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Colorado Legalizes “Magic Mushrooms” a.k.a. Psilocybin and Psilocin

After Oregon, Colorado is the second state to legalize the medicinal use of psilocybin and psilocin – the psychedelic compounds found in magic mushrooms. Medicinal consumption of magic mushrooms is now legal in Colorado for adults aged 21 and above. Therapeutic use of psychedelic mushrooms will be provided in state-regulated centers under the guidance of licensed facilitators. Personal consumption of magic mushrooms is also legal under the new legislation, but it’s banned in schools, public spaces, and while driving. Retail sales are also banned as of now.

Therapeutic benefits of magic mushrooms

There has been considerable research on the medicinal benefits of magic mushrooms over the past few years. Dr. Michael Bogenschutz of the NYU Langone Center carried out the largest controlled trial of magic mushroom use to reduce alcohol use disorder. The experiment revealed that the combined effect of psychotherapy and psilocybin pills helped people suffering from alcoholism reduce drinking for up to 8 months. This was the largest controlled, randomized study of its kind, and supplemented the findings of previous research.

Magic mushrooms have become more popular in recent years, for both medicinal and recreational use. While it is generally regarded as a safe psychedelic, experts still warn against the unsupervised use of psilocybin and psilocin.

A large number of voters show up to cast their opinion

More than 2.2 million people voted in the ballot measure, where 52% voted in favor of legalizing magic mushrooms. Around 93% of the total expected voters turned out to vote, and magic mushrooms won by a narrow margin.

Veronica Lightning Horse Perez, a leading supporter of magic mushroom legalization, said “I’m in awe of what we were able to accomplish”. It is indeed surprising that such a large number of voters turned out for the event, and more than 50% voted in favor of making psilocybin legal. The legislation will come into effect in 2024, and other plant-based psychedelics will be considered for legalization by 2026.

Psilocybin is still illegal in most states and at the federal level. Washington DC has decriminalized the use of magic mushrooms, and Oregon is the only other state where it’s legal. Colorado is set to be the 2nd state where psilocybin is legal and 3rd state where it’s decriminalized.

Supporters and opposers of psilocybin

Proponents of magic mushrooms argue that naturally occurring psychedelics have been used for ages with positive benefits, both from a spiritual and mental health perspective. New research shows that it also has physiological benefits. Moreover, the risks associated with magic mushrooms are negligible and very rare.

However, not everyone is happy with the new legislation. According to critics, this move shows how the United States is moving away from science towards populism even with medicinal ingredients. They also argue that this will send a wrong message to youngsters who will regard psilocybin as a completely harmless drug with no potential side effects.

As the voting figures show us, there isn’t an overwhelming consensus on the legalization of magic mushrooms. Far from it, many people are still against the legalization, and some pushback is likely over the next year before the legislation is enforced in 2024.

Protect Colorado’s Kids is the largest organization lobbying against the legislation. According to its head Luke Niforatos, this move “circumvent(s) science and the FDA”. Protect Colorado’s Kids will also reach out to the Drug Enforcement Administration, FDA, and U.S. Attorney for Colorado to intervene in the legislation.

Supporters of magic mushroom, on the other hand, regard this vote as a big victory for their cause. Natural Medicine Colorado, the leading lobby in favor of magic mushroom legalization, said the vote was “a truly historic moment”. According to Natural Medicine Colorado, residents of the state have already experienced the medicinal benefits of psilocybin, and that has motivated them to take a stand in its favor.

Is a psychedelic drug revolution on its way?

The United States of America is undoubtedly going through a drug revolution. With recreational marijuana being legalized in Maryland and Missouri, marijuana is now legal in 21 states. Even conservative states are showing growing support for psychedelics, particularly naturally occurring psychedelics that have proven medicinal benefits.

The ballot initiative now makes growing, possessing, and consuming magic mushrooms legal. However, it’s still illegal to sell magic mushrooms. State-regulated healing centers cannot sell magic mushrooms, but only provide them to clients for medicinal use under their supervision.

There are mixed opinions on the legalization of psilocybin, but mental health proponents are by and large optimistic about the legislation. According to doctors, researchers, and even the FDA, regulated and supervised use of psilocybin has the potential to cure mental health issues like depression, addictive personality disorder, anxiety, and PTSD.

