California is one step closer to legalizing psychedelics. A State Senate committee approved a bill that legalizes possessing certain psychedelic substances. The bill looks to legalize the “possession, preparation, obtaining, transfer, as specified, or transportation” of small amounts of psilocybin, psilocin, DMT, ibogaine and mescaline for personal use. LSD and MDMA will remain illegal due to an appeal to nature. While earlier versions of the bill included them, some felt LSD and MDMA are synthetic and thus not genuine plant-based […]
Patients in Australia will soon have legal access to the psychedelic drugs psilocybin and MDMA under a plan announced by regulators last month. But with no approved source of the drug available to therapists, patients will likely face bills in the tens of thousands of dollars to obtain the promising treatment.
Last month, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), the Australian government’s medicine and therapeutic regulatory agency, announced that qualified psychiatrists will be able to prescribe the psychedelic drugs psilocybin and MDMA for the treatment of certain mental health conditions beginning later this year. But the agency has not approved any products containing the promising psychedelic drugs, leaving mental health professionals to source the drugs themselves. Without a government subsidy to help cover the cost of the medications, psychiatrists estimate that patients will have to pay as much as AU$25,000 (nearly $17,000) and more out of pocket for psychedelic-assisted therapy.
“For the actual patient, it might be $25,000, $30,000 for a treatment,” said Dr. Stephen Bright, a senior lecturer at Edith Cowan University and director of the charity Psychedelic Research In Science & Medicine.
“I honestly don’t think, for the next 12 to 18 months post July 1, that these treatments will be very widely available at all,” he added. “The tight controls of therapy mean there are very few psychologists who put their hand up. There will be a few clinics that open up, but I don’t think we’re going to see the floodgates open.”
Dr. Paul Liknaitzky, the head of the Clinical Psychedelic Lab at Monash University, revealed last month that he and other mental health professionals will be partnering with investors to open a psychedelic-assisted therapy clinic in Melbourne. But training requirements for therapists and detailed guidelines for such therapy have yet to be issued by government regulators.
“There is a lack of detailed clarity from the TGA to help us understand how it’s going to roll out. We are concerned but cautiously optimistic,” he said.
Liknaitzky said that he and his colleagues will help establish protocols that set high standards for ethical and effective psychedelic-assisted therapy. But he warned that the high cost of treatment might make the treatment inaccessible to most Australians.
“Sensible and safe treatment approaches, based on decades of best-practice development, will include considerable screening, psychotherapy and other support. A typical course of treatment, spanning a few months, may be in the order of $25,000, plus or minus $10,000,” he said. “If it turns out to be cost-effective, it will be in the government’s interest to fund it.”
Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy Shows Promise
Ongoing research has shown that psilocybin, the primary psychoactive compound in magic mushrooms, has the potential to be an effective treatment for several serious mental health conditions, including PTSD, major depressive disorder, anxiety and substance misuse disorders. A study published in 2020 in the peer-reviewed 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.
Separate research published in 2016 determined that psilocybin treatment produced substantial and sustained decreases in depression and anxiety in patients with life-threatening cancer. And in 2021, a study published in the journal NatureMedicine determined that MDMA, commonly known as ecstasy, is a highly efficacious and safe treatment for individuals with severe PTSD.
But Professor Chris Langmead of the Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences says that it is unlikely that public health agencies will cover the cost of such treatment until further research including a cost-benefit analysis has been completed.
“We’re trying to get a groundswell of research and funding so we can do the research, clinical studies and practice rollout [to ensure] that this is not purely a market-led solution where the most disadvantaged populations are missing out,” he said. “The TGA has put Australia at the forefront of the world and we really need to take the opportunity and make the most of it.”
University of Melbourne associate professor Gillinder Bedi said that a shortage of clinical staff trained in psychedelic-assisted therapy will also make the treatment difficult for patients to obtain.
“The infrastructure will get set up. There will be clinics. But the problem is we don’t have staff. People can’t even see psychiatrists under normal conditions,” she said. “If you put two clinical psychologists in a room for eight hours, at a [Medicare] billing rate of $120 an hour – which is not what people charge, they charge $200 to $300 – you have an enormously expensive treatment. I think it could get higher [than $25,000].
“No matter which way you look at it, it will take time away from other treatments and cost a whole bunch of money. It’s unclear who will foot the bill, some organizations are trying to set up philanthropic funding,” Bedi added. “But it’s going to be for people with money, in the initial stages at least.”
