions. And beyond the neuroscience, he also oversees depression and nature-relatedness studies, and we’d love to better understand what happens to individuals before and after doing a retreat.

Other than the retreat itself, do you bookend the experience with preparation and integration coaching or activities?

When you first apply, you fill out an application and go through a very extensive medical check, and that’s for us to know your medical history and what kind of medications you use and make sure it’s really safe. Right now, unfortunately, we have to say “No” to 40% of all people who apply, and that’s simply because A) we don’t have enough information to ensure safety, and B) we haven’t built the infrastructure yet to help the more high-risk individuals. So that’s something we’re working on—to include more people, but in a very safe way. One misstep happening could set back this whole space significantly, so we take that responsibility very seriously.

Once a person is approved by the medical screener, the first step is to jump on a call for about 45 minutes, and that’s for us to really understand who you are, what are your hopes and expectations, what kind of preparation work you’ve already done, and what kind of spiritual practice or therapy you are involved in. It’s really important for us to learn that potential participants are ready for retreat. Mis-timing a psychedelic experience is not a good thing. If your expectations are too high, it’s not a good thing. If we have trouble building rapport, it’s probably not a good thing. We also want to know if they have a community and support network that they can go to afterwards. It all depends on the individual of course. If you’re really high-functioning with very few issues, less checks and balances are needed, but for some of the more vulnerable population, we have to make sure that this is a good idea for them.

We share many kinds of preparation documents beforehand, with reading, listening and watching material. We encourage journaling practices, meditation, breathwork, long walks in nature, and finding creative ways to connect with yourself, your community, and nature. The more work you can do beforehand, the less anxiety you will have on retreat, and the more you can surrender willingly and courageously to confront some of the shadow aspects that might come up.

That’s all happening before our retreats, and then on retreat there are group workshops and one-on-one conversations with the lead facilitator, so participants can share intentions in a group and also in privacy and in confidence. The first day is all about preparation, and then later days include the ceremonies themselves and the integration afterwards.

After a retreat is over, we always make ourselves available for people to reach out to us. There’s an integration group call that checks in with everyone and lets people share what is coming up for them and what might be challenging. If they need any additional help, we have a network of psychedelic-friendly doctors and therapists that we can refer people to.

I’m curious why you decided to focus on treating professionals. What led to that decision?

It became very clear in the beginning that to follow the standards we feel are necessary for safety, it was going to be very costly. For example, on our medical check and intake calls we spend around 350 euros per person. Professionals have the most disposable income, so we’re targeting that population first in order for us to build an infrastructure that can scale over time.

Our aim is to reduce costs in the long run, but we’re still far removed from that. If you compare us to other treatment models and other costs that normally get paired with mental disorders, we’re actually relatively cheap. There are no insurance companies yet that are willing to reimburse people for this, but we expect that to change in the future.

That makes sense—if you want to provide the very highest standard of safety and quality, you need to target people who can afford it. It’s kind of like the Tesla model of starting with the expensive Roadster and working backwards to the Model 3.

Exactly, and I think every car should be electric, but you know, it’s just not a reality off the bat, so you need to start somewhere. I know we’re on the more expensive end, but we do have scholarships available and offer discounts up to 50%, sometimes even 100% in certain cases if people come through clinical studies and they need ongoing psychedelic assisted care and can’t get it anywhere else.

We are aiming for high-end, high-quality first. I look at some of the other players in this field in the Netherlands who are already undercutting each other on price—then quality drops, people are burned out, and that leads to worse outcomes. Yes, it’s cheaper financially, but the risks go up significantly and that in the end will cost us more. But the eventual aim is to have this form of healing available universally.

To learn more about the legal psilocybin center Synthesis, visit their website here.

 
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Magic mushrooms may soon be legal in Canada for terminally ill persons

by Kevin Griffin

A counsellor in Victoria is part of a team that wants to use the psychedelic substance psilocybin to treat a condition called end-of-life distress when someone suffers from a combination of anxiety, depression and demoralization.

Bruce Tobin said that there are about 3,000 people with a terminal illness across the country whose end-of-life-distress is so severe that traditional treatments have been unable to alleviate it.