Photo by DiamondRehab Thailand

Psychedelics: A Cure for Alcoholism?

Millions of people around the world are struggling with the menace of alcoholism. Alcoholism, or alcohol use disorder, is an unhealthy addiction to alcohol. It involves a sequence of alcohol consumption that involves issues restraining your drinking, always being obsessed with alcohol, and drinking even when it leads to issues. This condition also involves the need to progressively increase your alcohol use to attain the previous effect. People may also experience withdrawal symptoms when they suddenly stop drinking or rapidly reduce their consumption.

Alcoholism also includes a disorder called binge drinking. In binge drinking, a man takes five or more alcoholic drinks in two hours. For a female, it is four drinks or more in two hours.

Alcoholism is a serious issue as it poses a great threat to your health. It can cause significant distress, hampering your day-to-day life. The symptoms can be mild or severe. Even a mild case of alcoholism should not be ignored, as it can easily escalate, leading to life-threatening medical problems.

Psychedelics – definition

Psychedelics, also called hallucinogens, are a group of psychoactive or hallucinogenic drugs that produce changes in mood, perception, and cognition. They influence all the human senses and alter a person’s judgment, emotions, and perception of time. These drugs can also cause people to hallucinate, making them hear or see nonexistent things.

There are numerous kinds of psychedelics. Some of them are naturally occurring, like those taken from fungi, leaves, seeds, and trees. Some of them are synthetic or made in laboratories. Some of the most frequently used psychedelics are LSD, DMT, and psilocybin.

Psychedelics can be classified into two major groups:

  • Dissociative psychedelics like PCP
  • Classic psychedelics like LSD

For several decades, LSD was the most widely used psychedelic. Even though it was synthesized in 1938, its psychedelic properties were not known till 1943. LSD largely has cerebral effects, and one trip can even go on for 10 hours.

Psilocybin, too, is a preferred drug being extensively studied for its psychedelic properties. It is believed that these magic mushrooms date back to 9000BC. They create a “whole-body” effect for the user, and one trip can last you for about six hours.

Efficacy of psychedelics in AUD treatment

Scientists and researchers have been conducting detailed studies on the effects of psychedelics on alcoholism for several years. Research, including both human and animal studies, has yielded a large body of evidence.

Psychedelics have also been previously used to treat alcoholism. The earliest such case was in 1953 when LSD was used in Canada for treating AUD.

Humphry Osmond and Abram Hoffer recommended the use of LSD to treat AUD since LSD was known to mimic the symptoms of delirium tremens (DT) without physical effects. Using this theory, they successfully treated a male and a female patient with a high dose of LSD. Numerous other psychiatrists also followed in the footsteps of Hoffer and Osmond. Studies were conducted on larger groups of patients to arrive at a hypothetical conclusion on the effect of psychedelics on alcoholism. Some of the findings are as follows:

  • LSD had remarkable benefits during three-month and six-month follow-ups. The study subjects showed no notable changes during longer follow-ups.
  • At short-term follow-ups, LSD seemed to have a remarkable effect on abstinence, with people reporting a reduction in cravings.

The effects of psilocybin were also studied by several researchers. The studies showed that abstinence increased impressively after taking psilocybin. The cravings were also reduced, and the study subjects experienced no side effects. The participants experienced several positive effects during psilocybin-based treatment, such as:

  • Changes in perception of space and time
  • Positive mood
  • Consistent dedication to change
  • Motivational enhancement
  • Changes in relationship with alcohol

Studies were also conducted in a non-clinical setting to assess the use of alcohol after psychedelic treatment. It was observed that about 83% of the participants were positively influenced by the use of psychedelics, and they could considerably decrease their dependence on alcohol.

Mechanisms of AUD treatment using psychedelics

Even though the efficacy of psychedelic treatment has been scientifically proven, more study is needed to understand the actual process happening. The studies being conducted now are largely focused on the positive effects it creates in the lives of patients. Many of the study subjects reported a reduction in alcohol consumption and, in some cases, even complete abstinence. Patients became self-accepting and started to have a positive outlook.

Using psychedelics is a good approach to treating AUD. Under the strict guidance of a medical practitioner, you can solve the debilitating problem of alcoholism once and for all.