Colorado is a state known for its mold-breaking approaches to illegal things. Several years ago, they voted for marijuana legalization. Today, they claim psilocybin has the right to be legal too. Local activists advocate for magic mushroom rights and say scientific evidence corroborates the idea.
Psilocybin is a compound found in psilocybin mushrooms, which are often called shrooms or magic mushrooms. They got the nickname for being able to induce psychedelic hallucinations. The controversial species is prohibited in most countries, with penalties varying to a significant extent. The global ban on the mushrooms is explained by its effects: not only are they mind-altering, they can also cause panic disorder, hallucinogen persistent perception disorder, etc.
Whatever the mushroom reputation, there are people who believe psilocybin can help treat a variety of diseases. They refer to the growing body of evidence supporting medical use of psilocybin.
The movement in Colorado is led by Tyler Williams, who heads the Denver for Psilocybin group, which has recently laid siege to the Denver City and County building demanding to “free the spores”. They have already discussed the issue with the local authorities.
The activists say proposed fungi decriminalization is backed by the results of research projects carried out in recent years. One of such researches is the one carried out by a team of scientists from Imperial College London. In 2017, they reported that taking psilocybin for one day can help treat depression by reviving emotional responses. In their experiment, the trigger was fearful faces to which the patients’ reaction changed when they started taking psilocybin.
The group leader says his experience proves the findings are not striking, as he’s known for a long time the mushroom can help treat mental health problems. In 2015, he had a suicide attempt, and the compound, as he states, helped him with PSTD. A research conducted in 2013 revealed that psilocybin can potentially be used as part of post-traumatic stress disorder therapy, but more research is needed to find out how it affects the body.
The latest research related to magic mushrooms revealed that taking the compound can lead to lasting changes in attitudes. Thus, those who took psilocybin had their nature-relatedness increased to a significant extent, while their authoritarianism decreased. Some websites went as far as to use the report to back their idea that the government prohibited psilocybin because it makes people less submissive – which is kind of illogical, as people with increased nature-relatedness who are not authoritative are more peaceful and so less likely to defy the authorities.
Psilocybin is reported to be able to ease anxiety and depression in patients suffering from cancer. A John Hopkins group found that a single dose of psilocybin (though a large one) can alleviate the anxiety-related symptoms associated with cancer. The effect can last for up to 6 months. However, it should be noted that it was a small study with only 51 volunteers involved (a similar study was carried out at New York University with 29 participants, and the results of this study were also included in the John Hopkins team report).
Magic mushrooms are a highly controversial thing, and while they can be beneficial to some extent, intake of psilocybin is associated with the risk for panic disorders and other health problems. Magic mushroom legalization is likely to become, if voted for by the Colorado citizens, a double-edged sword, as the medical use will be accompanied by recreational use, and it’s difficult to predict what the implications will be.