Psychedelics have a long history of rejection by the federal government. Efforts to destigmatize the reputation of these substances is happening through research into their effects.
Research conducted at Johns Hopkins University suggests that mushrooms can be declassified by the Drug Enforcement Administration from a schedule I drug to a schedule IV. This would allow private companies test these drugs without the overbearing surveillance by the federal government.
It’s a step in a positive direction for psychedelic users nationwide.
These schedules are tiered into five categories based on medical prevalence. Schedule I drugs are classified as having no acceptable medical uses and are the most “dangerous” to public use, while schedule V drugs are typically those found in over-the-counter medications.
Since Nixon’s administration began the War on Drugs, many drugs have been labeled as dangerous. Research has shown how absurd these claims are, especially in regards to marijuana, which is now legal for either recreational or medical uses in 33 of the 50 states.
The stigma bound to these drugs remains a factor in keeping them illegal. People who oppose these drugs usually have never had any experience with them.
According to a Yahoo News and Marist Poll, 70 percent of people who have never used marijuana oppose legalization, while 70 percent of those who have used the drug support legalization.
The same stigma is held of mushrooms, for which there is next to no research into its medical uses. Its psychedelic properties continue to hinder people’s perception of the potential for this substance. Over 30 million people in the United States are lifelong mushrooms users, however, and more people are taking a mushroom trip every day.
A popular means by which to consume mushrooms is called microdosing, which is when a consumer takes one-tenth of the dose needed for a “trip” and bypasses the hallucinations. While studies are still in their adolescent phase, researchers are looking to prove the positive effects of microdosing. Researchers believe it can reduce depression and anxiety and treat post-traumatic stress disorder.
The FDA gave mushrooms a “breakthrough therapy” designation to allow for the treatment of depression at the end of 2018. This designation is only given when early studies indicate that the substance has the potential to be significantly better than current treatment options.
In an interview with Healthline, Tracy Cheung, communications director for COMPASS Pathways— the company leading research on developing the first psilocybin-based therapy — said psilocybin therapy can have immediate and sustainable effects in reducing depression after only one treatment.
“The effect has been described as psilocybin shaking the brain up like a snow globe, or rebooting the brain, providing new connections and deactivating connections that might have caused depression,” Cheung said.
Mushrooms not only have the potential to help combat depression, but they are also helping patients with PTSD. A study conducted by The Lancet Psychiatry stated that: “Active doses (75 mg and 125 mg) of MDMA with adjunctive psychotherapy in a controlled setting were effective and well tolerated in reducing PTSD symptoms in veterans and first responders.”
Erasing the stigma behind drug use can help society in the long term. The government could help by funding more private entities such as COMPASS Pathways to research the effects of “dangerous” drugs. This will allow for a greater understanding and utilization of these substances to help promote a healthier world.
Opinion columnist Anthony Cianciulli is a broadcast journalism senior and can be reached at [email protected]