Prince Harry’s visa should be denied and he should be deported from the U.S., a conservative group is demanding.
When Prince Harry detailed his history with pot and other drugs in his autobiography, he made heads roll, especially in conservative circles on both sides of the Atlantic. The Heritage Foundation—a conservative think tank in operation for over 50 years—called for the deportation of Prince Harry over his admissions to past drug use including pot and cocaine.
A representative from The Heritage Foundation said the organization is in arms with the U.S. State Department, as they are refusing to release any details about Prince Harry’s visa application, The Mercury Newsreports.
The power couple is often the target of conservative media, which often sides with the Royal Family instead of Prince Harry. The Heritage Foundation entered the arena by challenging his visa status.
“This request is in the public interest in light of the potential revocation of Prince Harry’s visa for illicit substance use and further questions regarding the Prince’s drug use and whether he was properly vetted before entering the United States,” Mike Howell, director of the Heritage Foundation’s Oversight Project, told the Daily Mail.
In Prince Harry’s controversial autobiography Spare, which was published this past January, he revealed that he first snorted coke at age 17 and again on a few other occasions. He also toked up after his first date with Meghan Markle. “I started doing it recreationally and then started to realize how good it was for me,” Harry said. “I would say it is one of the fundamental parts of my life that changed me and helped me deal with the traumas and the pains of the past.”
But according to law, visa records are considered confidential. “Visa records are confidential under Section 222(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA); therefore, we cannot discuss the details of individual visa cases,” a U.S. State Department spokesman said.
Legal experts aren’t sure if Harry’s past drug use actually could threaten his visa status, allowing him to stay in the United States to live and work. “An admission of drug use is usually grounds for inadmissibility,” former federal prosecutor Neama Rahmani told Page Six. “That means Prince Harry’s visa should have been denied or revoked because he admitted to using cocaine, mushrooms and other drugs.”
New Jersey-based attorney James Leonard, disagreed with Rahmani and said that Prince Harry’s visa status is not at risk.
“Absent any criminal charge related to drugs or alcohol or any finding by a judicial authority that Prince Harry is a habitual drug user, which he clearly is not, I don’t see any issue with the disclosures in his memoir regarding recreational experimentation with drugs,” Leonard said.
Advocates for the medical use of psilocybin mushrooms in Canada launched a petition to call upon the federal government to take action. Interest in psilocybin-assisted therapy continues to grow to combat end-of-life anxiety, depression, addition, and PTSD, among many other conditions.
Petition e-4334 was launched on March 16—an online “Petition to the Government of Canada,” which, according to law, will have to be presented in the House of Commons if it meets certain conditions, Microdosereports. Petitions must be certified by the Clerk of Petitions, for instance, in order to be presented to the House. They also must be signed by at least 500 residents of Canada, and a Member of Parliament must authorize them.
Advocates want to green-light therapeutic psilocybin in any form, and listed several specific conditions that can be improved.
“We, the undersigned, compassionate Canadians, call upon the Government of Canada to allow Canadians to have timely unrestricted access to therapeutic psilocybin in any form as needed to alleviate their suffering via Section 56 exemptions,” the petition reads.
The petition provides three reasons why psilocybin-assisted therapy should be legalized, including the mushroom’s low potential for harm:
Strong medical evidence exists that access to psychedelic-assisted therapy can effectively treat existential suffering in dying, depression, anxiety, addiction, PTSD, and other mental health conditions, improving quality of life;
Psilocybin required for psilocybin-assisted therapy is currently only available in clinical trials and by special individual permission from Health Canada despite its low potential for harm; and
It is paradoxical and unethical to allow physicians to provide MAID for their patients while preventing the same physicians from treating their end of life distress with psilocybin.
In order to sign the petition, signers must be a Canadian citizen or a resident of Canada.
Psilocybin-Assisted Therapy in Canada
Meanwhile, one particular case is drawing attention to the issue of psilocybin-assisted therapy.
Thomas waited for over 500 days for approval, but his exemption to continue to use psilocybin for medical purposes was denied by Minister Carolyn Bennett. Health Canada denied Hartle’s permission to continue psilocybin-assisted therapy, which attracted a lot of attention and criticism from the psychedelic community. Hartle believes Health Canada and the Ministers of Health are just waiting for him to die.
Psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy is the only thing that has helped him deal with his end-of-life anxiety and he says that he needs safe, legal access to it.
It’s stories like Hartle’s that are fueling the effort to legalize psilocybin-assisted therapy in Canada.
