West Hollywood might soon become one of the few places in the world where you can trip on shrooms legally.
But what does that mean exactly? What happens if City Council moves forward with the plan they are discussing with residents at a town hall at 6:30 PM today?
WHAT IS PSILOCYBIN?
Psilocybin (sill-oh-sigh-bin) is a naturally occurring psychedelic compound that is found in more than 200 species of mushrooms, collectively known as psilocybin mushrooms or “magic mushrooms”. These species belong to multiple genera, including Psilocybe, Panaeolus, and Copelandia.
- Psilocybe cubensis: This species is found in subtropical and tropical environments, often in the dung of grazing animals like cows and horses. It’s common in regions such as Central and South America, Southeast Asia, Australia, and the southern United States.
- Psilocybe semilanceata (Liberty Cap): This species prefers temperate climates and is often found in grassy fields, pastures, and meadows, particularly those grazed by sheep. It’s widespread across Europe and has also been found in parts of North America, Asia, Australia, and South America.
- Psilocybe azurescens: Native to the Pacific Northwest region of the United States, particularly Oregon and Washington, this species grows in sandy soils rich in woody debris.
- Panaeolus cyanescens (Blue Meanie): This species is found in subtropical and tropical areas, often in dung or well-manured grounds. It’s been reported in places like Central and South America, the Caribbean, East Africa, Southeast Asia, and Australia.
- Copelandia cyanescens: This species is also found in subtropical and tropical areas, particularly in dung. It’s common in places like Hawaii, the Caribbean, Central and South America, and parts of Africa and Asia.
These mushrooms are typically characterized by their long, slender stems and dark gills. When bruised or crushed, many species of psilocybin mushrooms will turn a bluish color due to the oxidation of the psilocin compound, a close relative of psilocybin. The potency of psilocybin and psilocin varies among different species and even among different specimens of the same species.
Psilocybin has had a complex history as a black market substance.
In the mid-20th century, psilocybin and its source, “magic mushrooms,” were relatively unknown in the Western world. It wasn’t until the 1950s that the substance entered the public consciousness, largely due to the work of R. Gordon Wasson, a vice president of JP Morgan & Co., who documented his experiences with psilocybin mushrooms in Mexico. His account, published in Life magazine in 1957, sparked widespread interest.
The 1960s and 1970s saw a surge in the recreational use of psilocybin, particularly within countercultural movements. It was during this time that psilocybin, along with other psychedelics like LSD, became associated with anti-establishment and anti-war sentiments. This led to a backlash from authorities, culminating in the US Controlled Substances Act of 1970, which classified psilocybin as a Schedule I drug, the most restrictive category.
The classification of psilocybin as a Schedule I substance made it illegal to manufacture, distribute, or possess the drug. This effectively pushed psilocybin into the black market, where it has remained for decades. Despite its illegal status, use of the substance persisted, often associated with spiritual or introspective experiences.
In recent years, there’s been a renewed interest in psilocybin, particularly for its potential therapeutic uses. This has led to a reevaluation of its legal status in some regions. For instance, in 2020, the state of Oregon passed a measure to allow regulated medical use of psilocybin, and the city of Denver, Colorado decriminalized psilocybin in 2019.
However, despite these changes, psilocybin remains a black market substance in much of the world, its use and distribution still largely clandestine. The future of psilocybin as a black market drug is uncertain, as shifting cultural and legal landscapes continue to reshape its story.
WHERE IT’S ILLEGAL
- United States: Psilocybin is classified as a Schedule I drug, making it illegal. However, there are exceptions. In Oregon, Measure 109 was passed in November 2020, allowing regulated medical use. Denver, Colorado; Santa Cruz, California; and Oakland, California have decriminalized psilocybin to varying degrees.
- Canada: Psilocybin is classified as a Schedule III drug, making it illegal. However, in August 2020, the Minister of Health granted an exemption to four terminally ill patients, allowing them to use psilocybin as part of their end-of-life care.
- United Kingdom: Psilocybin is classified as a Class A drug, making it illegal.
- Australia: Psilocybin is classified as a Schedule 9 prohibited substance, making it illegal.
- Brazil: Psilocybin mushrooms are legal to possess, consume, and sell.
- British Virgin Islands: Psilocybin mushrooms are legal to possess, consume, and sell.
- Portugal: Psilocybin is decriminalized. It’s not a criminal offence, but it’s still illegal, and possession can result in mandatory drug education.
- Vietnam: Psilocybin mushrooms are legal to possess, consume, and sell.
- Austria: Psilocybin is illegal, but spores and grow kits are legal.
- Spain: Psilocybin is illegal, but cultivation for personal use and consumption in private areas is decriminalized.
- netherlands: Psilocybin is illegal, but “magic truffles” and grow kits are legal to sell.