“We are being very restrictive about the clients we are seeking to treat,” he said. “We’re only seeking to treat those for whom all other treatments have failed. There is now growing scientific evidence that this is likely to be effective for them.”

On Tuesday, Tobin was part of an application to Health Canada seeking a Section 56 exemption to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. The exemption allows researchers, including physicians, veterinarians and others affiliated with universities and private industry, to use a controlled substance. Psilocybin is a controlled drug under Schedule III of the act.

Tobin is a registered clinical counsellor who practises psychotherapy. He leads a clinical team that includes two doctors, two psychologists, two registered clinical counsellors and a nurse/pastoral counsellor. All have received specialized training in psychedelic medicine.

Tobin said he wants to see psilocybin used to treat patients who “have nothing left to lose and who are in abject pain.” He said his team would use pharmaceutical grade psilocybin, not ‘magic mushrooms’ whose active ingredient is psilocybin.

“The effects from the synthetic psilocybin, as far as I know, are indistinguishable from the effects of organic mushrooms,” he said by phone from a town south of La Paz in Baja, Mexico. “There are certainly perceptual, cognitive and emotional changes that a person experiences while under the effects of psilocybin. It is precisely those changes that result in a kind of re-evaluation of their life situation."

“They gain new insights and perspectives on their life and its meaning and their relationships. It helps them reframe their understanding of their impending death and leads, in a vast majority of cases, to a much deeper acceptance of death as a part of life and an understanding that even though they’re dying that basically, everything is OK.”


Recent studies, he said, have shown that treatment with psilocybin produces large decreases in depression and anxiety, along with increases in quality of life, life meaning and optimism.

In one study, a six-month followup after treatment showed that about 80 per cent continued to show clinically significant decreases in depressed mood and anxiety.

He said psilocybin would be used in association with psychotherapy that includes screening, assessment, preparation and followup.

Tobin said if Health Canada denies the application, then his team is prepared to challenge the decision in court using the same kind of Charter arguments used for medical cannabis.

In 35 years of treating anxiety and depression, Tobin said he’s seen little improvement in the effectiveness of medications despite all the billions of dollars spent on developing them.

“Psilocybin promises to be a game-changer,” he said in a news release. “Medicines such as this may well soon revolutionize not only palliative and hospice care, but psychotherapy and psychiatry in general.”

https://vancouversun.com/health/loc...-to-approve-psilocybin-to-treat-death-anxiety
 
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Most Oregon voters favor legalizing psilocybin in 2020 election

by Michelle Lyon

Oregon could be the first state in the US to legalize psilocybin mushrooms.

In November 2018 Oregon’s secretary of state approved language for a ballot initiative that would legalize psilocybin mushrooms. More specifically, the measure would allow licensed professionals to produce, possess and administer psilocybin for guided therapy sessions. It would also reduce criminal penalties for psilocybin related offences.

Patrons must gather 112,200 signatures before July 2, 2020, in order to add the initiative to the 2020 Oregon ballot. A recent poll shows that a majority of Oregon voters support the measure when the two primary elements were clarified. According to the poll, 64% of Oregon voters support lawful access to therapeutic psilocybin services. 55% support reducing existing criminal penalties for possessing psilocybin mushrooms.

The driving force behind the initiative is the Oregon Psilocybin Society (OPS). Chief petitioners, Tom and Sheri Eckert, are both therapists cognizant of how life-changing psilocybin can be for patients suffering from addictions and mental disorders.

“These early numbers show that the campaign is viable and the possibility of success is real, but we have our work cut out for us.” Says Tom Eckert.

Sheri Eckert adds, “support rises significantly when people know what is actually in the measure, which means that educating the public is critical.”

The society explains,

A growing body of evidence demonstrates that psilocybin assisted therapy is safe and uniquely effective. We think that this novel approach could help alleviate the mental health crisis here in Oregon by addressing costly epidemics like suicide, treatment-resistant depression and anxiety, PTSD, and addiction to drugs, alcohol, and nicotine. Additionally, the measure would open doors for new research, create access to services for those interested in personal development, and reduce penalties for common possession of psilocybin.