Apex Labs will launch a trial that will explore the efficacy of APEX-52 (psilocybin) for veterans suffering from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. Apex Labs received a “no objection letter” from Health Canada on Oct. 24, 2022.
A group of psychedelics activists has formed a political action committee aimed at lobbying Congress to support research into the therapeutic use of compounds including psilocybin, MDMA and ketamine. The new group, dubbed the Psychedelic Medicine PAC, also plans to encourage lawmakers to ease restrictions on the powerful drugs, which have shown promise as potential treatments for mental health conditions including depression, anxiety and addiction.
“With the growing evidence of therapeutic benefits from psychedelics, we believe it is time for the American people to take action into their own hands by electing leaders that support policies that expand access to these life-changing treatments,” Melissa Lavasani, the president and co-founder of the political action committee, said in a statement.
The Psychedelic Medicine PAC points to the adoption of psilocybin legalization measures by voters in Oregon and Colorado as evidence that such reform is warranted at the federal level. The group’s leaders acknowledge, however, that lingering misconceptions about psychedelics present challenges to progress on the issue.
“We have to convince a historically stubborn audience around psychedelics that it’s not the 1960s,” said Ryan Rodgers, co-founder and executive director of Psychedelic Medicine PAC.
“People aren’t going to stare into the sun for their eyes to blow out. People aren’t going to jump off a building,” he added. “This is about healing trauma. It’s not about recreation.”
Continuing research has shown that psilocybin has the potential to be an effective treatment for several serious mental health conditions, including PTSD, major depressive disorder, anxiety and substance misuse disorders. A study published in 2020 in the peer-reviewed 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.
Lavasani has personally experienced the benefits of psychedelics after using the promising drugs to treat post-partum depression and chronic pain. She led a 2020 campaign to decriminalize entheogenic plants and fungi in Washington, D.C. that was passed with the approval of 76% of the district’s voters. The same year, voters in Oregon voted in favor of a ballot initiative to legalize the therapeutic use of psilocybin, the primary psychoactive compound in magic mushrooms.
The leadership of the new PAC believes that before psychedelics can be legalized at the federal level, time must be spent educating members of Congress and the executive branch about the therapeutic potential of the compounds. Last year, the Biden administration announced it was considering forming a task force to study psychedelics in anticipation of possible upcoming approval of psychedelic-assisted therapy by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
“A research approach and a science-drive approach is really the path of least resistance,” Lavasani said. “It’s going to take a little longer — it’s a very slow approach and it’s very methodical what we’re trying to do — but it’s a way to ensure people feel comfortable buying into this issue.”
The Psychedelic Medicine PAC also seeks to form relationships with politicians on both sides of the aisle, noting that cannabis policy reform activists have had some success by forging consensus. But some policies pressed by many cannabis advocates, such as social equity and restorative justice provisions, have failed to gain the support of many lawmakers in the Republican party.
“We want to ensure that what we’re advocating for doesn’t create an opposition to the issue within the halls of Congress,” Lavasani said. “We’ve seen how some of the strategies employed by the cannabis reform movement have been really divisive and that’s really delayed some of the progress. That’s a real lesson learned.”
One of the lessons learned by psychedelics policy reform activists is not to advocate for decriminalization and legalization until lawmakers have a better understanding of the therapeutic potential of the drugs.
“If their goal is to reschedule or decriminalize, they’re going to have an extremely hard time,” advised Dustin Robinson, founder of Iter Investments, a psychedelics venture capital firm. “But if their goal is to create more policies around what’s happening with psychedelics in the therapeutic space, the federal government appears very open to that.”
In November 2022, two House lawmakers launched the Congressional Psychedelics Advancing Clinical Treatments (PACT) Caucus to advocate for research into psychedelic drugs. Additionally, a bipartisan bill from Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and New Jersey Democrat Sen. Cory Booker would create a pathway for psychedelics including psilocybin to be reclassified as Schedule II drugs instead of the more restrictive Schedule I they are currently listed under. But activists caution that the legalization of psychedelics will not happen overnight.
“We’re in the hype phase now,” said Ryan Munevar, campaign director of Decriminalize California, a group advocating for the decriminalization and legalization of entheogenic plants and fungi in the state. “Everything in politics should be taken with a grain of salt. It’s not a system designed to move quickly.”
