Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed a bill into law on May 23 that established a regulatory framework for psychedelic substances.
SB23-290, also called Natural Medicine Regulation and Legalization, was signed just a few weeks after it was approved in the Senate with House amendments. The bill was sponsored by Sen. Steven Fenberg and Rep. Judy Amabile, and is set to take effect starting on July 1.
The Colorado Times Recorder spoke with Tasia Poinsatte, director of the Healing Advocacy Fund of Colorado, last month about the bill’s potential. “Our state is facing a mental health crisis, and our current system has been unable to meet the needs of those who are struggling, including the many veterans in our state who are at a high risk of suicide,” said Poinsatte. “Colorado voters agreed with the passage of Prop. 122 that we need to open new, innovative pathways to healing for those who are struggling with mental health conditions.”
The law doesn’t place limitations on personal possession for any psychedelic substance, ranging from dimethyltryptamine (DMT), mescaline, ibogaine, psilocybin, or psilocin. Psilocybin and psilocin will be administered at “healing centers,” but it does allow other substances to be added later.
The bill also states that anyone under 21 who possesses or consumes a natural medicine product will only be subject to a fine of $100 or less, and a maximum of four hours of “substance use education or counseling.” More than one offense results in the same fine and education requirement, with an added 24 hours of “useful public service.”
The cultivation of natural medicine is permitted if it’s happening on a person’s private property within a 12-by-12-foot space. However, anyone who is not licensed and “knowingly manufactures [a] natural medicine product using an inherently hazardous substance” is committing a level 2 drug felony. An “inherently hazardous substance” refers to solvents such as butane, propane, and diethyl ether.
The bill also includes protections for consumers, stating that a person using a natural medicine doesn’t solely constitute as child abuse or neglect, is not grounds for being denied health coverage, doesn’t disqualify a person to be discriminated against if they’re eligible for organ donation, and “must not be considered for public assistance benefits eligibility.”
A person with a natural medicine conviction is also eligible to have the conviction record sealed “immediately after the later date of final disposition or release from supervision.”
The bill calls for the creation of a natural medicine advisory board to examine “issues related to natural medicine and natural medicine product, and making recommendations to the director of the division of professions and occupations and the executive director of the state licensing authority.” It also requires the creation of a division of natural medicine to be established within the department of revenue to regulate licensing for “cultivation, manufacturing, testing, storage, distribution, transport, transfer, and dispensation of natural medicine or natural medicine product between natural medicine licensees.”
Colorado voters passed Proposition 122, also referred to as the Natural Medicine Health Act, by 52.64% last November to decriminalize psychedelics. “This is a historic moment for both the people of Colorado and our country,” said Natural Medicine Colorado coalition director Kevin Matthews. “I think this demonstrates that voters here in Colorado are ready for new options and another choice for healing, especially when it comes to their mental and behavioral health.”
The initiative took effect in December 2022. “Coloradans voted last November and participated in our democracy,” said Polis. “Officially validating the results of the citizen and referred initiatives is the next formal step in our work to follow the will of the voters and implement these voter-approved measures.”
Coverage from Westword shows that advocates aren’t happy with the law, stating that it’s too restrictive. According to sponsor Amabile, the bill is solid but won’t make everyone happy. “My takeaway from the testimony is that ballot measure 122 is controversial,” Amabile said at a meeting in late April. “It has a lot of aspects that some people like. It has aspects that the people who like some parts of it don’t like. It has parts that nobody likes.”
Over the course of the past two years, TheraPsil has assisted over 130 patients, but it calls the country’s current limitations a “cruel approach” on the part of Health Canada. The organization has attempted to set up a formal meeting with parliament members, but so far has been denied, so it’s taking the conversation straight to the capital to protest between Nov. 28-30.
According to TheraPsil CEO Spencer Hawkswell, there needs to be a proper channel for patients to be able to legally access psilocybin and psilocin. “There is ample evidence of both the safety and efficacy of psilocybin in the treatment of various mental health conditions,” said Hawkswell in a press release. “The previous Minister recognized this and started approving exemptions. Unfortunately, this Minister has stopped and refused to consider reasonable regulations to ensure vulnerable Canadians don’t have to go to Court to access treatment that can improve their quality of life and death.”
Currently, psilocybin and psilocin are listed as a Schedule III substance under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. However, some patients gain legal access with an improved exemption called the Special Access Program.
TheraPsil uses the example of Thomas Hartle, who was diagnosed with cancer in 2016, to demonstrate the problems that patients are encountering. Hartle was one of the first to receive approval from former Health Minister Patty Hajdu to use psilocybin to treat “end-of-life anxiety” in 2020, which was valid for one year. His treatments were successful, and he reapplied for continued access in October 2021, but was denied by current Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos.
“We hope to meet with the Minister to find out why he and his officials are being so cruel to us,” said Hartle in a press statement. “Instead of a compassionate response, Health Canada is referring dying and vulnerable patients to a special access program that results in lots of red tape but no access for most. Many, like me have gone over a year without a response to their urgent requests.”
TheraPsil will be arranging media interviews over the next few days to raise awareness both for the medical benefits that psilocybin offers, as well as the need for improved access. “Mental health is a non-partisan issue,” said palliative care physician Dr. Valorie Masuda. “Reasonable treatment options should be available to Canadians who have the right to MAiD [Medical Assistance in Dying]. It is cruel to withhold medicine from vulnerable patients, especially when those medicines have worked for them.”
TheraPsil also sent a joint letter earlier this month signed by medical practitioners and social workers calling for the need for psilocybin regulations. “We believe that our patients have a right to Medical Psilocybin and this open letter is to demand this right on their behalf. We need a compassionate and immediate response and solution to the Section 56 applications for psilocybin access and seek your response to our proposed request for ‘Access to Psilocybin for Medical Purposes Regulations,’” the letter stated.
