Coming up in the 90s, blazing whatever weed was available and munching on mushrooms any chance we got, we spent many long hours deep in thought about the universe and everything in it, but never could we have imagined how today’s society would be treating cannabis and now psilocybin.
Until very recently, really, even merely mentioning “magic mushrooms” to most folks would put you straight into their Crazy category, and in all but a select few regions of this country, getting caught by the cops while in possession or under the influence can turn a good trip real bad, real fast.
Much like with weed, though, the stigma surrounding psilocybin is vanishing as society at large comes to the realization that they’ve been duped for decades about another potentially beneficial gift from nature.
Six major U.S. cities – Oakland, Denver, Santa Cruz, Portland (OR), Berkeley & Chicago – have passed plant medicine decriminalization measures in the past two years that include protections for those in possession of psilocybin. 100 other cities are contemplating similar moves. Two states – Cali and Oregon – have statewide ballot measures concerning psilocybin decriminalization out for signatures now.
Understandably, many comparisons are being made between the path that cannabis has blazed to get to where it is now and the fast-track that shrooms seem to be on, and we will cover those similarities (and differences) in this article. But, as usual, we like to look at these topics from the heart of the culture and there is a massive crossover between the cannabis and psilocybin cultures so we wonder: Will the psilocybin movement grow past needing to “know a guy/girl” who can get it for you or cultivating your own, and into a more branded, retail experience as cannabis has become over the past 20+ years?
Will we have psilocybin dispensaries… should we?
In 33 states and counting, cannabis basically took two paths out of prohibition – the medical path and the criminal justice path – beginning in 1996 with California’s infamously self-regulated but highly efficient “MMJ” marketplace.
The first path was really formed by gradually implanting the term “medical marijuana” into the minds of all Americans which, again, really took hold during Cali’s Prop 215 era. Even before most educated cannabis connoisseurs had even heard of CBD, we all knew that the plant absolutely had medicinal value. We all knew people who had used the plant to remedy some ailment or another. As access spread across the country, those stories began to stack up and many of the most vocal opponents of cannabis changed their tune after seeing loved ones find benefit.
Even though the Feds keep cannabis, and psilocybin, on Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, the FDA has tacitly acknowledged that such classification is bullshit since they greenlit GW Pharma’s CBD tincture, Epidiolex, which is now on the market for children with intractable epilepsy.
The fact that recent polling shows that 2/3rds of Americans are in favor of nationwide cannabis legalization can be attributed not so much to people thinking it’ll make them look cool smoking it at a party, but rather that most people now know that the medicinal value of the plant far, far outweighs any perceived danger in it.
In this regard, cannabis and psilocybin have a lot in common… sort of.
Big Pharma is by no means done trying to pry cannabis apart, but so far their attempts to synthesize the plant have fallen far short in terms of efficacy or demand. As legalization for cannabis spreads and research expands, it will still start with a sprouted seed.
We’re not so sure about psilocybin. We all have a lot to learn about this incredible form of fungi but we just don’t see western medicine settling for mushroom farming as its solution. Within the past year, the FDA granted “breakthrough therapy” to psilocybin, once again shitting al over the validity of the Controlled Substances Act and giving psilocybin a fast-track on research to determine how it may help patients suffering from severe depression.
This came after a Johns Hopkins study of the substance in which 80 cancer patients who had never ingested psilocybin before were given a controlled dose and 80% of them reported that their “current sense of personal well-being or life satisfaction” increased from “moderate” to “very much” over the course of the year following the treatment.
Labs are already growing psilocybin in bacteria so there is little chance that we’ll get a 20 year run of an unregulated “medical mushroom” market.
BREAKER OF CHAINS
The second path, criminal justice reform, is something that cannabis is still trying to get right. There is no doubt, however, that pretty much everyone is tired of seeing people get locked up or even have their records wrecked over a plant and it is that sentiment that continues to fuel legalization movements across the country.
Clearly, to get from where we were back in the 90s to where we are now has required a lot of work by activists and advocates, and it began humbly with decriminalization measures that evolved into initiated ordinances and voter initiatives, as we are seeing happen now with psilocybin.
We’ve said it before and we will say it again – decriminalization is always only the first step. It is never enough on its own. It typically only covers simple possession and does nothing to protect cultivators, caregivers, or providers. You cannot open up the Demand-side of a microeconomy and continue to criminalize the Supply-side.
So while we may see dozens more municipalities move forward on psychedelics through the rest of the year and beyond, that should not be confused for legalization.
Again, look at weed – until these motherfuckers are taxing us every time we touch it, it probably ain’t “legal”.
Activists in Oregon are pushing hard to get Measure 34 on the ballot in November. This measure goes far beyond what we have seen so far, especially considering that it would take effect statewide if enacted, but it still lands well short of a taxed and regulated retail model as the state currently enjoys with cannabis. If passed as written, Measure 34 would essentially establish a ‘patient-caregiver’ model that could allow for psilocybin-assisted therapy in controlled environments.
Again, a step forward, but not the ultimate destination on this trip.
To answer the question posed at the jump, though… no, we do not think that we’ll ever see legal, licensed, mushroom dispensaries modeled after the cannabis experience as we know it now. Hell, the storefront retail cannabis experience will probably change drastically in the years to come.
Call us optimists, but we envision a more advanced form of legalization for psilocybin and other psychedelic “plant medicines” that involves a mix of mail-order options and local networking like booths at farmer’s markets, caregiver-patient relationships, etc.
Maybe we’re hallucinating when we picture that but if the alternative is overbearing regulation, bullshit branding, an influx of investment capital, and a whitewashing of the culture that got us here, we’ve been there and done it with weed here in California… talk about a long, strange trip!
LIKES SHROOMS, GOOD PERSON
At the root (or spore) of it all is the fact that we continue to have to fight for our own sovereign rights over what naturally growing substances we put into our bodies… from alcohol a century ago to cannabis over the past two decades & now to entheogens like psilocybin mushrooms.
While much of this fight will happen in the stuffy offices of state and local lawmakers, just as much will take place in the arena of public opinion. This is why we feel it is so important to speak for this medicine and help to lift the stigma so that more people feel comfortable coming out with their own stories of everything from heroic doses to microdoses and how it helped them.
We may not get shroom dispensaries out of this whole deal, but if we play it right we shouldn’t need them.
To read our past coverage of this emerging topic CLICK OR TAP HERE