You could be eating psilocybin mushrooms for self-knowledge, to feel one with the universe, or to see trees breathe like you did the first time you took them. Whatever the reason, you’re probably not eating them for the flavor or texture of dehydrated mushrooms. Much like their psychoactive effects, everyone has a different tolerance for the taste of psychedelic mushrooms.
Considering their flavor can range anywhere from dirt to dookie, people with a taste for magic mushrooms likely acquired it over time. Unfortunately, others trying shrooms for the first time probably will have different enthusiasm for eating dried mushrooms than someone that has already had several positive experiences with them.
So, it doesn’t come as a surprise that first-time consumers and those that prefer not to gag their way through a dose have found comfort in the convenience of having their mushrooms mixed into something more accessible to consumers, like chocolate.
It’s worth noting that even with a few states relaxing their laws against psilocybin mushrooms, they aren’t legalizing it like cannabis—to be grown and sold in certain states. Most states that have decriminalized psilocybin have not legalized the cultivation or sale of it.
Currently, no state has an established legal framework that would allow for the production and sale of lab-tested psilocybin products. Which begs the question, where are these mushroom chocolates coming from, and how do we know what is actually in them?
Let’s start by looking into some of the most popular branded mushroom chocolates sold in smoke shops, bodegas, and online today. Two of the most common ones I encountered in storefronts and online are OneUp and Polkadot Mushroom Belgian Chocolates. The former utilizes Nintendo references and artwork to appeal to consumers. The latter uses attractive packaging, popular snack candy names, and logos like Reese’s as flavors to help push their product. Anyone can find packaging for both on websites like DHGate, Etsy, Amazon, and others. So go ahead and Google it yourself.
Can You Rely on QR Codes to Verify Authenticity?
People trying to cope with their purchases or selling these chocolates will try to convince you that they are reliable if they have a QR code. But what does that prove? OneUp packaging on DHGate comes with QR code stickers. And if you research long enough, you will find at least two different types of QR stickers on Polkadot chocolate bars, and some of the packaging sold online comes with QR code stickers too. So, just having a QR code on it that leads somewhere isn’t sufficient proof of authenticity.
One of the two QR code stickers on Polkadot chocolates points users to a verification site called CannaSafe, which as of last year, is now a closed-down cannabis lab. If you attempt to visit the website listed on the sticker, it is not secure and asks you to scan the QR code for verification.
The other QR stickers found on an alternative Polkadot packaging that people claim is the real Polkadot do not mention any verification service. However, after scratching to reveal the QR code, it leads consumers to a website called “eatpolkadot” which suggests the product is authentic. It also mentions the flavor and the number of times you scanned the QR code.
On the same page, there are also claims about the strains used to make the scanned chocolate bar and the % of psychoactive ingredients like psilocybin in the chocolate, with no mentions of the lab that tested it to make the claims on each package that they lab test to “ensure quality control” feel extra authentic.
The QR code on the packaging, not the sticker, leads to one of two places. One is Polkadot’s backup Instagram page which only has one post and less than 10k followers because their main one is allegedly down. The other is to a Telegram group that calls out the Polkadot packaging that contains TheCannaSafe QR stickers as unauthentic and mentions a few ways to confirm your Polkadots are from the only trusted source directly, not one of the many fakes out there.
It is worth noting that the Telegram points to the size of the bar, the one-time scan sticker, Polkadot logos printed directly on the bars, and an air-tight plastic wrapping to confirm authenticity, which those bars do have. However, the online packaging on DHGate and other sites appears outdated compared to some in stores.
From what you can see online, they come with a mold that doesn’t contain the Polkadot logo. It also has foil wrappers instead of plastic ones, but they do claim to ship with QR code stickers that are not pictured. The Telegram page also states that some fakers have already figured out how to mimic the Polkadot logo directly on the chocolates.
Lab Testing Mushroom Edibles
Regardless, it’s not like you can scratch any QR stickers off to reveal a code that you would then type into some officially regulated website to confirm the authenticity like you might be able to with legally tested and tracked cannabis products. Instead, you scan the code and get taken to a website that tells you what you want to hear. Even if brands lab tested for every batch, the technology required to test the psilocybin content of mushroom edibles isn’t quite there yet.
According to Ian M. Bellinger, an awarded entheogen researcher and co-founder of Hyphae Labs in Oakland with experience testing for psilocybin, there is no single method that he has seen available that can effectively test for psilocybin or any of its analogs in chocolates or edibles yet.
