Oregon just got one step closer toward legalizing psychedelic mushrooms

Oregon just got one step closer toward legalizing psychedelic mushrooms

In America, 33 states have legalized cannabis for medical use, and 10 states have legalized it for recreational use. It's hard to believe this took so long, since alcohol and cigarettes are arguably much more harmful. (According to Politifact, no death from marijuana overdose has ever been recorded.) After years of fear-mongering propaganda, like the ridiculous 1936 film Reefer Madness, Americans shifted their opinion on sticky-icky, realizing it wasn't so dangerous, and actually had medical benefits. (Also, it inspired a lot of great music.)

But forget about weed - Oregon's Secretary of State just approved language for a possible ballot initiative that would legalize psychedelic mushrooms. According to CNN, if organizers can get 117,578 signatures, Oregonians could vote on the initiative in the 2020 general election. It would decriminalize psilocybins - aka magic mushrooms - and allow their licensed manufacturing and administration. Currently, possessing shrooms is considered a felony nationwide.

magic mushrooms Credit: Getty

Psilocybins are a naturally occurring psychedelic prodrug compound found in psychedelic mushrooms. Recently scientists discovered that psilocybin may have health benefits, such as treating anxiety in people with cancer and providing a "miracle cure" for depression. In a paper published in the medical journal Scientific Reports, Dr. Robin Carhart-Harris described how shrooms can 'reset' the brain:

"We have shown for the first time clear changes in brain activity in depressed people treated with psilocybin after failing to respond to conventional treatments Several of our patients described feeling ‘reset’ after the treatment and often used computer analogies. For example, one said he felt like his brain had been ‘defragged’ like a computer hard drive, and another said he felt ‘rebooted'. Psilocybin may be giving these individuals the temporary ‘kick start’ they need to break out of their depressive states and these imaging results do tentatively support a ‘reset’ analogy."

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Currently psilocybin is classified as a Schedule I drug, a category for substances "with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse." More scientific studies may change that classification. Last October, researchers in the medial journal Neuropharmacology argued that the Food and Drug Administration should label psilocybin a Schedule IV drug, a category for substances "with a currently accepted medical use" and "low potential for abuse." (Like Xanax, Darvacet, Valium, etc.)

The writers note that reclassification of psilocybin would take at least five years, because it has to clear extensive tests. Also, they warn that use of magic mushrooms should be strictly controlled, because taking too heavy a dose can be a health risk, especially for those with psychotic disorders.

Well, it'll be interesting to see if legal shrooms become a thing in Oregon. Tom and Sheri Eckert, the leaders of the initiative in Oregon, stress the health benefits of psilocybins on their campaign's website,: "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... 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."