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Understanding The Dangers Of ‘Magic Mushrooms’

If you’ve been following national headlines, then you may have seen the term “Magic Mushrooms” appearing more and more in outlets like The New York Times. The reason is, there’s a movement underway to decriminalize these substances; much like what has happened with marijuana. But are these psychedelics necessarily safe for the general public? That is certainly a topic that is up for debate.

It is actually quite common for “shrooms” (as they’re commonly called) to get lumped in to the marijuana conversation. Some advocates claim that they have medical benefits and are natural healing qualities, similar to cannabis. Others believe that they are not addictive and don’t pose the same risks as harsher drugs like cocaine or heroin.

But, like all psychedelics, there have been negative emotional consequences that have accompanied prolonged usage of magic mushrooms and that is something worth shining a light on. New York Times writer Michael Pollan touched on that in his article, calling out psilocybin; the key ingredient and source of their unique “high.”

“There are risks, both practical and psychological, associated with magic mushrooms and these can be serious,” he writes. “Someone on a high dose of psilocybin is apt to have badly impaired judgment and, unsupervised, can do something reckless. Without proper attention to setting and preparation, people can have absolutely terrifying experiences, sometimes with lasting effects; a recent survey of people who reported having a ‘bad trip’ found that nearly 8 percent of them had sought psychiatric help afterward.”

Denver, Colorado actually took the first step to decriminalize these substances and its citizens are making swift moves to start the process. More than 2,000 voters approved the legalization of psilocybin in that city, even allowing for private cultivation.

As you may recall, Denver was one of the first regions to decriminalize marijuana which, of course, led to widespread follow up efforts throughout the country (including our own city of Los Angeles).

Kevin Matthews, a vocal proponent of the Denver mushroom movement, has continued to emphasize their natural origins and certain research that psilocybin can reduce emotional stress among cancer patients.

“Because psilocybin has such tremendous medical potential, there’s no reason individuals should be criminalized for using something that grows naturally,” he told The New York Times.

But, of course, it remains to be seen whether the legalization of these substances will create more emotional issues with the public at large, due to their psychedelic nature.