Meanwhile in Canada, Apex Labs received a “no objection” letter from Health Canada, which effectively greenlit the first North American study on psilocybin as a treatment for military veterans who suffer from conditions such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. “Veterans are already self-medicating with micro-doses of unregulated psilocybin products without knowing the potency and safety of the product they are consuming,” said Apex Labs CEO Tyler Powell. “Our goal is to expand access to pharmaceutical grade drug products through regulated systems, providing transparency and support for patients in need.”
A new study published in The New England Journal of Medicine on Nov. 3 also provided evidence of the benefits of psilocybin in a double-blind trial. “In this phase 2 trial involving participants with treatment-resistant depression, psilocybin at a single dose of 25 mg, but not 10 mg, reduced depression scores significantly more than a 1-mg dose over a period of 3 weeks but was associated with adverse effects,” the researchers wrote. Those adverse effects included headaches, nausea, dizziness, and suicidal ideation.
While psilocybe is not actually the mother of all magic mushrooms, it is the most popular genus of magic mushrooms, the mushrooms most associated with a psychedelic high. Read on to find out more about these mushrooms, and what the heck is in them.
Psilocybe mushrooms are the most popular of the psychedelic mushrooms, but there’s still plenty we need to learn about these fungi! Cannadelics is an independent news site bringing you news and commentary in the growing cannabis and psychedelics spaces. We also provide theCannadelics Weekly Newsletter for our readers to access regular updates on big stories. Check it out if you want access to deals on all kinds of cannabis and psychedelics products. We’ve got vapes, smoking devices, edibles, other paraphernalia, and cannabinoids like the ever-popular Delta 8 & HHC. Head to our ‘best of’ lists for more information, and try to only purchase the products you really want to use.
An overview of psilocybe mushrooms
When we hear the terms ‘magic mushrooms’ or ‘psychedelic mushrooms’ the immediate association is with ‘psilocybin mushrooms’. Truth is, there isn’t just one kind of psilocybin mushroom, and they come from different genera. The most popular genus is the psilocybe grouping, though there are other genera, like Panaeolus and Conocybe.
Psilocybe mushrooms come from the Hymenogastraceae family of fungi, and were split originally into two major groups, that were not well connected to each other. One group for hallucinogenic species, and one group for non-hallucinogenic mushrooms. This was updated later with the hallucinogenic mushrooms staying under the Hymenogastraceae family name, and the non-hallucinogenic mushrooms (mostly) becoming known as the Deconica genera, under the Strophariaceae family.
The name Psilocybe comes from the Greek words for “bare” or “naked” (psilós), and “head” or “swelling” (kúbe), to create a meaning of “bare-headed”. This is in reference to the loose skin over the cap, which is detachable, and which looks like a bald head. The mushrooms look pretty standard for magic mushrooms, probably because they are the most popular, and therefore pictured most frequently. They are long-stemmed brown mushrooms, with a small, usually umbrella-looking cap. The spore-prints range from a lilac-brown to a dark purplish-brown.
These mushrooms come from the general Mesoamerica area which has the widest variety. But they can be found in many parts of the world, with many species found in more temperate weather conditions. This genus includes species like: P. cubensis, P. subcubensis, P. cyanescens, P. Mexicana, P. Semilanceata, P. Aurescens, and P. Pelliculosa, but there are hundreds of different species in the world.
Psilocybe mushrooms contain three psychedelic compounds called psilocybin, psilocin, and baeocystin. The first two of these are often mentioned, while the third is less well-known. While not all species within this genus contain these compounds, the majority of them do.
Psilocybin, psilocin, and baeocystin
When it comes to these mushrooms, there are three psychedelic compounds to consider. The first, psilocybin, is most famous, and is even used to refer to these mushrooms as psilocybin mushrooms. The interesting thing about psilocybin? It’s considered a ‘prodrug’ which implies a biologically inactive compound until it breaks down into a different compound in the body. The compound it breaks down into, is psilocin, making this the more interesting of the two.
Psilocin exists as well in these mushrooms, but in smaller amounts. Though psilocybin itself is inactive, it’s usually the more dominant compound, meaning the majority of the psilocin that affects us, is decarboxylated from psilocybin. It is therefore psilocin that exerts its power on serotonin receptors, and it is this compound responsible for the psychedelic trip. Psilocybin has the chemical formula: C12H17N2O4P, which converts to C12H16N2O (psilocin).
What about this third compound, baeocystin? Much less is known about it, though it was first synthesized in 1959 by a group including Albert Hofmann, the same guy that brought us LSD, and is known as an analog of psilocybin. Author Jochen Gartz, who wrote Magic Mushrooms Around the World, contends that in a study, baeocystin was found to be about as psychoactive as the same amount of psilocybin. Gartz also self-administered 4mg as part of a study, saying it made for “a gentle hallucinogenic experience.”
Another compound is also mentioned in psilocybe mushrooms, norbaeocystin, but though there is no evidence, this compound is thought of as non-psychedelic. Perhaps that story will change in the future as more research is done.
What other research exists on baeocystin?
Baeocystin is interesting because for as much as we know about psilocybin, we know way less about its cousin which appears in the same places. While Gartz talked of a hallucinogenic experience, a 2020 studySynthesis and Biological Evaluation of Tryptamines Found in Hallucinogenic Mushrooms: Norbaeocystin, Baeocystin, Norpsilocin, and Aeruginascin, turned up that no hallucinogenic effects were produced in a mouse model that used a head-twitch response. Researchers found “baeocystin was indistinguishable from the control mice that were given saline.”
