By John Vibes
As previously reported by The Mind Unleashed, activists in Denver have been making an unprecedented push for the decriminalization of psychedelic mushrooms. Activists proposed a legal measure that would do away with felony charges for people caught in possession of mushrooms; and over the past year they have been collecting signatures to get the measure put on the city’s election ballot.
Activists have managed to gather over 5,000 signatures, which is enough to put the initiative on the ballot in May.
Kevin Matthews, campaign director for Decriminalize Denver, believes that the tides of public opinion are turning against prohibition.
“I think it’s going to be pretty big. There are a lot of people throughout our country that want to see the drug policy laws change around psychedelics and psilocybin in particular,” Matthews said.
Matthews also said that this change in policy “would not increase access at all” but merely prevent average users from being prosecuted.
“There’s a lot of support for this, and now that we’re on the ballot and this is official, we have a real chance here to have this national conversation,” Matthews said.
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock made a statement saying that he “will not be supporting this ballot measure.”
A 2014 report in The Journal of Psychopharmacology suggested that psilocybin mushrooms could help long-time smokers kick their habit. The report sourced a John Hopkins study, authored by Matthew W. Johnson, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
The study featured a small test sample, but is one of a series of tests at Hopkins that have shown the healing powers of psychedelic compounds.
Six months after the study, 80 percent of the test subjects had quit smoking and showed no signs of turning back. This success rate is far better than many other methods which are said to help people quit smoking. In comparison, many products on the market have success rates of 30 or 35 percent.
“Quitting smoking isn’t a simple biological reaction to psilocybin, as with other medications that directly affect nicotine receptors. When administered after careful preparation and in a therapeutic context, psilocybin can lead to deep reflection about one’s life and spark motivation to change,” Johnson said.
Ten men and five women, all mentally and physically healthy, participated in the study. The average age of participants was 51; they smoked, on average, 19 cigarettes a day for 31 years; and had repeatedly tried and failed to stop smoking. Ten participants reported minimal past use of hallucinogens, with the most recent use being an average of 27 years before study’s intake procedure. Five had never used hallucinogens.
Johnson’s next study will use MRI scans to compare success rates for people who take psilocybin with those of people who use nicotine patches.
In 2012, John Hopkins made news in psychedelic research with a study showing that the psychedelic experience can help terminally ill patients come to terms with their own mortality.
According to a more recent study from the Psychedelic Research Group at Imperial College London, published in the journal Psychopharmacology, psychedelic mushrooms tend to make people more resistant to authority. They also found the psychedelic experience induced by these mushrooms also cause people to be more connected with nature.
It was announced last year that a startup called Compass Pathways had received approval from The Food and Drug Administration to develop treatments for depression, and possibly even pharmaceuticals, with psilocybin, the active ingredient in psychedelic “magic mushrooms.”
Compass Pathways launched in the UK in 2016 thanks to funding from PayPal founder Peter Thiel. While the company is just now receiving approval to run trials in the US, they were already approved in Canada, the Netherlands and at their base of operations in the UK.