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Will shrooms ever be legal?

If you’re someone who enjoys psychedelics, you may be wondering if they will ever be legal. Using the trajectory of cannabis legalization as an example, there is hope that psilocybin will be legal for recreational consumption one day relatively soon. 

After decades on the list of illicit substances, researchers in Canada and around the world say that mushrooms can deliver life-changing effects for mental illness, palliative care, and more. With that in mind, is it time to legalize shrooms?

Is Canada in the process of legalizing shrooms?

Last February, Elizabeth May, co-leader of the Green Party, and other MPs joined a delegation of patients and health care practitioners to call on the federal government to make psilocybin more readily available. However, there has been slow change in regulations related to psilocybin use. At this point in time, shrooms are only legally dispensed to end-of-life patients, or possibly those participating in clinical trials related to treatment-resistant depression. 

The federal government is funding the clinical trials which show the promise of psilocybin as a medication for the treatment of mental health disorders and the like. There are still many problems with the medical access of shrooms, but there is improvement from even just a couple years ago.

Why are people more interested in shrooms now?

People have started to recognize that the war on drugs perpetrated by the US and then the Canadian government has been a total failure. It was rooted in racism at its conception, and has been used mostly as a tool of a conservative government system to uphold racist systems by putting people of colour in jail for the crime of drug possession, even at incredibly small amounts. 

Research into the medical properties of shrooms is also increasing. Microdosing has become a hot topic, and whenever something becomes trendy so quickly, it is sure to catch the mainstream media’s attention. Perhaps that is why shrooms are more popular in the mainstream consciousness nowadays than they were in the past.

Will the reality of legal magic mushrooms live up to the potential we hear about?

There are significant amounts of research that are compounding to demonstrate that psilocybin is useful for end of life care, treatment resistant depression, and addiction. We have a good, growing body of evidence that that is the case. However, it is possible that people will see these results and overemphasize the benefits of psilocybin in an effort to further the legalization agenda while ignoring some of the important risks.

Psychedelics are incredibly transformative and helpful, but they are also a serious mind-altering set of substances. There can be unintended consequences to casual and uninformed use of psilocybin by the population. It is important to identify and mitigate those risks before wide-spread legalization takes place. 

How are cannabis and shrooms similar?

The trajectory of legalization for shrooms appears to be following in the footsteps of cannabis. Both substances were outlawed in the early to mid twentieth centuries, but continued to enjoy popular use among the counter-culture crowd. After the Netherlands decriminalized cannabis in the late 1970s, then Prime Minister Trudeau told students that joints were for their private pleasure, and that they shouldn’t be hassled. In 1999, two Canadian patients received permission from the Canadian government to smoke cannabis. We have recently seen similar exemptions made for end-of-life patients and psilocybin.

Since 2013, clinical trials have been allowed for the study of psychedelics. 2013 was also the same year that cannabis access rules changed, allowing for an expanded industry. All of this together means that – on a similar trajectory – psychedelics might be recreationally legal as early as the beginning of the 2030s. 

Should shrooms be illegal?

Realistically, substances are always going to have risks. Alcohol, tobacco, and cannabis all have risks associated with them, yet are freely available to the public. Within reason, adults can make their own decisions about their own bodies and brains. Psychedelics have awesome potential to help open minds and help people. Should only people at the end of their life experience them? Should someone who is a little depressed be denied treatment because they could take antidepressants with significantly worse side effects instead? 

The benefits of psychedelics, and psilocybin specifically, definitely outweigh the risks. The same cannot be said of alcohol, for example. Hopefully shrooms will be legal soon and we can all trip safely!

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