In this study it was concluded “…baeocystin alone would likely not induce hallucinogenic effects in vivo“. This is probably because “…baeocystin alone would likely not induce 5-HT2A receptor-mediated psychoactive effects in vivo.” Researchers believe this is because of MAO action. MAO molecules use oxygen atoms to take out amine groups from other molecules, breaking them down. Baeocystin’s metabolite norpsilocin, discovered in 2017, gets degraded faster in the body compared to psilocin by the MAO. Researchers hypothesized that baeocystin also can’t cross the blood brain barrier.
How does norpsilocin do at the 5-HT2A receptor sites that are associated with serotonergic psychedelics? This metabolite compound (4-HO-NMT) showed to be a full agonist, with a higher potency than psilocin – Emax 93% compared to psilocin’s 73%. Which means though baeocystin might not be psychoactive, its metabolite norpsilocin does seem to be. That norpsilocin has these properties opens a whole new door of study into magic mushrooms, and their medicinal components. Though it appears quite possible that MAOs keep the compound from getting a chance to exert its effects.
Say the researchers, “The in vivo data combined with assessment of the pharmacological liabilities suggest it is unlikely that baeocystin or its putative metabolite norpsilocin contribute significantly to centrally mediated psychedelic effects, likely due to rapid degradation by MAO or inability to cross the blood−brain barrier.” But went on to say, “…baeocystin could potentially exert a synergistic effect with psilocin/psilocybin by competing for MAO, effectively increasing psilocin concentration in the blood.”
The idea that baeocystin itself doesn’t cause a psychedelic reaction was reiterated by mycologist Paul Stamets, an expert on magic mushrooms, who also self-administered 10mg of the compound. He explained on the Joe Rogan show that he never got a high off the pure compound. According to Stametz, “I was ready for liftoff. I was hoping for liftoff, I know what liftoff feels like, and I didn’t get it.”
Unfortunately, while psilocybin is easy to get as a pure compound, access to baeocystin and norpsilocin is apparently much harder, leading to less experiences and data on these compounds, apart from the examples mentioned. It suffices to say, that there is certainly way more to know, and hopefully in upcoming years, more will come out.
Oregon and psilocybe mushrooms
Oregon was the very first state to legalize the recreational use of magic mushrooms on a state-wide basis. In a 2020 ballot measure the state passed the Psilocybin Mushroom Services Program Initiative via Measure 109. 55.75% of the voting population voted yes to start this adult-use magic mushroom market.
However, Oregon is in no way creating a free-for-all. Not only is the state only allowing legal use within specified facilities, and under the watch of a trip-sitter (though one without medical/psychological training), it’s also only allowing one type of mushroom for this market. The one allowed species of psilocybe mushrooms is called Psilocybe cubensis, and is the most popular of the psilocybe mushrooms.This point was very much debated after draft rules came out earlier, but Oregon didn’t budge on this point, reasoning:
“OPS received comments requesting that the rules allow additional species of mushrooms and use of additional substrates. The Oregon Psilocybin Advisory Board recommended limiting cultivation to Psilocybe cubensis and prohibiting substrates that may pose a risk to health and safety.”
And continued, “To avoid the risk associated with deadly, poisonous look-alikes and the potential for wood lover’s paralysis and animal-borne pathogens, OPS has upheld this recommendation in final rules… OPS looks forward to consideration of additional species in the future through continued dialog with the public and recommendations from the Oregon Psilocybin Advisory Board.”
Realistically, while the legalization is weak at best, it is the start to something. Whether other states looking to do this will expand out beyond that one species, is yet to be seen. Considering the number of states looking into legalizations for entheogenic plants, it’s hard to imagine that laws won’t get a little looser over time.
Psilocybe mushrooms represent the biggest genus of magic mushrooms, which contains the most varieties of mushrooms with psychedelic compounds. Chances are, if you’re doing magic mushrooms, you’re most likely doing some species of psilocybe.
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Common genetic variations in a particular serotonin receptor could be responsible for the varying effects psychedelic drugs have on different individuals, according to a recently published study from researchers at the University of North Carolina. The study, which comes at a time of reinvigorated research into the potential therapeutic benefits of psychedelic drugs, could shed light on why the substances seem to have dramatically positive effects for some patients with serious mental health conditions while others find little therapeutic value in the drugs.
Bryan Roth, MD, PhD, led a team of researchers at the University of North Carolina (UNC) to complete the study. The goal of the research was to explore how variations in this one serotonin receptor changes the activity of four psychedelic therapies. The laboratory research in cells showed that seven variants uniquely and differentially impact the receptor’s response to four psychedelic drugs—psilocin, LSD, 5-methoxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine (5-MeO-DMT) and mescaline. The researchers believe that the in vitro research could be useful for determining appropriate mental health therapies for patients.
“Based on our study, we expect that patients with different genetic variations will react differently to psychedelic-assisted treatments,” said Roth, who leads the National Institutes of Health Psychotropic Drug Screening Program. “We think physicians should consider the genetics of a patient’s serotonin receptors to identify which psychedelic compound is likely to be the most effective treatment in future clinical trials.”
Psychedelics and Mental Health
Research published in 2020 in the journal JAMA Psychiatry found that psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy was a quick-acting and effective treatment for a group of 24 participants with major depressive disorder. A separate study published in 2016 determined that psilocybin treatment produced substantial and sustained decreases in depression and anxiety in patients with life-threatening cancer. And last year, researchers determined that psychedelic users had less stress during lockdowns put in place to control the COVID-19 pandemic.