“We have R&D methods, but there are too many similarities between tryptamines, xylenes, and sugars to separate them all for analysis effectively; recoveries tend to be low or skewed,” he stated.
How could you even confirm that the lab test results from a mushroom chocolate brand came from the same batch of mushrooms used to make the specific chocolate you purchased? Who is going to hold them accountable if they make it up? No one.
From the look of it, there are tons of alleged official Polkadot Telegram groups, all claiming the others are fake and asking you to only place orders directly with them. Almost all have the same marketing video of a few attractive women holding their products while strolling around a beach.
Remember to sprinkle in some posts of celebrities like Berner and Diplo seen with Polkadot products to lend to their credibility.
When there is no apparent website or Instagram page that officially hosts information about either company, and there are a bunch of clear copycats out there, how do you decide where to place your trust?
When there is no legal, regulated source of psilocybin chocolates, where can a QR code take you that can guarantee that the packaging claims are equal to what you get? Nowhere.
Mushroom chocolates with appealing black market packaging are quickly devolving into the pre-rolls of the psychedelic world in the sense that you rarely know what people are putting in them.
Dosage is a Gamble
Even if you believe you can access a reliable source for the real OneUp or Polkadot brand, their labels don’t mention the strain of mushrooms used. So how is one expected to tailor their dosage? Most bars say the weight of the mushrooms before producers mix them into the chocolate. Unfortunately, that doesn’t fill you in on the exact strength, especially if you don’t know the strain. An experienced user of psilocybin mushrooms knows that certain strains like Penis Envy can provide intense experiences in smaller doses than other cultivars.
Chocolates and edibles, similar to THC-infused products, appeal to many beginners who trust the packaging to instruct them on the dosage. Still, things won’t be as consistent or clear-cut as legal lab-tested cannabis edibles. For example, some mushroom chocolate bars mention a strain name on the packaging. In contrast, others don’t list any strain or wait for you to scan a QR code after purchase to find out which mix of mushroom strains (and not what quantity of each) is in your chocolate, making it hard to figure out a consistent dosage.
Stop Paying More for Mushroom Edibles Than Cannabis Edibles
Let’s address the unwarranted premium people hustling these chocolates are putting on these products compared to cannabis edibles or magic mushrooms. First, it’s not like making these requires a full-on extraction lab or license, as some cannabis edibles might. Sure, there might be an additional risk involved. Still, most of these trending mushroom chocolates are made by grinding up mushrooms into a powder and mixing them into melted chocolate. None have advertised extracted infusions.
With the current legal status, producers aren’t paying any taxes or facing regulations that would require costly lab testing, and these bars are moving to any and every state in massive bulk. Despite this, these chocolate bars with an alleged 3.5 – 4 grams of psilocybin mushrooms in each are going for anywhere from $40 to $80, depending on what storefront I walk into and how hard I haggle. How does one justify a premium like that on a black-market product whose quality can’t be verified?
The whole situation reeks of greed that induces nightmarish flashbacks to when the cannabis black market started to flood with products like “Mario Carts” and edible products that copied popular snack brands. Smoke shops and bodegas are still pushing similar boof dressed in pretty packaging. It has been a way for trappers to increase the appeal of their low-quality products at the expense of unknowledgeable custies in the cannabis black market, and it’s sad to see history repeat itself as psilocybin moves toward legality.
How many times do we need to learn this lesson?
Whether we are talking weed or mushrooms, any cultivator putting out a consistent quality product does not need to rely on hype-building packaging or the intellectual property of others to make a name for themselves. On the contrary, some of the most impressionable cannabis and hash I’ve ever had came in unmarked jars.
Anyone who benefited from the life-changing experiences psilocybin mushrooms can provide would cringe at the sight of psychedelics blatantly abused for financial gain. It’d be hard to argue any of the companies mentioned above are looking to help make mushrooms more available to anyone that might need them when the prices they charge are far from affordable to most.
When just about anyone and everyone with cash can get their hands on some of these popular mushroom chocolate brands, it is unlikely that they all come from a single source. How anyone believes that one group can grow enough mushrooms to supply every bodega, smoke shop, illicit dispensary, and Instagram trapper to slide in their Telegram DM’s across the nation is beyond me.
There are a lot of claims online that some of the mushroom chocolates sold en masse contain easy-to-obtain research chemicals in place of psilocybin. I am still looking for concrete evidence to confirm this. Contrastingly, many of the ones I spotted in New York shops have mushroom bits.
