Jim Harris Was Paralyzed. Then He Ate Magic Mushrooms.

Against all odds, Jim Harris was walking. It was exhausting, and he thought he looked like Frankenstein’s monster—stepping forward with his left leg, then throwing his unresponsive right leg around to meet it. But there he was, at a music festival, getting around with the assistance of a walker, eight months out from a spinal-cord injury that left him paralyzed from the chest down.

In November 2014, a snowkiting accident in Chile changed how the mountaineering instructor turned adventure photographer moved through the world. His days, once spent exploring the alpine, were now filled with rehabilitation exercises in a gym. So when a friend and former physical therapist invited him to the High Sierra Music Festival in Quincy, California, he jumped at the chance to feel like a regular 33-year-old again.

Yet as he settled in to listen to the show, in a grassy field surrounded by tall trees and gentle peaks, he didn’t feel regular. He couldn’t drink alcohol, because it seemed to weaken his remaining nerve connections, and although he’d decorated his walker with LED lights in an attempt at festivity, it didn’t really work. “The disability made me feel like an outsider,” he says. Then someone offered him magic mushrooms, which are packed with the psychoactive compound psilocybin, and he took them, thinking he might finally be able to have fun.

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Colorado voters decriminalize psychedelic mushrooms

Colorado voters have passed a ballot initiative to decriminalize psychedelic mushrooms for people 21 and older and to create state-regulated centers where participants can experience the drug.

Colorado becomes the second state after Oregon to establish a regulated system for substances like psilocybin and psilocin, the hallucinogens found in some mushrooms.

Colorado’s initiative eventually will allow an advisory board to add other plant-based psychedelic drugs to the program.

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Colorado initiative to legalize psychedelic mushrooms inching closer to victory

Colorado voted on legalizing the use of psychedelic mushrooms, and the Nov. 8 ballot initiative to enact the measure looks on course to pass as of Wednesday afternoon.

The Associated Press has not yet called the race, but the ballot initiative to legalize private and clinical therapeutic use of the plant-based psychedelic has 66,000 more “yes” votes out of more than 1.9 million total votes counted.

If Proposition 122 passes, Colorado would be the second state, after Oregon, to decriminalize hallucinogenic substances found in mushrooms that are currently Schedule 1 drugs under the Controlled Substances Act.

The ballot initiative would decriminalize psychedelic mushrooms for those 21 and older and create state-regulated “healing centers” where participants can experience the drug under the supervision of a licensed “facilitator.” The measure would establish a regulated system for using “natural medicine,” defined under the law as psilocybin and psilocin, the hallucinogenic chemicals found in some mushrooms. 

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Psilocybin Health Benefits and Magic Mushrooms Microdosing Guide

Psilocybin is a naturally occurring psychedelic substance that can be found in a variety of different mushrooms, commonly referred to as “magic mushrooms.” Psilocybin is known to possess a spectrum of psychoactive properties, and has remained a part of medicinal and shamanistic culture around the world for thousands of years.

Cutting edge modern medical research into the various properties, health benefits, and applications of psilocybin, however, has revealed that there are many use cases for this unique biological compound outside of recreational use.

Psilocybin has recently been demonstrated in multiple clinical trials to function as an effective therapeutic aid in treating a wide variety of health disorders, including assisting with the management of depression, helping to deal with addiction, PTSD, and OCD, as well as promoting the growth of brain cells and even helping to manage the symptoms of cancer and terminal illnesses.

In this guide, we will break down the basics of psilocybin, where it comes from, and how it works, as well as proceeding to present and assess the clinical evidence that supports the therapeutic and health applications of this unique compound. Lastly, we’ll examine the potential benefits of psilocybin microdosing, a novel use of psychedelics that has been demonstrated to deliver a broad range of advantages.

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DC journos are taking shrooms for ‘performance-enhancing brain boost,’ report says

Many journalists in Washington, D.C. are taking small doses of psychedelic mushrooms to improve their performance, according to Politico.

