Should Magic Mushrooms Be Legal?

“Marijuana is becoming legal in more parts of the country, both medicinally and recreationally. A new group of advocates is following the pot playbook to change laws regarding hallucinogens, specifically magic mushrooms.

A small but growing campaign to legalize magic mushrooms has spread its spores into a handful of spots across the United States. In May, Denver became the first city in the country to decriminalize psilocybin, the active ingredient in hallucinogenic mushrooms. A month later, the Oakland City Council did the same. Under decriminalization, psilocybin is still officially illegal, but city agencies do not enforce laws that ban it.

Under federal law, psilocybin and similar hallucinogens are classified by the U.S. government as Schedule I drugs, substances with “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.”

Why there’s a debate:

Supporters of legalizing magic mushrooms point to evidence that the classification is incorrect on both counts. Recent research suggests psilocybin may be an effective treatment for psychological issues such as depression and anxiety. Magic mushrooms also come with a low risk of addiction, studies suggest. There is some evidence that psilocybin can help people break their addictions to other substances, specifically smoking.

Many of these benefits, some say, are present when users practice “microdosing” — taking a small amount that provides psychological benefits without creating a hallucinogenic effect. Microdosing can improve creativity and focus, practitioners report.

Perspectives

Psilocybin may be a revolutionary treatment for depression

“It’s really unprecedented in medical history to see effects for depression that are caused by a single medication.” — Johns Hopkins University researcher Matthew Johnson to NPR

The drug should be made accessible to certain vulnerable groups

“If Prozac had the effects observed in the best current studies on psychedelics, withholding it from the depressed or dying would be considered a human rights violation as serious as failing, out of spite, to set a broken leg.” — Graeme Wood, Atlantic.

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