Will the decriminalization of magic mushrooms follow recreational cannabis legalization in California?
That will certainly be the case if a mayoral candidate in the city of Marina – just south of the San Francisco Bay – gets his way.
Kevin Saunders has filed a proposal that would decriminalize the possession, cultivation, transportation, and selling of psychedelic psilocybin mushrooms for those over the age of 21.
Saunders and his fiancée Kitty Merchant – who co-authored the proposal – need to gather 365,880 voter signatures by the end of April 2018 in order to get the Psilocybin Legalization Initiative placed on the statewide ballot.
Saunders hopes Californians get on board with the initiative as he believes the drug could help people with a range of medical issues.
“It [psilocybin] deflates the ego and strips down your own walls and defences and allows you to look at yourself in a different light,” he said.
“It could allow people to figure out what to do and could revolutionise the way we treat those with depression, addiction and cluster headaches.”
Saunders said magic mushrooms helped him conquer a “debilitating five-year heroin addiction” in 2003, when he was 32.
“I got to the root of why I made a conscious decision to become a heroin addict; I’ve been clean almost 15 years.”
Saunders believes California – one of eight states where voters have legalized recreational cannabis – has “learned a lot from marijuana and we are ready as a society.” Both cannabis and magic mushrooms are included on the federal government’s list of Schedule I drugs.
Earlier this year, husband-and-wife team Tom and Sheri Eckhert launched an initiative to legalize magic mushrooms in Oregon. The couple is aiming to get their measure – which would allow people to take the drug only in licensed centres with a certified facilitator present – on the 2020 ballot.
Several recent clinical trials have found that psychedelic mushrooms can be used to successfully treat severe depression, anxiety and addiction.
“Depression is such a major problem and it’s not being treated effectively at the moment. A lot of patients aren’t seeing results with traditional antidepressants,” said Robin Carhart-Harris, who has been studying psilocybin as a treatment for depression at Imperial College London.
He believes psilocybin could be a legal medicine within the next five years, but adds that legalization will only take place once final phase 3 clinical trails are completed and the drug is approved by the FDA and the European Medicines Agency.
Last year’s Global Drug Survey determined that magic mushrooms were the safest of all the drugs when it comes to the number of people who need emergency medical treatment. The head of the organization presses, however, that magic mushrooms aren’t risk-free.
“They are drugs with very low toxicity and very low abuse potential,” said psychiatrist and Global Drug Survey founder Adam Winstock.
“The only difference being the potential for mushrooms to distort your perceptions, cognition, emotions in a way that is totally outside of most people’s [reality] of normal experience. For a minority of people, taken in the wrong situation, that could be terrifying.”
h/t The Guardian