It’s been a whirlwind rise for psychedelics in general in the past few years, with tons of research into medical properties, and new legal policies being set in different parts of the country to allow medical use, or decriminalize recreational use. What’s in store for this class of drugs? Here are my 2022 predictions for psychedelics.
My 2022 predictions for psychedelics are mainly that the industry will grow more with steps toward legalization, which is the same for the cannabis industry, which should also see growth in many ways in 2022. This can already be seen in the new cannabinoids industry, which allows the sale of compounds outside of regulation, and outside of dispensaries. For more articles like this one, remember to subscribe to the our Psychedelics Weekly Newsletter, your top source for everything related to this growing industry.
What are psychedelics?
Psychedelics are a subset of hallucinogenic drugs, which are themselves a subset of psychoactive drugs. Psychedelics can be naturally occurring like magic mushrooms or DMT, or made in a lab like LSD and ketamine. Either way, these compounds are specifically related to producing hallucinations, wherein a user experiences a sensation (hearing, seeing, feeling, tasting, smelling) of something that is not there.
Along with hallucinations, these drugs are known for inciting spiritual experiences in users; bringing on feelings of connectedness between users, and between users and the universe at large; stimulating feelings of euphoria, and wellbeing; and causing alterations in perception, mood, and cognitive function. Users have throughout time reported life-changing experiences regarding life and consciousness when on these drugs.
While psychedelics are generally safe, with no actual death or disability count directly related, there is one aspect to be wary of: the bad trip. In a bad trip, a user can experience negative – even frightening, hallucinations, and have physical symptoms like anxiety, nausea, erratic heartbeat, vomiting, chills, dizziness, paranoia, and raised blood pressure. This seems to be a big aspect of dosing, with correct dosing, or the use of micro-doses, eliminating the majority of these problem. People more sensitive to these drugs might want to try in smaller quantities.
The illegalization of psychedelics
Psychedelics gained momentum in the mid-1900’s after LSD was synthesized by Albert Hofmann in 1938 (but more formally realized in 1943), in Sandoz laboratories in Switzerland. This set off a cascade of LSD products being sold throughout the world. By the 1950’s it had been adopted by the world of psychiatry, with over 10,000 studies published between 1943-1970 according to the Oxford Press. LSD was the basis for the Saskatchewan trials in Canada led by Humphrey Osmond and Abram Hoffer, where it was shown to help alcoholics quit the juice. It was also big in England, where Ronald Sandison showed the benefit of LSD with psychoneurotic patients.
All of this ended by the late 1960’s when the US forged a campaign against psychedelics, likely in response to the unpopular Vietnam was, as a way of targeting counter-culture folks who were known for peace-loving and draft-dodging. This was done in the US with the Staggers-Dodd bill in 1968 followed by the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act in 1970. It was done in England through the 1973 Misuse of Drugs Act. The Convention on Psychotropic Substances in 1971 made psychedelic compounds illegal globally.
How do we know about drug smear campaigns in relation to the war and racism? In 1994, John Ehrlichman, the Assistant to the President for Domestic Affairs under President Nixon, released this statement:
“The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”
My 2022 predictions for psychedelics
The class of psychedelics is gaining momentum, possibly inspired by the success of the cannabis industry, and its ability to change perceptions about the plant in the last couple decades. There’s a lot going on in the industry, so here are my 2022 predictions for what can be expected with psychedelics.
- More states, cities, and individual locations will continue to pass laws like Oregon and Detroit to decriminalize recreational use, or legalize medical markets. These may be done through ballot measures during elections, or made as legislation by local governments.
- In terms of ketamine, this might be the biggest standout of 2022. Ketamine clinics are already becoming very popular, which can be seen in the government’s attempt to divert the market to a pharmaceutical one by way of the legalization of esketamine. Esketamine will likely do nothing to stop the ketamine clinic industry, which, since it offers a seemingly better answer to monoamine antidepressants, should take off even further in 2022.
- The tide will continue turning with psychedelics in the mainstream, with more and more people changing tack as they did with cannabis. This will likely be from the growing body of research into positive benefits, with the lack of negative results that were cried about for so long, becoming more obvious.
- Having said this, since the government will badly want to keep a handle on it, there is also likely to be a continuation of smear campaigns aimed at driving fear and confusion into users. This in an effort to point them toward pharmaceutical options, rather than having the masses attempt to obtain these compounds illicitly or grow them on their own.
- My 2022 predictions for the illicit psychedelics market, are that this will grow as well, with tons of illicit online retailers popping up, and a dirty, unregulated industry taking over. This is similar to the current state of affairs in the cannabis industry, exemplified by the unregulated cannabinoids market. This will help drive fear campaigns by targeting stories of seedy operators and adulterated products.