Prior research has also determined that psychedelic drugs stimulate serotonin receptors in the brain. The 5-hydroxytryptamine receptor, also known as 5-HT2A, is responsible for mediating how a person reacts to psychedelic drugs. However, there are several naturally occurring, random genetic variations that can affect the function and structure of the 5-HT2A receptor. Much of the research into the effect that psychedelics have on mental health is inspired by the effect the drugs have on serotonin receptors, which bind the neurotransmitter serotonin and other similar molecules to help regulate mood, emotions and appetite.
Although they show great promise, psychedelic drugs do not seem to be effective as a treatment for everyone. Dustin Hines, PhD, an assistant professor of neuroscience in the department of psychology at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, who was not involved in the UNC study, said the research could shed light on why psychedelic therapies work well for some patients while others find little therapeutic benefit from the drugs.
“Genetic variation in this receptor has been shown to influence the response of patients to other drugs,” Hines told Healthline. “While psychedelic therapies can provide rapid and sustained therapeutic benefits for multiple mental health concerns, there are a proportion of patients who fail to respond.”
Hines also noted that differences in mental health conditions from person to person could also contribute to how well patients respond to both psychedelic and more traditional treatments.
“Some individuals with depression may have a genetic predisposition that increases the likelihood that they will experience depression in their lives,” Hines said. “Other individuals facing depression may have more situational or environmental contributions.”
The researchers at UNC noted that the study could help provide insight to clinicians considering psychedelics as a treatment for their patients and called for further investigation.
“This is another piece of the puzzle we must know when deciding to prescribe any therapeutic with such dramatic effect aside from the therapeutic effect,” Roth said. “Further research will help us continue to find the best ways to help individual patients.”
As psychedelics gain steam, getting closer to legalization in the US, interest has picked up in all kinds, whether lab-made like LSD, or nature-made like DMT. In so doing, it’s become apparent just how many entheogenic options there are. Take DMT, for example. Sure, it’s one half of ayahuasca, which comes from a plant, but another form comes from a toad, and yet another from sponge fish. With DMT, there are several options, and users can pick their poison.
DMT options abound in nature, and you can find the compound and its derivatives in tons of places. Take your pick! We’re a news publication focusing on the psychedelics and cannabis fields, and everything going on within. Stay with us by subscribing to The Cannadelics Weekly Newsletter, and put yourself in first place for all new product promotions, as they become available to the public.
What is DMT?
DMT – or N,N-Dimethyltryptamine, is a psychedelic hallucinogenic compound. Unlike fellow psychedelics LSD and MDMA, it’s found in nature, and is in plants like Psychotria viridis, which is one half of ayahuasca. DMT is processed into a white powder that is vaporized or smoked, brewed into a drink like ayahuasca, snorted like cocaine, or injected. Throughout history it’s been used in medicinal, ritualistic, and spiritual applications, in different time periods, and in different cultures. Trips are short, lasting anywhere from 10-90 minutes.
DMT is similar to other psychedelics in that its serotonergic, meaning it has a strong effect on serotonin receptors, especially 5HT2A. It exerts strength as a non-selective agonist at all (or most of) these receptors. DMT causes hallucinations which are sensory experiences that aren’t actually there, like hearing, seeing, feeling, smelling, or tasting something that doesn’t exist. Like other psychedelics, its also associated with euphoria, well-being, feelings of connection and spirituality, altered cognition, and bringing on life-changing experiences.
One of the most popular applications of DMT is as ayahuasca, in which DMT is one half of the concoction. Ayahuasca is a brewed drink made by mixing DMT with the Banisteriopsis caapi vine in order for the MAO inhibitors in Banisteriopsis caapi to stop the DMT from breaking down so quickly. Because of this, trips last much longer, more like 4-6+ hours. The use of DMT this way dates back at least 1,000 years (though probably longer), as evidenced by a pouch found in southwestern Bolivia’s Sora River Valley, which contained both DMT and harmine (another MAOI), which produce ayahuasca together.
In 1931, Canadian chemist Richard Manske synthesized DMT for the first time. It wasn’t found in a plant until microbiologist Oswaldo Gonçalves de Lima located it in a plant in 1946. That it caused hallucinations took even longer to establish, and that happened when Stephen Szara, a Hungarian chemist and psychiatrist, took the DMT he extracted from a Mimosa hostilis plant.
It’s believed by some that the human body can create DMT in the pineal gland of the brain. The predominant thought is that this happens when approaching death in order to calm down the brain from death anxiety. It is currently undergoing trials for use with treatment-resistant depression.
DMT options – you’ve got plenty!
When it comes to drugs, we often lump a bunch together, even though they’re not exactly the same. Take the term ‘THC’ for example. It doesn’t actually refer to only delta-9 THC, but actually refers to several different compounds that have the same chemical formula, but different molecular structures. It’s a similar situation with DMT. There are different DMT options based on different derivatives, and these different options are very similar, but can cause different effects for the user.
DMT actually refers to N,N-DMT, which is found in plants like Psychotria viridis, Mimosa tenuiflora, and Diplopterys cabrerana. In all of these cases, it’s the primary psychoactive alkaloid. It’s a minor alkaloid in other plants like the bark pods and beans of the Anadenanthera peregrina and Anadenanthera colubrina plants. It’s also a minor alkaloid of virola bark resin, but this involves another form of DMT as well. If you noticed, I didn’t say anything about toads right now, and that’s because toad DMT is a different kind of DMT.
When dealing with toads, and the ever-growing popularity of getting high off these slippery creatures, the kind of DMT we’re speaking about is different. In toads, its called 5-HO-DMT, or bufotenine (5-hydroxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine). Bufotenine, much like all other similar forms, is considered a ‘DMT derivative’, so its not the same DMT that’s in the plants listed above, but closely related. It’s also an alkaloid, like regular DMT, and its found in toads like the Colorado River Toad (aka Sonora Desert Toad, or Incilius alvarius), as well as other mushrooms and plants. This kind of DMT was isolated and named during WWI by Handovsky, an Austrian chemist, from a sample taken from a toad.