I’ve had a friend tell me a Polkadot he purchased in a smoke shop in Brooklyn worked as much, if not better, than unprocessed psilocybin mushrooms. On the other hand, I have also met a few people who have said that Polkadots did just about nothing or made them sleepy. I’ve heard a similar variety of experiences with OneUp bars as well.
To make myself clear, I’m not saying that it isn’t possible to purchase chocolates packaged in the brands mentioned earlier that contain psilocybin mushrooms. I am saying there is no way to be sure of its origin, the dosage, or even any actual psilocybin in the ones your local plug sells. So you’d be better off making your mushroom edibles with magic mushrooms you grind yourself.
With the number of different entities online claiming to be representatives of these companies and sharing public Telegram links to place your orders, trying to purchase them online or over Telegram is a risk I would not take. Don’t end up like this heated dude on Reddit who had to learn the hard way after sinking hundreds of dollars trying to purchase mushroom chocolates from what he thought was OneUp’s official website.
If you want to avoid all the uncertainty, take my advice and stop buying mushroom chocolates from randos. Instead, take the time to find a cultivator you can trust, and grind the damn things up yourself to make chocolates, gummies, or a smoothie. And if you’re feeling extra lazy, sprinkle them onto something like pizza or a peanut butter sandwich and fully send it.
Lawmakers in Vermont have introduced several bills aimed at making sweeping changes to the state’s drug laws.
The website Psychedelic Spotlight has a primer on the four separate pieces of legislation that would “decriminalize simple possession of all drugs, expand harm reduction services, remove criminal penalties for using and selling psilocybin and decriminalize certain psychedelic plants and fungi.”
In the case of bill H.423, lawmakers are seeking a monumental reform. The measure, which has a companion bill in the Vermont state Senate, would decriminalize all drugs.
The text of the bill reads: “This bill proposes to change the penalties for possession of a personal use supply of drugs from a misdemeanor or low-level felony to a civil offense subject to a $50.00 penalty. A person cited for such an offense may avoid paying the penalty by agreeing to participate in a screening for substance use disorder treatment and related services. The bill would also establish the Drug Use Standards Advisory Board for the purpose of determining the benchmark personal use dosage and the benchmark personal use supply for regulated drugs with a goal of preventing and reducing the criminalization of personal drug use. Individuals previously arrested for or convicted of possession of a regulated drug in an amount under the benchmark personal use supply amount would also be eligible for immediate sealing of criminal history records. Additionally, to prevent overdose, the bill would also authorize the operation of drug-checking programs to allow individuals to obtain analysis of a regulated drug previously obtained by an individual for purposes of determining the chemical composition of the substance and identifying chemical contaminants. The bill would establish a pilot project to support the development and operation of such programs.”
Two other bills, one filed in the House and the other in the Senate, specifically address psilocybin mushrooms.
The bill H.439, sponsored by a handful of House members, would “decriminalize some chemical compounds found in plants and fungi that are commonly used for medicinal, spiritual, religious, or entheogenic purposes.”
S.114, introduced in the state Senate, would go even further. That measure would remove “criminal penalties for possessing, dispensing, or selling psilocybin,” while also establishing the Psychedelic Therapy Advisory Working Group.
The group would “examine the use of psychedelics to improve physical and mental health and to make recommendations regarding the establishment of a State program similar to Connecticut, Colorado, or Oregon to permit health care providers to administer psychedelics in a therapeutic setting,” according to the text of the legislation.
As that bill referenced, other states have already changed their laws around psychedelic substances such as mushrooms––and more are sure to follow.
Specifically, that measure would set up “procedures for a research facility to obtain the approval of the Department of Health and Human Services to conduct certain studies involving certain controlled substances; decriminalizing certain conduct by persons who are 18 years of age or older involving psilocybin and MDMA if conducted in connection with and within the scope of an approved study; decriminalizing certain conduct by persons who are 18 years of age or older involving 4 ounces or less of fungi that produces psilocybin or psilocin; and providing other matters properly relating thereto.”
But advocates in Vermont may want to temper their expectations. As Psychedelic Spotlight noted, the state’s Republican governor, Phil Scott, “famously vetoed two more restrained drug policy reforms last year, so who knows what he’ll do with this month’s proposals.”
A pair of Democratic state senators in Nevada introduced a bill last week to allow for research into psilocybin, or psychedelic mushrooms, as well as MDMA, drawing inspiration from states like Oregon and Colorado where such substances have been legalized.