- Magic mushrooms and psilocybin will be another big winner according to my 2022 predictions for psychedelics. As one of the compounds more immediately up for legalization, magic mushrooms also present the situation of being the most cannabis-like drug, in that they can be grown easily at home by users. Not only will magic mushrooms creep closer to a federal medical legalization, but I expect 2022 will see a huge push in home growing of these mushrooms.
- MDMA is the other compound nearing legalization in the states, and 2022 should also be a year of progress for this drug, with further research getting it that much closer to a medical legalization. Though this is unlikely to happen in 2022, by the end of the year we might have a clearer picture of when this can be expected.
- Another of my 2022 predictions for psychedelics is that we’re going to start seeing more legislation being floated in congress for federal legalization measures. This isn’t to say that any will succeed, but by the end of 2022, I expect several different bills for different purposes related to psychedelics, to come up and be discussed.
- Lastly, I believe more politicians will come out openly supporting psychedelics and their uses in 2022. This will likely be on both the medical and recreational fronts, making upcoming legalizations that much more government-accepted.
What is the state of psychedelics currently in the US?
To give an idea of where things are now with psychedelics in the US, here is the basic rundown. Seattle didn’t exactly decriminalize legally, but in October of 2021, the city council unanimously voted on a non-binding resolution meant to discourage law enforcement from going after psychedelics users. It is not, however, a legal mandate. The most recent city to fall legally was Detroit, which decriminalized psychedelic (entheogenic) plants in November 2021 through Proposal E passed by voters.
Other specific locations that have set legal mandates include Denver, Colorado, which was first in 2019; and Oakland and Santa Cruz in California which made their own measures that same year, and the following year respectively. In 2020, An Arbor, Michigan; and Washington DC set decriminalization policies. This was followed by Washtenaw County, Michigan; Somerville, Cambridge, Northampton, and Easthampton in Massachusetts; and Arcata, California in 2021.
Of course, the biggest psychedelics champions right now is Oregon, which was the first state to adopt a statewide policy, with two ballot measures in 2020: Measure 109 – to legalize the medical use of psilocybin, and Measure 110 to decriminalize many drugs statewide. Both measures passed making Oregon the first state to allow legal medical use of a psychedelic, as well as the decriminalization statewide of many recreational drugs.
Two other states did institute lesser policies. On Thursday February, 4th, 2021, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed a law that reclassified magic mushrooms to be a ‘disorderly persons offense’ so long as the amounts don’t go over one ounce. The maximum fine is now $1,000, and the maximum jail sentence is six months. While this pales in comparison to what Oregon did, it does greatly reduce penalties from $15,000 and five years in prison.
Rhode Island, on the other hand, signed into policy on July 7th, 2021, a law that allows for consumption sites for illegal drugs, where they can be accessed safely. This is a two-year pilot program that aims to give medical supervision to drug use, and individual municipalities are charged with authorizing facilities for this to happen. What will happen in the future, or if this will continue after two years, is hard to say, but for now it allows the use of drugs – including psychedelics – in specialized locations, without the threat of arrest.
In the works…
Currently there are two other statewide initiatives to legalize psychedelics. California has been working on the California Psilocybin Legalization Initiative, which is possibly slated to appear on the November 2022 ballot as a referendum, and which seeks to “legalize psilocybin, including psilocybin mushrooms, truffles, sclerotia, and mycelium, in California.” This would allow the “cultivation, manufacture, processing, distribution, transportation, possession, storage, consumption, and retail sale of psilocybin mushrooms.”
Michigan has also made strides in this direction, introducing Senate Bill 631, in September, 2021. This bill floated would legalize psychedelic compounds recreationally statewide, and has been referred to the Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety for further review. The bill would legalize the cultivation, delivery, creation, possession, and communal use of plant-derived recreational psychedelics. This would not allow sales, except in the cases of “counseling, spiritual guidance, or a related service that is provided in conjunction with the use of an entheogenic plant or fungus under the guidance and supervision of an individual providing the service”, in which case a fee can be charged.
Beyond this, while psychedelics are federally illegal, apart from esketamine and DXM (found in cough syrup), both MDMA and psilocybin have been given a ‘breakthrough therapy’ designation by the FDA in reference to research being conducted. Compass Pathways, and Usona Institute won this designation for research into psilocybin for major depression, while the organization MAPS not only got this designation for research into MDMA, but designed its phase three trials in conjunction with the FDA to ensure results meet regulation. Which means a federal government body is pushing for these legalizations.
With everything on the cusp of explosion, 2022 predictions for psychedelics can certainly be blown out of the water easily. It will be an interesting year to watch progress and see what happens, and it could very well be that some unexpected big moves could happen before year’s end.
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Disclaimer: Hi, I’m a researcher and writer. I’m not a doctor, lawyer, or businessperson. All information in my articles is sourced and referenced, and all opinions stated are mine. I am not giving anyone advice, and though I am more than happy to discuss topics, should someone have a further question or concern, they should seek guidance from a relevant professional.