Last Updated on March 25, 2020 by Dr. Alberto Solà

Activists in both Oregon and Denver are hard at work right now to legalize psilocybin, or “magic mushrooms.”  This may sound a little unconventional and unexpected at first glance, but their reasons are strong and true, and they have the best interests of mental health in mind.  Although many people may think of psilocybin simply as a psychedelic party drug ingested mostly by college-aged hippies, or as a spiritual aid used by some groups of Native Americans, there are many applications of this substance in the field of psychology and psychiatry, and there are many medical doctors who are in support of this movement, too.  Supporters of this push for legalization feel very strongly about the good that could come from psilocybin for all, and they are making great strides in getting closer to their goals.

So Far

Psilocybin is not legal in Denver or in Oregon yet, but the movement has begun and it is growing.  The leaders in the push for legalization in these two locations began their efforts simultaneously, but entirely separate from one other – it is mere coincidence that the two areas are working towards legalization at the same exact time. Nationwide, psilocybin has been a Schedule I drug since the 1970s.  This classification is for drugs that are seen to have no medical applications, and which have a high potential for abuse.  However, a lot  of learning and discovery has happened since that time.  Research today suggests more and more that psychedelics can be exactly what people need to get to where they would like to be as far as mental health is concerned.  Tom and Sheri Eckert, a pair of married psychologists who are co-sponsoring the bill, spearhead the Oregon legalization efforts.  Tom was quoted in a recent article saying that “psychedelics are uniquely powerful when it comes to lasting change in the human being” – and many professionals agree with him.  Tom and his wife hope that the Psilocybin Service Initiative will appear on the 2020 ballot in their state.  So far, the Oregon Attorney General has approved language for a ballot measure, and activists there continue to collect signatures in support, while facing absolutely no organized opposition to their movement currently.

In Denver, the push is city-wide, rather than statewide.  Kevin Matthews is one of the leaders of the movement there, and his organization is called Denver for Psilocybin.  This organization worked hard to college the 4,726 signatures they needed by January 7thof this year to get their cause recognized and to move onto the next step.  Currently, Colorado’s Right to Try Act, which was passed in 2014, allows doctors to prescribe psilocybin-based treatments for terminally ill patients if all other options have been exhausted, but no other use of the substance is allowed at all in Denver or in Colorado in general – not even for research.

What Legalization Would Look Like

The end goals of these two movements are quite different.    In Oregon, for the statewide measure, proponents are pushing for clinical legalization.  Only licensed doctors and facilities would have legal access to psilocybin, and only they could administer it.  Patients – twenty-one and older only – who wish to experience a psilocybin treatment would need to visit a facility, meet with a doctor, ingest the drug as tea, as mushrooms, or in synthetic form, and would stay at the facility four four to six hours until the effects wore off.  At the end of the session, the patient would get a ride home from someone, but would return days later to meet with his or her doctor to analyze and integrate the experience into his or her being.  This second visit is vital.  It is through this doctor-assisted therapy that the patient would truly benefit after his or her psilocybin experience.  The whole process would be referred to as Psilocybin Assisted Therapy and would be used to treat conditions such as PTSD, depression, and anxiety.

In Denver, on the other hand, psilocybin legalization would look at lot more like cannabis legalization.  Activists behind this movement feel that because psilocybin is a natural substance, that it should be available to all without penalty.  They seek to decriminalize personal use, possession, and growth of psilocybin mushrooms within the city limits of Denver.  Decriminalization would imply that any use of this substance would become a very low law enforcement priority, and would further “prohibit the city from spending resources to impose criminal penalties” for possession or cultivation of psilocybin.  Removing penalties against psilocybin possession and use would allow people to go on their own psychedelic journeys outside of a mental health office or facility, and would thereby allow them to work on their mental health independently whenever they chose to do so.

Why Now?

There are many reasons people are pushing for this legalization right now. The recent widespread legalization of cannabis has opened to doors to much questioning about the necessity of criminalization of other drugs that could also be medically helpful.  As a result, much research is being done on substances such as psilocybin.  For a one example, a 2016 study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacologyfoundthat psilocybin “produces substantial and sustained decreases in depression and anxiety in patients with life threatening cancer.”  A recent federal clinical trial aims to investigate this further in an attempt to treat patients with treatment-resistant depression.  Further, an even more widespread application of psilocybin experiences was demonstrated in a recent Johns Hopkins study

, which showed that as many as 80% of people who used psilocybin to quit smoking weren’t smoking a year later.  It seems that this substance could be very helpful to a lot of people in a wide variety of areas.

What Next?

There is still a long way to go in both Oregon and Denver before psilocybin will become officially legal.  There are many hurdles and obstacles to overcome.  Organizers in Oregon hope to raise $500,000 to help promote their cause in time for the 2020 general election, and need to get 112,000 signatures. Denver activists succeeded in getting the number of signatures they needed to get noticed, but their movement can get shut down in many places along the way to the vote.  In both cases, there are many people working hard to make this happen, and it will be interesting to see how it unfolds.  Even if neither of these measures passes in the end, it is unlikely that the world will have seen the last of these efforts. Many people strongly believe in the power of psilocybin for mental health, and as more and more studies prove its incredible effects, it is likely that Americans will see this substance legalized in parts of our country in our lifetimes.

At Clear Sky Recovery, it is no surprise to us that there are positive applications of psilocybin for mental health.  We are quite experienced with administering ibogaine to our clients to help them have an experience that will lead them easily to recovery from drugs and alcohol.  Our clients report few if any withdrawal symptoms, and leave our facilitywith a deeper understanding of themselves and a new lease on life.   Please call us todayto find out more about our ibogaine detox treatmentand to help us help you determine whether ibogaine is right for you.