The proposal, per the measure’s official legislative summary, would establish “procedures for a research facility to obtain the approval of the Department of Health and Human Services to conduct certain studies involving certain controlled substances; decriminalizing certain conduct by persons who are 18 years of age or older involving psilocybin and MDMA if conducted in connection with and within the scope of an approved study; decriminalizing certain conduct by persons who are 18 years of age or older involving 4 ounces or less of fungi that produces psilocybin or psilocin; and providing other matters properly relating thereto.”
In more plain English, per the Las Vegas Sun, it would “decriminalize psychedelic mushrooms and MDMA for the purpose of studying their effects on an array of behavioral health disorders” and “allow the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services to begin accepting applications from research institutions to use the drugs to treat conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety and addiction.”
The bill was introduced by Democratic state Sens. Rochelle Nguyen and Fabian Donate, both of whom represent Las Vegas.
The bill also has two co-sponsors in the state House of Representatives: Max Carter and Elaine Marzola, also both Democrats.
Las Vegas Weekly reported last fall that Nguyen had “filed a draft request for the 2023 Legislative Session for a bill that ‘revises provisions governing controlled substances’ and deals with matters of decriminalization, regulation and research on psychedelics,” and she said at the time “that it could potentially help with the growing mental health crisis.”
Psychedelics like mushrooms and MDMA have emerged as a new focal point for drug reform advocates, with scientists and medical professionals increasingly drawn to their potential therapeutic benefits.
Las Vegas Weekly reported that Nguyen specifically highlighted the example of Oregon, which legalized psilocybin in 2020.
“The final rules on duration of administrative sessions have been revised to create a new tier for subperceptual doses. These doses are defined as products containing less than 2.5 mg of psilocybin analyte. After a client’s initial session, the minimum duration for a subperceptual dose of 2.5 mg of psilocybin analyte or less is 30 minutes,” the Oregon Health Authority said at the time.
Last year, voters in Colorado approved a measure legalizing psilocybin.
That might have sparked a trend in the mountain west region. In addition to last week’s proposal in Nevada, activists in Utah have likewise mounted an effort to legalize psilocybin mushrooms for medical purposes.
Luz Escamilla, the Democratic leader in the Utah state senate, introduced a bill last month that would allow individuals aged 21 and older with qualifying conditions such as depression or anxiety access to a psilocybin-assisted treatment directly from a psilocybin therapy provider.
“Cannabis has given us a really good opportunity to understand that we can use other natural things … to help us. Now, we have to be careful, and I think we have really good safeguards,” Escamilla said.
“This is not a free-for-all,” Escamilla added. “This is not for everyone, but if it’s for someone that is desperate (for help) with their anxiety, depression and PTSD—that’s pushing many, unfortunately, to suicide, I want them to have access in a way that’s safe, that we can regulate.”
“Breakthrough therapies give us the opportunity to improve the lives of all those suffering from treatment-resistant mental illnesses. It is our duty to make sure veterans have access to every possible treatment option that shows promise, including MDMA- and psilocybin-assisted therapies,” said Mace in a press release. “This legislation will remove the bureaucratic hurdles which have hindered critical research and compassionate use of potentially lifesaving therapies.”
If passed, the bill would amend the CSA’s definition of “currently accepted medical use with severe restrictions” to “include the active ingredients of therapies that receive an FDA Breakthrough Therapy Designation or Expanded Access approval.” In effect, this would allow the Drug Enforcement Administration to move certain “breakthrough therapies” of Schedule I substances into the Schedule II category, which is less restrictive when it comes to research and studies regarding medical compassionate use.
“According to recent studies, certain Schedule I substances such as MDMA and psilocybin could offer major advancements in the treatment of depression, severe post-traumatic stress disorder, and addiction,” said Booker. “This bill will eliminate unreasonably burdensome rules and regulations that delay or prevent researchers from studying these breakthrough mental health treatments, and will provide access to these promising therapies for eligible patients who urgently need care.”
The newer version of the bill includes a section stating that substances that move from Schedule I to Schedule II could be moved back to Schedule I “if the drug no longer has a currently accepted medical use with severe restrictions and the Secretary of Health and Human Services recommends that the Attorney General control the drug in schedule I pursuant to subsections,” the text states. In that case, the Attorney General would act within 90 days of receiving a letter from the Secretary to issue an interim final rule.