Yet another of the DMT options besides the two just listed is 5-MeO-DMT (5-methoxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine), which is also found in various plant species, and is also secreted by the Colorado River Toad, along with bufotenine. This form of DMT was synthesized for the first time in 1936, and is found in Anadenanthera peregrina seeds as well as Virola theiodora, along with regular DMT. In 2018, the research studyA Single Dose of 5-MeO-DMT Stimulates Cell Proliferation, Neuronal Survivability, Morphological and Functional Changes in Adult Mice Ventral Dentate Gyrus showed that this kind of DMT promotes neuroplasticity.
It is sometime said that 5-MeO-DMT creates a more intense high than the other forms of DMT, but this could be related to subjective experience. The difficulty in assessing something like this, is that the same exact compound can produce varying effects at different times, and the effects we’re talking about have to do with distorting perception. For the most part, DMT and its derivatives are associated with the same kind of high and hallucinations, but frequent users can give more specific information about the variability they experienced between them.
Where does DMT come from?
This is where it becomes a little tricky, and when we need to remember that chemical relationships are found between different types of plants. For example, a couple more compounds that are actually derivatives of DMT are O-Phosphoryl-4-hydroxy-N,N-DMT, which we know as psilocybin, and 4-HO-DMT, which we refer to as psilocin. These are the two hallucinogenic components of magic mushrooms. When we talk of magic mushrooms, we usually separate them from DMT, but in reality, the main psychedelic compounds of these fungi, are derivatives of DMT.
Other derivatives are found elsewhere in nature, like sponge fish, which contain 5-Bromo-DMT (5-bromo-N,N-dimethyltryptamine). The reason for the connection between these different derivatives, is because they are all ‘DMT derivatives’, which means they are also ‘tryptamine derivatives’, which puts them in the grouping of ‘tryptamines’. Though ‘tryptamine’ isn’t an official drug class, it unofficially is the home of many compounds that are all agonists at 5HT2A receptor sites, and is the main reason that these different drugs produce hallucinations.
What makes these connections even more interesting? Tryptamines are all derived from tryptophan, an amino acid. What does this sound very close to? L-tryptophan. If you’re wondering why that word sounds familiar, but you can’t quite put your finger on it, L-tryptophan is the amino acid in meat that makes people relaxed and tired. It’s most associated with turkey and Thanksgiving, and people getting very sleepy after their big meal.
That’s because L-tryptophan is associated with serotonin production, which is related to sleep. Whether L-tryptophan from meat actually makes a person tired or not is debatable, but the more interesting aspect, is in how the amino acid in our meat, might resemble the alkaloids that makes us see things that aren’t there. Tryptophan is a precursor to the synthesis of different compounds including serotonin, melatonin, and DMT and its derivatives.
Tryptophan becomes tryptamine via decarboxylation of the tryptophan with aromatic-L-amino acid decarboxylase (AADC). This transforms into DMT by way of a catalyzed enzymic reaction using indolethylamine-N-methyltransferase (INMT). Obviously it’s not exactly a direct line from ‘turkey’ to ‘hallucination’, but this process does show a connection between the two.
Biology is cool in this way. There are tons of interconnecting factors between compounds and organisms that we might not otherwise think of as being related. Another example of this concept is with THC and hormones. We know delta-9 shares the same chemical formula with other deltas like delta-8 and delta-10, and with similar compounds like CBD and CBC.
What else shares that chemical formula? Progesterone, a hormone produced by the human body which plays a major role in things like steroid production, sex, the female menstrual cycle and pregnancy, and in brain function. In this case, the relationship is much closer, implying the ability of something like cannabis to impact the endocrine system. It’s a point of research indeed, but its still unknown just how much the two may or may not impact each other. It’s interesting with tryptophan and DMT as well, and although the connection is not nearly as close, it does act as a reminder that DMT is a biological compound, and one related to human and animal life.
DMT and its derivative options are responsible for a large percentage of the hallucinogenic plants and animals that exist. If you’re a first time user, you’d probably be fine with any of the varieties, and if you’re an experienced user, you might already have a preference. Regardless of which of the DMT options is your preferred pick, the one thing for sure is, that it’s going to be a very trippy experience.
Some people see the Netherlands, and more specifically Amsterdam, as a drug-utopia. A place where everything is legal, allowed and thriving. A place where you can smoke cannabis on the street, walk along the red-light district, and munch on some magic truffles. But what are magic truffles? And are they as potent as magic mushrooms? In addition, why is one legal but the other is not? Although Amsterdam may seem like an unapologetically open city, it’s far more nuanced than that. Using Amsterdam as a reference point, let’s take a closer look at what the true difference is between magic truffles and magic mushrooms.
It’s a common misconception that drugs are legal in the Netherlands. In fact, even cannabis, which is sold publicly on the streets of Amsterdam, is still an illegal drug. This means that Luxembourg was actually the first country in Europe to officially legalize cannabis for growing and consumption. But how can this be the case? Well, CNN Travel elaborates:
“You may be surprised to learn that recreational drugs are illegal in the Netherlands. Yes, even pot. But an official policy of tolerance emerged and in 1976 the Dutch parliament decriminalized possession of less than 5 grams of cannabis.”
What occurred after this decision was a new culture of coffee shops where you could buy up to 5 grams of cannabis flower, under the guise that it was not illegal, only decriminalised. That evolved and now Amsterdam is known for its cannabis culture, with over 160 coffeeshops in the city center. There are a wide range of cannabis products on sale in Amsterdam, these include: edibles, high-THC buds, tinctures, and more.
