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Legalizing Psilocybin?

Updated: Nov 15, 2019

The 19 years since the beginning of the 21st century have brought about a drastic shift in public consciousness concerning scheduled substances, first cannabis, and now psilocybin mushrooms. In May 2019 the city of Denver, Colorado became the first in North America to decriminalize the use of magic mushrooms for anyone 21 and over. Then mere weeks later in June, the city of Oakland followed suite. In mid October, the Chicago City Council introduced a resolution expressing support for advancing the conversation around organically psychoactive plants. Some of these votes were contested and passed by narrow margins, nonetheless this victory for the many people who derive benefit from psilocybin means that residents in these cities no longer have to worry about serving jail time for possessing or using psilocybin mushrooms.


The decisions of these 3 large American cities comes during the residual buzz in the psychedelic community of the U.S. Food & Drug Administration recognizing psilocybin to be a breakthrough therapy for symptoms of depression. It’s also proven useful in treating forms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), OCD, addiction, and anxiety. These are grand claims to purport, a psychedelic "wonder drug". However these statements are backed by solid research at accredited institution, like The Heffter institute, The Usona Institute, John Hopkins University, and MAPS.

Dana Larsen, who founded a medical cannabis dispensary in 2007, announced he was launching a medical psilocybin dispensary in June. The dispensary storefront will be based in Vancouver, plans to open in the coming months, and currently mails psilocybin microdoses to people with a documented medical need; Larsen lists anxiety, cluster headaches, and pain as conditions that can be treated with psilocybin.


Larsen isn't the only one pushing against the Canadian government, a Canadian therapist has asked Health Canada to permit the use of psilocybin, the psychedelic ingredient in magic mushrooms, for medical reasons. If denied, he’s planning to file a lawsuit, claiming the health department’s decision would violate Canadians’ right to “life, liberty, and security of person”—an argument that previously convinced Canadian courts that it is unconstitutional to prohibit medical access to cannabis.


Constitutional challenge is not the only way to legalize medical psilocybin; the more conventional route is to simply conduct enough experiments for the drug to be approved by health authorities. This process is currently ongoing for psilocybin, with a stage three trial (the most advanced necessary for medical approval) underway in North America and Europe on psilocybin as treatment for depression. In October 2018, the US Food and Drug Administration gave the trial “breakthrough therapy designation”, meaning the study will be hastened through the drug-development process, and suggesting the FDA is inclined to approve psilocybin as medication if the stage three results are strong.

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