The intent of the 2020 Psilocybin Service initiative of Oregon is to advance a breakthrough therapeutic model currently being perfected in research settings at top universities around the world. The service model involves a sequence of facilitated sessions, including assessment and preparation, psilocybin administration, and integration afterwards. We envision a community based framework, where licensed providers, along with licensed producers of psilocybin mushrooms, blaze trails in Oregon in accordance with evolving practice standards.


Psilocybin is currently classified in the same category as heroin, a schedule 1 drug (a dangerous substance with high potential for abuse and no known medical potential) and possession alone is a felony nationwide.

Although current research corroborates that psilocybin is a safe and efficacious treatment for many disorders, it must clear phase III clinical trials (which takes years) before the Food and Drug Administration can be petitioned to reclassify.

Similar local efforts to make psilocybin accessible to those in need are currently underway in Denver and Iowa.

http://reset.me/story/most-oregon-voters-favor-legalizing-psilocybin-mushrooms-in-2020-election/
 
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Denver poised to becomes the first US city to decriminalize psychedelic mushrooms

by German Lopez at Vox | Apr 17, 2019

Denver is now voting on whether it should become the first US city to effectively decriminalize mushrooms containing the psychedelic psilocybin — also known as magic mushrooms.

Initiative 301 would designate “the personal use and personal possession of psilocybin mushrooms” among people 21 and older as Denver’s lowest possible law enforcement priority, and prohibit the city from spending resources to pursue criminal penalties related to the use or possession of psilocybin mushrooms among people 21 and older.

It would also “establish the psilocybin mushroom policy review panel to assess and report on the effects of the ordinance.”

The initiative would not legalize magic mushrooms; they’d remain illegal under state and federal law. And it wouldn’t decriminalize or deprioritize the distribution and sales of psilocybin mushrooms — all of that could still be pursued by police.

Ballots containing the initiative were sent out Monday, Kyle Jaeger reported for Marijuana Moment.

Advocates for the measure argue that decriminalization would shift law enforcement resources away from pursuing nonviolent offenses. They claim that psilocybin is safe, nonaddictive or close to nonaddictive, and that a growing body of evidence suggests the drug has therapeutic benefits for illnesses ranging from depression to end-of-life anxiety to addiction.

Opponents worry that decriminalization could lead to more drug use. Especially in Denver, they’re concerned that decriminalization could perpetuate the city’s reputation as “a drug-friendly city,” Jackson Barnett reported for the Denver Post. Critics also point out psilocybin does have some risks — particularly, experts say, the possibility of accidents and traumatic experiences that can be psychologically damaging (especially among people predisposed to mental illness).

One potential source of real-world evidence here: Portugal. After the country decriminalized all drugs, it saw a decrease in drug-related deaths and drops in reported past-year and past-month drug use, according to a 2014 report from the Transform Drug Policy Foundation. But it also saw an increase in lifetime prevalence of drug use, as well as an uptick in reported use among teens after 2007.

But Portugal also simultaneously adopted special commissions that attempt to link people with drug addictions to treatment. Although the success of the commissions has yet to be thoroughly evaluated, it’s possible that even as decriminalization increased drug use, the commissions and more access to treatment got so many people off drugs that drug use still fell overall.

Still, decriminalization alone may have its benefits. A 2009 report from the libertarian Cato Institute, written by Glenn Greenwald, concluded that decriminalization freed people from the “fear of arrest” when they sought help for their addiction and “freed up resources that could be channeled into treatment and other harm reduction programs.”

What effects psilocybin decriminalization would have in the US, Colorado, or Denver, however, remains to be seen. Even more so than marijuana legalization, this is an area of policy that’s largely untested in modern America.

This kind of pioneering vote isn’t new for Denver or Colorado as a whole. In 2012, Colorado and Washington state became the first two states to legalize marijuana for recreational use.

Other places, particularly Oregon, are considering measures to change their laws regarding psilocybin as well.

But in Denver, voters will make the final choice on their own ballot initiative by the end of May 7 — and could make their city the first to decriminalize magic mushrooms.

 
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Activists plan initiative to decriminalize psychedelic drugs in Oakland

by Kyle Jaeger | March 18, 2019

Another major U.S. city could see an initiative to decriminalize psychedelics on the ballot, as activists prepare to launch a campaign to broadly overhaul drug laws in Oakland, California.