So, what about other kinds of drugs? How about magic mushrooms? Almost all other drugs are dealt with harshly. Much like the rest of the world. Cocaine, heroin and MDMA are all illegal and only sold unlawfully on the dark web or from street dealers. It’s only cannabis that has seemed to find its own loophole. Well, interestingly, before 2008, magic mushrooms actually were a legal drug in the Netherlands.
Magic mushrooms are wild growing fungi found all over the world. Mushrooms can be poisonous, so it’s important to know what exactly magic mushrooms look like if you decide to go searching for them. The magic kind look like an ordinary mushroom except they have a longer stem and smaller head. Magic mushrooms contain psilocybin, which is a naturally-occurring hallucinogen and psychoactive ingredient. It’s the psilocybin that is responsible for the well-known effects of shrooms. These effects include:
Distorted sense of reality
Magic mushrooms are usually placed in the top tier of drug categories around the world because they are a hallucigen. In the USA, they are considered a Schedule 1 and in the UK they are considered a Class A, meaning they’re believed to carry a high risk of abuse and addiction. Any drug that twists and re-shapes reality are often considered to be the most dangerous drug by most nations, although this is not necessarily accurate. And this is despite the fact that psilocybin has been found to have numerous different medical benefits. In 2016, a John Hopkins study found that psilocybin could help treat people with anxiety and depression.
In the Netherlands, it wasn’t until recently that mushrooms were made illegal.This was a headline for an NBC News article, written in 2007:“The Netherlands will ban the sale of hallucinogenic mushrooms, the government announced Friday, tightening the country’s famed liberal drug policies after the suicide of an intoxicated teenage girl.”
After a girl under the influence of mushrooms jumped out of a window in 2007, protests against hallucinogens took place and resulted in the drug being made illegal. Consequently, the majority of magic mushroom types were banned. All, except one: the truffle.
What are Truffles?
So, in order for us to understand why truffles were left legal, we first need to understand what they actually are. And, of course, how they differ from magic mushrooms. Truffles are mostly spoken about in relation to the Netherlands because most other countries do not allow them. In addition, when people visit Amsterdam, many are surprised by the ease of purchasing truffles. They can be bought in coffeeshops and smart shops and usually come in colourful packaging with names like: ‘mexicana’, ‘atlantis’ and ‘high hawaiians’. All claim to be stronger than the next. But really what are truffles?
Magic truffles are nothing like the kinds of truffles you cook with, except they do have one similarity: they grow underground. Magic truffles are sclerotia, which is essentially a hardened mass of fungal mycelium that grows beneath the surface. Magic truffles are from the psilocybe mushroom mycelium and contain psilocybin. Psilocybin is a hallucinogenic compound and gives both truffles and mushrooms their psychedelic effects.
Taste & Look
Magic truffles are essentially magic mushrooms that never made it to the surface, and this is exactly what they look like. They look like mushrooms that have never seen the sun and haven’t been able to grow. This means they taste a little like soil and dirt. In addition, they’re very dry so eating them without liquid can be quite difficult.
Magic Mushrooms vs Magic Truffles
So, what are the differences between these two fungi, and why is one legal and the other is not in the Netherlands?
First up, let’s take a look at the scientific differences between the two substances. So far we know they both contain psilocybin, which is a psychedelic compound. But also, this is what the National Library of Medicine has to say:
“Magic mushrooms is the most common name given to hallucinogenic fungi containing the psychoactive alkaloids psilocybin and psilocin. In recent years, fungis’ sclerotia, commonly called “magic truffles” have become a form of supply of psychoactive Psilocybe alkaloids since Psilocybe sclerotia are not specifically included in the laws banning the sale, the purchase and the use of such substances and mushrooms containing them”
What this means is that magic mushrooms and magic mushrooms are essentially the exact same thing. However, magic truffles are simply at an earlier stage of development. They are at a more embryonic stage, hence why they are ‘picked’ whilst they’re still underground. Known also as sclerotia, hallucinogenic truffles are a younger fungus, which stores food reserves in a hard mycelium. These then grow into magic mushrooms after time.
Magic mushrooms and magic truffles do not look the same. In fact, truffles look like what they are: stunted mushrooms that never made it to the surface and never saw the sun. They also resemble a darker-looking bit of ginger. Whatever you want to liken them too, they definitely don’t look appealing. Magic mushrooms – on the other hand – look the same as usual mushrooms, except with longer stems and smaller heads.
Some believe that truffles must be less potent than mushrooms because they are legal and less formed. This is not necessarily correct. Both contain psilocybin and the same chemical compounds, therefore they should technically have the same potency. However, due to the fact that magic truffles are standardised and commercialised, they have been able to create and package various strengths and potencies. Therefore, you can purchase weak, mild and strong magic truffles in Amsterdam. It’s harder to do the same with magic mushrooms as they are illegal and are usually sold by people who do not have various types. Both magic truffles and magic mushrooms are digested, they usually kick-in after around an hour and their effects can last from 4-8 hours. Overall, magic truffles and magic mushrooms have the same level of potency, but truffles can be bought to have less if customers require it.
If all this is the case, then why have the Netherlands decided to illegalise magic mushrooms but not magic truffles? Well, it’s first important to understand that countries like the UK and the USA have banned the substance of psilocybin which, as a result, has made anything containing this substance also illegal. This includes both magic mushrooms and magic truffles. However, in the Netherlands, they decided to illegalise magic mushrooms as a substance, rather than what they contain. This left room for magic truffles to slip through the cracks.
Magic mushrooms and magic truffles are both essentially the same drug, except they are both at different stages of growth. The Netherlands, in particular, have decided to treat each drug individually rather than the substances that the drug contains. Whatever you believe to be right or wrong, the situation is that magic truffles are potent and extremely easy to purchase in Amsterdam. So, if you’re looking for an exciting and legal experience, make sure to head over there and try them out.
