Movements to Decriminalize Psilocybin

Written by Shawn Tucker

Psilocybin and Magic Mushrooms

Psilocybin is the dominant psychedelic compound in certain mushrooms known as “Magic Mushrooms.” There are different varieties of psilocybin mushrooms throughout the world, and these vary in strength and potency.

Mushrooms have long been used as a natural hallucinogen. In recent years, psilocybin has gained traction for its therapeutic applications in treating treatment-resistant depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety disorders, alcohol dependence, and a variety of other conditions. [1, 2]


What Does Decriminalization Mean?

Certain organizations are working to influence legislation throughout the country and the world to decriminalize specific naturally occurring substances that have long been considered as drugs since the war on drugs kicked off in the 1970s.

Decriminalization is a first step, although removing psilocybin (and some other schedule I plants like cannabis) would be more monumental. These initiatives are working at the local level to pass measures to have local law enforcement not stop, arrest, or charge persons found in possession of the substances in question. The exact verbiage and implementing guidance for local law enforcement varies by locality. Organizations like Decriminalize Nature work to provide citizens with the tools they need to get local measures passed in their cities.

So far, successful decriminalization efforts have passed in Denver, CO; Oakland, Santa Cruz, and Arcata (deprioritize) CA; Ann Arbor, Detroit, and Washtenaw County, MI; Somerville, Cambridge, and Northampton MA; Port Townsend and Seattle, WA (deprioritize); and Washington D.C. [3] In Washington D.C., the initiative makes “the investigation and arrest of persons 18 years of age or older, for non-commercial planting, cultivating, purchasing, transporting, distributing, engaging in practices with, and/or possessing entheogenic plants and fungi that are listed in Schedule I of the District of Columbia Uniform Controlled Substances Act of 1981…as among its lowest enforcement priorities.” In other states, the language of making these substances the “lowest priority” is standard.

Oregon has gone even further. Ballot 110 decriminalized personal possession of drugs, and Ballot 109 establishes a program underneath the Oregon Health Authority to have licensed providers administer psilocybin and other fungi products to adults (over age 21).


Decriminalization Now

Movements to decriminalize psilocybin and other natural substances is ongoing. Organizations like Decriminalize Nature have long been focused on grassroots, local efforts to change policy at the lowest level. However, for real change to happen, these substances need to be descheduled and legalized.

In Jamaica, there is a growing medical tourism industry built around the use of psychedelic plants, including mushrooms for use in treating mental health issues. Because of this, Jamaica is at the forefront of research. However, research and long-term studies are still being developed, and they continue to face challenges due to the scheduling of psilocybin, other fungi, and other psychedelic plants.



[1] Johnson MW, Griffiths RR. Potential Therapeutic Effects of Psilocybin. Neurotherapeutics. 2017;14(3):734-740. doi:10.1007/s13311-017-0542-y [journal impact factor=7.62; times cited=25] [2] Bogenschutz MP, Forcehimes AA, Pommy JA, Wilcox CE, Barbosa PC, Strassman RJ. Psilocybin-assisted treatment for alcohol dependence: a proof-of-concept study. J Psychopharmacol. 2015;29(3):289-299. doi:10.1177/0269881114565144 [journal impact factor=4.738; times cited=735] [3] Lowe H, Toyang N, Steele B, et al. The therapeutic potential of psilocybin. Molecules. 2021;26(10):2948. [journal impact factor=4.411; times cited= 25]


Photo Credit: Marco Allegretti on UnSplash

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Shawn Tucker

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