According to an Meetup post, a coalition of advocacy groups is hosting a series of educational rallies over the next few months designed build support for a proposed initiative to decriminalize not only psilocybin mushrooms but all “entheogenic plants, fungi and natural sources.”

Examples of substances that’d fall under that category include “mushrooms, cacti, iboga containing plants and/or extracted combinations of plants similar to ayahuasca,” the announcement says, though they’d be limited to substances that contain “indole amines, tryptamines and phenethylamines.”

“With your help we can make this happen, but we need everybody’s support. Join the movement to restore our relationship to nature and advocate for our inalienable right to cognitive liberty and the freedom to explore our own consciousness.”

“Wouldn’t it be nice to have the freedom to work with these ancient sacred medicines that offer direct knowledge without the fear of persecution?”
the Meetup post asks. “Wouldn’t it be nice to address the set and setting elephant in the room – to reduce the immediate fear of persecution involved while engaging our right to access natural healing and insight – by decriminalizing entheogenic plants and fungi?”

Details about the proposed initiative are so far scarce, and a representative from Decriminalize Nature told Marijuana Moment that the group hoped to share more information in coming weeks but that leaders are currently busy organizing for the educational events.

“We would love to share a little more about our initiative and vision,” the representative said, referring to the date of the first in a series of four scheduled meetings.

The Meetup post says that the measure is inspired by ongoing efforts to decriminalize and legalize psilocybin for medical purposes in Denver and Oregon, respectively.

In Denver, activists successfully gathered enough signatures to qualify for the May 7 ballot. Their initiative would make possession, personal consumption and cultivation of psilocybin “the city’s lowest law-enforcement priority” for adults 21 and older. It would also prohibit the city government from using funds to impose criminal penalties against adults for low-level psilocybin offenses.

Organizers in Oregon are working to collect enough signatures to qualify a measure for the state’s 2020 ballot that would allow medical professionals to administer psilocybin for medical purposes and otherwise reduce penalties for the cultivating or possessing the substance.

Interest in expanding drug reform efforts beyond marijuana and changing laws around psychedelics seems to be growing. Besides the psilocybin ballot initiatives, a freshman Republican lawmaker in Iowa introduced a first-of-its-kind bill last month that would legalize psilocybin, MDMA and ibogaine for medical purposes.

 
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Growing movement to loosen laws, treat psilocybin as medicine

by Esther Honig | April 29, 2019

Douglas rattles around a collection of glass jars in the storage closet of his Denver apartment. They’re filled with a small grain, like barley, and covered in a soft white fungus — a mushroom spawn. Soon, he’ll transplant it in large plastic bins filled nutrients like dried manure and coconut fiber.

Over the course of two weeks, mushrooms that naturally contain psilocybin, a psychoactive ingredient, will sprout.

“I mean it’s a relatively quiet thing to do. There’s just lots of waiting,” said Douglas, which is his middle name. He didn’t want to be identified because this is an illegal grow-and-sell operation; psychedelic mushrooms were federally banned in 1970, along with several other hallucinogens.

“Mushrooms are really easy going, especially psilocybin,” he said. “They kind of just grow themselves.”

Denver is at the forefront of a national movement that seeks access these mushrooms, largely for medicinal use. On May 7, voters will have the chance to decriminalize them. And while that may sound ambitious, a campaign in Oregon is gathering signatures for a 2020 election and seeks to legalize mushrooms with a medical prescription for use in approved clinics.

In Iowa, Republican lawmaker Jeff Shipley recently proposed two bills; one removing psilocybin from the state’s list of controlled substances and the other legalizing it for medical use. And last year’s effort in California did not get enough signatures to qualify for the ballot.

For Douglas, it’s a sign that change is on the horizon, one that could have implications for his business, which he said he runs for the supplemental income but also because he believes it’s beneficial.

“Cultivating psilocybin and offering medicine to people to change their lives, that will be my mission, or my way of serving others,” he said.

With his DIY setup of glass jars, large plastic bins and a pressure cooker for sterilization, Douglas can grow up to $1,000 of mushrooms a month. He learned how to do this thanks to internet videos. He purchased his first mushroom spores online and received them in the mail; companies legally are allowed to sell them since they don’t contain psilocybin.

