Psilocybin Legalised in Oregon

After approving the use of psilocybin back in 2020, Oregon is finally set to become the first US state to make the legal use of ‘magic mushrooms’ a reality. Advocates of psychedelic therapies have hailed the move as a major step forward, with other states emboldened to follow.

Psilocybin is the naturally occurring psychedelic compound, produced by various species of fungi. It’s commonly referred to as ‘magic mushrooms’, and has shown significant promise in treating severe depression, PTSD, end-of-life anxiety and a host of other mental health conditions.

And on January 1st, Oregon became the first American state to legalist the adult use of psilocybin, under a bill called Measure 109. Measure 109 was narrowly approved in November of 2020, authorising the establishment of dedicated psilocybin centres where anyone aged 21+ can access mushrooms under supervision.

The move did not include legalising the retail sale of psilocybin, and state-certified facilitators must be present for the duration of the psychedelic trip.

Measure 109 is also limited in its affordability – accessing psilocybin certification and treatment will be very expensive for most. However, the bill does include reduced license fees for vulnerable groups, including veterans, individuals receiving social security or food stamp benefits, and those enrolled in the state’s Health Plan.

While psilocybin, like all psychedelics and many other ‘recreational’ drugs, remains illegal at the federal level, Oregon’s historical decision has spurred other states into similar action.

Similar ballot measures around psilocybin have been approved in New York, Washington, and several other states. Last November, Colorado voters approved the decriminalisation of possession of certain psychedelics, and legalised growing, sharing and private use of psilocybin.

In fact, recent history has seen a shift in attitudes towards psychedelics in the US. Back in 2018, the FDA granted psilocybin ‘breakthrough therapy’ status for major depressive disorder, enabling clinical trials.

Experts expect full FDA approval within the next few years for psilocybin, and even sooner for MDMA. MDMA is another psychedelic – commonly known as ecstasy – which has shown great promise as an aid for psychological treatment.

Scientists are still in the process of understanding the details of psychedelics’ therapeutic properties, but it’s thought drugs like psilocybin and MDMA promote neuroplasticity in the brain, allowing patients to revisit trauma less painfully and rewire their responses more easily.

Clinical trials on the use of psychedelics like mushrooms to treat various mental health conditions are on the rise worldwide.

For example, a recent study on the use of psilocybin to treat alcohol dependency found two doses of mushrooms, in combination with talk therapy, led to an 83% decline in heavy drinking among participants. By the end of the eight-month trial, half of those involved had stopped drinking entirely.

Research published by Ohio State University in October 2022 found many psychiatrists disagree with psilocybin’s classification as a Schedule 1 controlled substance. The professionals surveyed felt the actual risk of abuse of ‘certain psychoactive drugs’ was “inconsistent” with their federal classification.

“These findings add to a growing consensus amongst experts that the current drug policy is not scientifically coherent,” concluded the study.

Finalising psilocybin centres and training supervisors will take time and money – Oregon’s first training course had students paying almost $10,000 for the process. But certified professionals should be on track to begin offering psilocybin services by the end of the year.

Jason Wright, a hospital psychiatric nurse and member of Oregon’s first certification cohort, told the New York Times he was excited about the future of psychedelic treatment. “It’s incredible to be on the front lines of something that has the potential to change our relationship with drugs that should never have been criminalized in the first place”

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