Disclaimer: Hi, I’m a researcher and writer. All information in my articles is sourced and referenced, and all opinions stated are mine. I am not giving anyone advise, 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.
Pennsylvania is set to become a national, and possibly global, leader in psilocybin research, thanks to a new bill that was recently introduced in the House of Representatives. The bill passed a Health Committee vote in Harrisburg and is on its way for votes in the house and senate.
Titled the Public Health Benefits of Psilocybin Act, the purpose of this legislation is to lay the foundation for researchers within the state of Pennsylvania to begin clinical trials on psilocybin, the predominant psychoactive compound in magic mushrooms, as well as other natural psychedelics in the future. As it currently stands, with psilocybin categorized as a Schedule 1 narcotic on the DEA’s list of controlled substances, anyone trying to do any worthwhile research on the psychedelics has been massively hindered by a seemingly endless list of cumbersome and overbearing regulations.
Just like cannabis, psychedelics are beginning to take hold in the Western World. Not only are they being used recreationally at much higher rates, but the world is becoming familiar with their many benefits, especially in the field of mental health. For more articles like this one, make sure to subscribe to our Psychedelics Weekly Newsletter, your top source for everything related to this growing industry.
What are psychedelics?
Psychedelic drugs, are a subset of hallucinogens which contain compounds that can alter mood and perception. They are also referred to as entheogens, a Greek term that can be roughly translated to mean “building the God within”. The active compounds in psychedelic drugs can be found in nature, like psilocybin or mescaline, but they can also be man made, like LSD or Ketamine.
The high experienced when taking these types of drugs is known as a ‘trip’, and can include visual, auditory, and sensory hallucinations. The intensity of a trip will vary dramatically based on the specific compound, dose consumed, and tolerance of the user. Sometimes, a person will experience no hallucinations at all, but rather a sense of general well-being, spiritual connectivity, and euphoria.
If you’ve ever heard someone mention a ‘bad trip’, this means the person had some type of negative side effects, or maybe even frightening hallucinations. Physical symptoms of a bad trip can include but are not limited to irregular heartbeat, nausea, chills, sweating, and anxiety. Bad trips, due to their negative nature, can seem more intense than good trips but this is not always the case.
Dosing and setting, among many other factors, can significantly impact a psychedelic trip, so you want to make sure that you’re doing everything possible to ensure that your high is uplifting and eye-opening, not scary and traumatizing.
Surrounding yourself with familiar people that make you feel comfortable, go low and slow with dosing, and picking a location that you know you’re safe in – these are all steps you can take to foster a good trip. Many present-day, medical (not recreational) users of psychedelics consume the drugs in micro-doses to avoid the risk of bad trips and other negative side effects altogether.
More about the bill
The Public Health Benefits of Psilocybin Act is primarily sponsored by Tracy Pennycuick, an Army veteran and Republican member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives serving her first term, along with 20 bipartisan cosponsors. The bill, which has does not come with any funding, would place the state’s Department of Health in charge of clinical trials and other research efforts, starting with studying how psilocybin could help treat PTSD in military veterans.
“I have PTSD, so it interests me,” Pennycuick said. “Not every treatment works for every veteran. So, you have to be always leaning forward into treatment.”
What’s unique about this bill compared to other psychedelic research initiatives is that this one authorizes at least two state-licensed growers to cultivate psychoactive mushrooms to use in the clinical trials. Most research, like that conducted at Johns Hopkins University, is done using a synthetic form of psilocybin.
This distinction is important because we will have legitimate, clinical information about how the varying naturally occurring compounds work together in the human body and how different mushroom/truffle strains could be used to treat different conditions. The entourage effect of psychedelic fungi.
Another adamant supporter of this bill is Brett Waters, a Pennsylvania-native currently practicing as an attorney in New York. “It’s very clear at this point that current treatment that we offer people is not effective,” says Waters. “It has limited efficacy for some people and no efficacy for many people. We need to do better.”
Waters is also the founder of Reason for Hope, a nonprofit organization that advocates for psychedelic-assisted therapy. Waters, who grew up in Merion, lost both his mother and grandfather to suicide. His organization is also working with politicians in New York, North Carolina, and Florida to push for more progressive legislation regarding psychedelic research.
Another supporter and industry expert, Mason Marks, a professor at the University of New Hampshire’s Franklin Pierce School of Law and head of the Project on Psychedelics Law and Regulation at Harvard’s Petrie-Flom Center, feels this bill should be a top priority in the minds of lawmakers.
“For two decades we’ve seen rising rates of suicide, rising rates of drug overdose deaths, and so there is a certain amount of urgency on this issue, so I think increasing access is really important,” he stated.
The race to legalize and study mushrooms
If you’ve been following industry news lately, you’ve probably noticed that numerous cities/states are updating their psilocybin regulations. For the most part different regions are decriminalizing their possession. This has happened in several large cities across the US including Detroit, Seattle, Oakland, and Denver.
However, a handful of states are approaching these new policies from the paradigm of research and medicine. On November 3rd, 2020, Oregon passed Measure 109, making it the first US state to legalize the use of psilocybin-assisted therapy, and lawmakers are currently working on developing the necessary regulatory framework.
Early last year, Florida House Representative Michael Grieco introduced a bill that would legalize psilocybin medicinally for people with mental disorders, to be microdosed in licensed clinics. Late last summer, Texas passed House Bill 1802 calling for the state’s Health and Human Services Commission to do a human clinical trial on mental health disorders and psilocybin treatments, using a synthetic version of the compound.
Where Pennsylvania differs, aside from the fact their programs aim to use natural psilocybin, is that this bill will be focused on university studies, clinical trials from medical research institutions, and hospital research and data.
