For decades, thanks to misinformation courtesy of the federal war on marijuana, the plant was thought of as a gateway drug – something that made it more likely for users to transition to harder drugs like cocaine or heroin.
This has been disproven, thanks to the hard work of scientists and researchers, but it turns out that marijuana may actually be a kind of gateway after all. California, Oregon, and Colorado have all successfully legalized the recreational use of marijuana and now they're looking forward – toward the possible legalization or decriminalization of psilocybin mushrooms.
The Power of Magic Mushrooms
Most drugs like psilocybin mushrooms and LSD that cause hallucinations are thought of as party drugs – most of them are listed as Schedule 1 by the federal government, meaning they're considered dangerous and have no medical use. Other drugs in that category include marijuana — in spite of its trend toward legalization nationwide — and cocaine and heroin.
Due to this classification, not a lot of research has been done about the potential positive effects of psilocybin until recently. Some studies have found that when pairing psilocybin with therapy, the effects of the drug could be effective at treating people suffering from anxiety, depression, addiction and even cluster headaches.
This research uses psilocybin to supplement therapy. So patients aren't just munching on mushrooms. And because it is still in the beginning stages of research, it won’t be available to the average person just yet, or probably any time soon.
It is a great boon for researchers though. There is still a massive knowledge gap in the medical profession even where medical marijuana is concerned, which leads to many medical professionals refusing to prescribe medical marijuana because that is simply not how they were taught to treat their patients. The trend toward open-mindedness in medicine that could stem from research into psilocybin mushrooms will undoubtedly also be good for the push toward full marijuana legalization across the US.
The Trend Toward Legalization
California may not have been the first state to legalize marijuana, but it is trying to become the first state to legalize, or at least decriminalize, the use, sale, or distribution of psilocybin mushrooms for adults over the age of 21.
This push is being led by Marina mayoral candidate Kevin Saunders, who credits the use of psilocybin mushrooms with saving his life. At 32, he was addicted to heroin. By using psilocybin mushrooms, he claims that he was able to "get to the root" of why he became addicted to heroin in the first place. He credits this experience as the reason why he has been clean for close to 15 years.
While Saunder's petition didn't get enough signatures to allow his psilocybin mushrooms to be legalized in California, he hasn't given up the fight – and his state isn't the only one that is looking into legalizing the shrooms. Oregon's Psilocybin Society is pushing to get legalization on the ballot by 2020, and Denver, Colorado is looking to do something similar, though it would be restricted to the city limits.
21st Century Snake Oil
Not everyone supports the legalization of these mushrooms or the medications that can be produced by them. Scott Chipman, who sits as the chairman of the Citizens Against Legalizing Marijuana group of Southern California, calls psilocybin legalization the "snake oil of the 21st century." His group believes that legalizing things like marijuana and psilocybin will eventually lead to a legalization of all drugs, regardless of how dangerous they are, and create a threat to public health.
This is a common myth that is currently being disproven by countries that have legalized many drugs — if not all drugs, in some cases — and have actually seen drug use and drug-related crimes decrease as a result.
Psilocybin could potentially create game-changing treatments for individuals who suffer from anxiety, addiction and depression – but it may be a while before these drugs are available legally for the average American. The trend toward marijuana legalization may be the gateway that enables states to legalize other drugs that were once thought useless but are proving to be more beneficial than many people would have guessed.
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