Originally, Booker and Paul filed the previous version of this bill in November 2022, but it did not receive any progress in the Senate. Previously, Booker and Paul also introduced “Right to Try” legislation in July 2022. “As a physician, I know how important Right to Try is for patients facing a life-threatening condition,” said Paul last year. “Unfortunately, the federal bureaucracy continues to block patients seeking to use Schedule I drugs under Right to Try. I’m proud to lead this bipartisan legislation with Sen. Booker that will get government out of the way and give doctors more resources to help patients.”
The growing support of psychedelics as medicine also lends evidence that patients could benefit from it. A press release from Mace explains that more than 40 organizations have come out in support of the new bill, such as Veteran Mental Health Leadership Coalition, Reason for Hope, and Special Operations Association of America. It’s also important to mention that the Australian government recently announced on Feb 3 that it would be rescheduling MDMA and psilocybin to allow physicians to prescribe those substances to patients suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or treatment-resistant depression.
Many patients could benefit from access to MDMA and psilocybin treatments, especially veterans. There are other efforts currently underway to help boost research efforts for cannabis as a way to treat PTSD and chronic pain in military veterans. Senate Bill 326, or the VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act, would require that the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) conduct research and report findings to congress regarding its therapeutic value.
City leaders in Ferndale, Michigan voted this week to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms and other natural psychedelics, making the city in the Detroit metropolitan area the fourth municipality in the state to reform laws prohibiting the promising drugs. The Ferndale City Council voted unanimously on February 27 to approve a resolution decriminalizing entheogenic plants and fungi including psilocybin mushrooms, ayahuasca, and dimethyltryptamine (DMT), all of which are psychedelics that show promise as treatments for a variety of mental health conditions.
The resolution passed by the city council does not legalize psychedelic drugs outright. Instead, the measure directs that the “investigation and arrest of persons for planting, cultivating, purchasing, transporting, distributing, engaging in practices with, or possessing Entheogenic Plants or plant compounds which are on the Federal Schedule 1 list shall be the lowest law enforcement priority for the City of Ferndale,” according to the text of the resolution.
The city council resolution was sponsored by Mayor Pro Tem Kat Bruner James. The measure was supported by Decriminalize Nature, a national organization working to reform psychedelics policies from coast to coast, and the Ferndale chapter of the activist group.
“The Ferndale community continues to demonstrate mindfulness and integrity as we move towards collective well-being and community healing in allyship with nature and her medicines,” Decriminalize Nature Ferndale wrote in a social media post after the city council passed the resolution. “We are grateful for all the community support and to Ferndale City Council for passing the resolution to decriminalize entheogenic plants and fungi.”
Psychedelics As Plant Medicines
The two-page resolution includes findings from the city council recognizing that natural psychedelics have been used as plant medicines by humankind for thousands of years. The measure also notes that research has shown that the use of psychedelics can be beneficial to the health and well-being of communities and individuals.
“The use of Entheogenic Plants, which can catalyze profound experiences of personal and spiritual growth, have been shown by scientific and clinical studies and traditional practices to be beneficial to the health and well-being of individuals and communities,” the resolution reads.
After Monday’s vote, psychologist Billy Horton, the co-chair of Decriminalize Nature Ferndale, thanked the city council for the members’ unanimous support of the psychedelics decriminalization ordinance. The activist added that the group would continue to educate the public on the safe use of plant medicines.
“I just want to continue to emphasize the importance of psychedelic and entheogenic plants and the work that’s going on, the research and the science that’s supporting it for psychological and for physical wellness,” he told the council in a statement quoted by the Detroit Metro Times.
Ongoing research has shown that psilocybin has the potential to be an effective treatment for several serious mental health conditions, including PTSD, major depressive disorder, anxiety, and substance misuse disorders.
A study published in 2020 in the peer-reviewed 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.
This week’s approval of the psychedelics decriminalization measure in Ferndale marks the fourth time a Michigan city has decriminalized natural psychedelic drugs. Ann Arbor became the third city nationwide to decriminalize psychedelics with the city council’s adoption of a resolution in September 2020. That was followed by a similar move in Detroit in November 2021, while Hazel Park approved a measure last year. After Monday’s vote in Ferndale, the national headquarters of Decrimalize Nature took to social media to mark the occasion.
“Congrats again to the @decrimferndale team for all of their hard work and effort to pass the resolution in support of entheogenic plant practices in Ferndale Michigan last night,” the group wrote on Instagram. “That’s 4 wins in Michigan so far! Let’s get some statewide decriminalization legislation on the table!!! Go team Nature!”