Even more research
Last month, the National Institute of Health awarded nearly $4 million to Johns Hopkins researcher Matthew Johnson, who is looking into the benefits of pairing psilocybin-assisted therapy with traditional talk therapy. Given the introspective and sentient nature of psychedelics, microdosing with shrooms before a therapy session could definitely help one be more honest, open, and transparent.
Recently, a publicly traded British firm known as Compass Pathways, released the results on their larger-scale psilocybin trial completed late last year. Researchers examined 233 patients who were given different doses of synthetic psilocybin, and they found that a one-time, 25-milligram dose was able to substantially reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression for up to three weeks.
“The trial is encouraging being a larger sample of patients with a control group than earlier [treatment resistant depression] studies and having a significant effect for a clinical need,” said William R. Smith, a fourth-year psychiatry resident at Penn Medicine. “Treatment-resistant depression is a major challenge for contemporary psychiatry, we need more options.”
At this point, even the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) published a statement saying they need more cannabis and psilocybin produced for research purposed, and they want it as soon as the middle of this year.
The Pennsylvania bill is expected to pass, but even if it does not, it shows how far public opinion on this subject has progressed. It’s a sign that curiosity about psychedelics is flourishing in the US and around the rest of the world. Despite what federal regulations might say, when you talk to people, you see that there is a general acceptance of these compounds, especially naturally occurring ones like psilocybin, mescaline, or DMT. Keep a close eye on Pennsylvania in these coming weeks, and check back here for updates on this important bill.
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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.
A national advocacy group has submitted two separate proposals that would decriminalize psychedelics in Colorado in an effort to put the issue before voters in next year’s general election. New Approach PAC, a Washington, D.C.-based political action committee, filed the decriminalization proposals with the office of the Colorado Secretary of State on December 3, according to media reports.
The first proposal would decriminalize the psychedelic drugs ibogaine, DMT, mescaline (excluding peyote), psilocybin and psilocin for adults 21 and older, with a cap of four grams of the psychoactive substances. Under the measure, the governor would be required to appoint a Natural Medicine Advisory Board, which would be tasked with implementing decriminalization. The state would also license healing centers to supply psychedelic drugs and assist clients using them.
The second measure is similar to the first, but would decriminalize only psilocybin and psilocin, the psychedelic compounds found in “magic mushrooms.” Under the proposal, the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies would implement decriminalization in a fashion similar to the one outlined in the first initiative.
If one or both of the proposals is approved by the Secretary of State’s office, organizers would then need to collect the required signatures to qualify the measures for the ballot in 2022.
“Our goal is to make the healing benefits of these natural medicines available to people they can help, including veterans with PTSD, survivors of domestic or sexual abuse, people with treatment-resistant depression and others for whom our typical mental-health treatments just aren’t working,” Ben Unger, psychedelic program director for New Approach PAC, toldWestword.
Psychedelics for Health and Wellness
Researchers continue to study the potential medicinal applications of psilocybin and other natural psychedelic drugs, which are often also referred to as entheogenic plants and fungi. A study published last year in the journal JAMA Psychiatry found that psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy was a quick-acting and effective treatment for a group of 24 participants with major depressive disorder. And separate research published in 2016 determined that psilocybin treatment produced substantial and sustained decreases in depression and anxiety in patients with life-threatening cancer.
Denver was the first major municipality to decriminalize psychedelics in 2019, and similar measures have been passed by Oakland, Washington, D.C., Detroit and Cambridge, Massachusetts since then. In October, city leaders passed a psychedelics decriminalization resolution in Seattle, the largest U.S. city to approve such legislation to date. And in November, voters in Oregon approved a ballot measure that decriminalized psilocybin and legalized the compound for therapeutic use.
Kevin Matthews, the leader of the group that campaigned for Denver’s psychedelics decriminalization measure, is now lobbying for the statewide effort advanced by national advocates.
“We’re glad to have New Approach as a partner who can help us bring this level of change to the entire state, because we’re going to create more opportunities for so many people to receive the help they need to deal with mental health conditions that are otherwise devastating,” Matthews said. “Creating new opportunities for people to heal is what drives us, and we look forward to engaging with Colorado residents on this issue.”
Activists Disagree on Best Path to Psychedelics Decriminalization
But not all psychedelics activists in Colorado agree with the New Approach proposals. Nicole Foerster, head of Decriminalize Nature Boulder County, said that she is concerned about some of the language in the potential ballot measures.
“They’re looking to create these top-down, restrictive policies in places where grassroots community has been the strongest and where policy has been passed by grassroots community,” Foerster said at a virtual meeting of the group held on December 16.
Foerster noted that local activists were not involved in drafting the proposals from New Approach, but said they are now trying to cooperate with the national group.
“We are trying to push and influence them to only include psilocybin and psilocin, because they said they’re unwilling to do anything that”s not going to set up a regulatory framework,” she added.
Unger said that the New Approach initiatives include a regulatory framework so that psychedelics can help as many people as possible safely.
“We believe more people will be served and treated by making psychedelics available in a safe, regulated and consistent way,” Unger said. “These natural medicines can be life-changing for so many, and we want people to be confident that the treatment they’re receiving is high-quality and held to clear standards of accountability.”
Some local activists at the Decriminalize Nature Boulder County virtual meeting expressed concerns that New Approach may be moving too quickly, but Matthews disagreed.
“We’ve been discussing the possibility of statewide reform since this spring, and I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished so far to ensure this initiative will be ready on the timeline necessary to set it up for success,” Matthews said. “We still have more outreach and collaboration to do in the coming weeks, and it’s been exciting working alongside so many of my colleagues and friends from our successful effort in Denver in 2019.”
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