EFFECTS OF LEGALIZATION
In Denver, the decriminalization of psilocybin has not had a significant impact on public health or safety, according to a report from a city advisory group. This report included input from local law enforcement representatives. Kevin Matthews, an organizer of the psilocybin campaign, stated that not much changed in Denver after the deprioritization of psilocybin enforcement. However, some anticipate an increase in black-market sellers of psilocybin as the state loosens its drug laws.
In Santa Cruz, the City Council voted unanimously to decriminalize the use, possession, or cultivation of psychoactive plants and fungi for people 21 and older. This resolution doesn’t make it legal to use, possess, or cultivate natural psychedelics, but it means that the city won’t use resources to investigate or arrest people for doing so. The resolution only decriminalizes these activities at a personal level, meaning commercial activities could result in penalties.
In Oakland, the City Council voted unanimously to decriminalize psychedelic mushrooms and other psychoactive plants and fungi. This resolution states that city money will not be used to assist in the enforcement of laws imposing criminal penalties for the use and possession of Entheogenic Plants by adults. It also states that investigating people for growing, buying, distributing, or possessing the substances shall be among the lowest law enforcement priority for the City of Oakland. However, it does not allow for the commercial sale or manufacturing of the mushrooms.
These changes are relatively recent, and the long-term effects and impacts are still being studied and understood.
WHAT IT FEELS LIKE
The experience of using psilocybin is often described as a metaphysical voyage through time and space. The initial phase, or the “come up,” can take about 15 minutes, akin to the slow ascent of a roller coaster’s first big hill. Once the effects kick in, users may experience a range of emotions, from euphoria and peacefulness to confusion and even frightening hallucinations. The effects can vary greatly based on the individual’s mental state, personality, and immediate environment. It’s a journey that can feel like a lifetime condensed into four to six hours, offering a unique perspective on one’s life patterns and potential for change.
The process of using psilocybin is often guided by experienced facilitators or “guides” who can help navigate the intense experience. These guides are crucial in creating a safe container for the psychedelic journey. They can help manage any challenging moments and ensure that the individual’s experience is not compromised. The use of psilocybin is often approached with intention, reverence, and understanding. It’s not just about consuming the substance; it’s about beginning on a journey of self-discovery and healing. The ultimate goal is not just to experience the psychedelic effects of psilocybin, but to use these experiences as a tool for personal growth and transformation.
WHAT IS MICRODOSING?
Microdosing involves the consumption of small, sub-perceptual amounts of a psychedelic substance, such as psilocybin. The doses are typically so small (around 0.05 to 0.25 grams) that they don’t produce the intense, consciousness-altering effects associated with a full dose. Instead, microdosing is often used as a form of mental health maintenance, providing subtle changes in mood, cognition, and perception. Many individuals, including a growing number of mothers, are turning to microdosing as a natural alternative to traditional pharmaceuticals. Users often report enhanced creativity, increased focus, and improved emotional well-being. However, it’s important to note that while many find microdosing beneficial, it’s not a panacea. It’s one tool among many in the pursuit of mental health and wellness.
Flashback Hallucinations: This condition, formerly known as hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD), can occur long after the psilocybin has left the person’s system. The person might reexperience a hallucination from a previous shroom trip. These flashbacks can sometimes occur even years after last taking the substance but are typically fleeting. The person also tends to be aware that they are hallucinating.
Changes in Personality or Mood: Psilocybin can cause shifts in a person’s personality or mood. While the exact long-term effects are unpredictable and largely unknown, there is some evidence to suggest that small doses of psilocybin could be used in mental health or substance use treatment. However, this use is monitored by medical professionals in a controlled setting, and the long-term side effects may not be the same when used recreationally.
Tolerance: With continued use, a person can develop a tolerance to psilocybin, meaning they need to consume more of the substance to achieve the same effects.
Physical Effects: Long-term physical effects are rare and are sometimes believed to be connected to underlying psychological disorders that were present before taking the drug. Some researchers suggest that long-term health problems from psilocybin result from multiple doses and use with other substances at the same time.
Gram: A gram of shrooms, depending on the mushroom species, goes for around $10, with an average range of $7 to $15. A gram is often considered a microdose, enough to elicit some of shrooms’ euphoric and creative effects without the hallucinations or intense visuals.
Eight (3.5 grams): An eighth of shrooms typically costs around $30 to $40. The price can vary depending on the species of mushroom and the freshness of the harvest.
Quarter Ounce (7 grams): A quarter ounce of shrooms costs around $55 to $75 depending on the species and vendor. A good price benchmark for higher amounts is $100 for a half ounce (14 g) and $200 for a full ounce (28 g).
pound: A pound of shrooms runs about $2,500 on average, though it’s nearly impossible to find a dealer who will sell you a full pound due to the legal repercussions.
Commercial cultivation of psilocybin mushrooms is taking root in a few key locations around the globe. In the United States, Oregon has emerged as a hub for this burgeoning industry. Businesses like Satori Farms PDX in Portland have obtained licenses to grow these psychedelic fungi, marking a significant shift in the state’s legal landscape.