If the Denver ballot measure passes, adults 21 and older who are caught with psilocybin mushrooms, or even growing them for personal use, would become the lowest priority for local police. Plus, the city and county of Denver would be barred from spending any money to prosecute psilocybin cases.

The notion that state laws around mushrooms could be loosened up, much like they have been for cannabis, is not without controversy. Matthew Johnson has spent the last 15 years researching psychedelics at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. He said decriminalization of illegal drugs is generally a good thing, but he wouldn't support policy that encourages people to use psilocybin.

“This therapy needs to be done by appropriately trained and credentialed medical and psychological professionals,” he said.

Research strongly suggests that psilocybin is not addictive, causes few ER visits compared to other illegal drugs and could be used to treat a whole host of ailments, like depression. And while Johnson believes psilocybin could one day become a groundbreaking treatment, he’s emphatic about the potential risks involved.

“The most common side effect is the so-called 'bad trip,'" he said. “It can be well-managed in a medical, research setting but that sometimes leads to dangerous behavior when out in the wild.”

Under the influence of psilocybin, people can panic and put themselves in unsafe situations; there have been fatalities.

Johnson said he thinks that, in as few as five years, research on psilocybin will lead to the first medication approved by the Federal Drug Administration. Once that happens, the government will have to remove it as a Schedule 1 drug, and regulate it like any other pharmaceutical.

Until then, Deanne Reuter with the DEA’s Denver office said the agency will continue prosecuting cases of psilocybin.

“Any controlled substance is a concern,” she said. “It’s obviously on a Schedule 1 for a reason.”

Reuter admits they don’t see many cases of psilocybin trafficking. Typically, they’ll bust a drug dealer carrying several types of narcotics, including mushrooms.

“The trafficking of psilocybin seems to be like a small, niche kind of community,” she said.

Douglas would agree. He has little competition and knows most of the people he sells his product to. Still, he knows the work he does it risky.

“With decriminalization and stuff I can operate a little bit more freely, have to worry less,” he said.

If the Denver ballot measure passes, it wouldn’t protect someone like him, who’s selling mushrooms for profit. Still, he said it’d be a step closer to a future where he can freely provide people with something he believes in.

 
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Denver voters approve measure to decriminalize psychedelic mushrooms

by Tom Angell | Forbes | May 9, 2019

Voters in Denver, Colorado made their city the first in the U.S. to decriminalize psychedelic mushrooms by approving a ballot measure on the issue on Tuesday.

The measure, which was behind in early returns on election night but edged closer with each new batch of ballots counted, ended up pulling ahead with a 51 percent to 49 percent margin in the final unofficial results posted on Wednesday afternoon.

Its provisions prohibit the city government from using any resources to impose criminal penalties against adults over 21 years of age for personal use and possession of psilocybin, the active ingredient in so-called "magic mushrooms."

Initiative 301 also specifies that going after people for the mushrooms is the city's “lowest law enforcement priority” and establishes a review panel to assess and report on the effects of the change by early 2021.

This was a thrilling race to follow. All throughout yesterday news outlets were running stories saying that the measure had been defeated, but that was with ~40k votes still remaining to be tallied.

Even though the vote occurred on Tuesday, the last votes weren’t counted until 5PM (Mountain Time) on Wednesday, at which point it was announced that the measure had in fact passed after all—by a thin margin of ~2000 votes.

The Denver Elections Division still needs to verify the final tally, so the official approval of this measure won’t be granted until May 16th. Assuming it goes off without a hitch, Denver will become the first city in the nation to have decriminalized psilocybin mushrooms via ballot initiative. However, it technically won’t be the first place in America where psychedelic fungi are decriminalized—courts in New Mexico and Louisiana previously ruled in favor of allowing the cultivation of psilocybin mushrooms. Up next are Oregon and California, where there are movements hoping to pass their own psilocybin policy reform ballot measures next year.

Regardless of who was first and who will be next, Denver residents should soon be able to possess, use, and grow psilocybin mushrooms without any fear of being criminally charged. This victory is a huge step forward in the fight to reform laws concerning psychedelic drugs and it should be celebrated (in proper fashion, hopefully) by psychonauts everywhere.

 
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