Credit: Madi via Wikimedia

By Matt Nagle

Decriminalize California, an activist group dedicated to legalizing psilocybin mushrooms, has submitted ballot language to the state attorney general’s office to get a psilocybin decriminalization measure on the Nov. 3, 2020 state ballot. To get on the ballot, 623,212 valid signatures are needed, and 50% +1 of the vote is needed to win the November election.

As stated in the 21-page initiative draft, its purpose is “to decriminalize the personal possession, storage, use, cultivation, manufacturing, distribution in personal possession amounts without profit, transport, and consumption of psilocybin mushrooms and the chemical compounds contained in them for any person over the age of 18, or for any person younger than 18 with parental or guardian consent, by amending California Health and Safety Codes.”

The draft is posted on the Decriminalize California website (https://decrimca.org) for a 30-day public comment period, leaving the group five days to make any changes.

Psilocybin mushrooms have already been decriminalized in Denver and Oakland, Calif. In Oregon, the movement for decriminalization mirrors California. The ballot title for the Psilocybin Service Initiative, or Initiative Petition #34, was certified on Sept. 6. Now supporters can gather signatures to get the issue on the ballot in 2020. It is unclear whether a movement to legalize mushrooms is underway in Washington State, as numerous Google searches and additional research brought no results.

The logic is that as cannabis gains acceptance with legalization state by state, if not collectively through a federal ruling, other naturally growing plants like “magic” mushrooms should follow suit. This would also help allow for increased scientific research into the considerable healing properties of psilocybin mushrooms and the chemical compounds contained in them.

The healing gifts of psilocybin for those with mental and/or physical ailments are already getting attention. Last year, the Food and Drug Administration granted Compass Pathways a “breakthrough therapy” designation for psilocybin therapy for treatment-resistant depression. The FDA designates a drug as a “breakthrough therapy” if preliminary clinical evidence shows that it may demonstrate substantial improvement over available therapy.

A life sciences company dedicated to accelerating patient access to evidence-based innovation in mental health, Compass Pathways’ Executive Chairman George Goldsmith said, “This is great news for patients. We are excited to be taking this work forward with our clinical trial on psilocybin therapy for treatment-resistant depression. The FDA will be working closely with us to expedite the development process and increase the chances of getting this treatment as quickly as possible to people suffering with depression.”

According to the Journal of Psychopharmacology, experience with psilocybin is associated with decreased risk of opioid abuse and dependence, and is also associated with reduced odds of committing crimes like theft, assault, property crime and violent crime. The U.S. National Library of Medicine – National Institutes of Health found that psilocybin use is associated with reduced depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, suicides, alcohol dependence and tobacco cessation.

In addition, according to the Global Drug Survey 2017, psilocybin is the safest of all illicit drugs in terms of needing to seek emergency medical treatment. And the Public Library of Science One Journal states that psilocybin is not known to cause brain damage, is regarded as non-addictive, and is not an independent risk factor for mental health problems.

A study at Johns Hopkins University showed that psilocybin produced substantial and sustained decreases in depression and anxiety in patients with life-threatening cancer. “High-dose psilocybin produced large decreases in clinician- and self-rated measures of depressed mood and anxiety, along with increases in quality of life, life meaning, and optimism, and decreases in death anxiety,” the study states.

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