A 2020 D.C. ballot initiative made enforcement of bans on the purchase and distribution of psychedelic mushrooms the lowest priority of law enforcement, making the substance “basically legal,” according to Politico. The substance is used recreationally in full doses as well as in smaller “microdoses,” which some believe can improve brain function.

“Microdosing mushrooms as a kind of performance-enhancing brain boost — already wildly popular among the California tech set — is now fairly common in Washington, especially in media circles,” the Politico article said.

Additionally, many journalists are “macrodosing,” or taking large quantities of mushrooms to experience a psychedelic trip, as well.

Some journalists questioned the author’s claim that microdosing was common is Washington media circles.

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Microdosing Magic Mushrooms A ‘Growing Trend’ Among Some Suburban Moms

Magic mushrooms have long been considered a serious drug — the federal government puts it in the same class as heroin — but it’s catching on in the oddest place: suburbia.

Moms in communities around San Diego are “microdosing” mushrooms, which contain the mind-altering substance psilocybin, a new report says.

“It’s so necessary for some of us to be out and forward because we need to move the needle. We need to help give permission to other mothers, to fathers and other families,” said a woman identified only as Mikaela, according to the local CBS affiliate, which published a story headlined “Micro-dosing magic mushrooms: A growing trend among San Diego moms.”

In microdosing, people take a small dose in various forms, which can be pills, gummies, and chocolate. “So a dose that would give you a classic psychedelic effect would be anywhere between a gram to five, six, seven grams and so a microdose is a fraction of a gram,” Mikaela told the station.

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These Mormons Have Found a New Faith — in Magic Mushrooms

On a Sunday afternoon in March, a group of 30 strangers huddle under a park pavilion in Salt Lake City, Utah, sipping hot cocoa and shaking hands shyly as snow clots the cottonwoods. A clean-cut gang of mostly white professionals, they are united by their interest in the Divine Assembly, a two-year old church with 3,000 members that considers psilocybin its holy sacrament. 

The church’s co-founders, husband and wife Steve and Sara Urquhart, mingle quietly with the psychedelic-curious, many of whom are either new to tripping or considering their maiden voyage. Steve sticks to the sidelines, every so often reaching to smooth a conical white beard that, combined with his blue eyes and bearlike frame, make him look like a punk Santa Claus. The long beard is the only outer marker of his new identity: Before pivoting to mushroom churches, Urquhart was one of the most powerful Republicans in the Utah State Legislature, serving from 2001 to 2016, with a stint as majority whip in the House before eventually moving over to the Senate. Former colleagues and friends recall his small-government brand of Republicanism as “rock-ribbed.” He was also, like more than 60 percent of Utah and approximately 86 percent of the Legislature in 2021, deeply, devoutly Mormon. 

“We were all the way in,” Urqhuart says of the proudly peculiar American religion with about 6.7 million adherents in the U.S. and about 16.6 million globally. Founded by Joseph Smith in 1830 during the Second Great Awakening in upstate New York, Mormonism (or the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as church authorities requested it be called in 2018, though many Latter-day Saints, or Saints for short, still use the term “Mormon”) bases its teachings on the revelations of Smith, whom they consider a prophet. According to Smith, who claimed to have translated the Book of Mormon from a pair of gold plates inscribed with “reformed Egyptian,” Latter-day Saints are God’s chosen people destined to restore the original Christian gospel — a gospel that included, they professed up until 1890, polygamy. 

“I knew all the secret handshakes,” Urquhart later divulges after one shot of tequila, and he means it quite literally, demonstrating a dizzying pattern of grips, bumps, and daps that look straight out of a Monty Python skit. 

In all likelihood, Urquhart and others believe now, Smith lifted those handshakes and many other ceremonial elements from the Freemasons, the then-popular secret society that counted Smith as a member. Urquhart also believes, 100 percent seriously, that the LDS Church (the mainstream one he and Mitt Romney are from, not the fundamentalist offshoots depicted in Under the Banner of Heaven) is a cult. Specifically, he says, alluding to the church’s polygamist history and fact that some bishops still ask teens if they are masturbating, “a sex cult with really bad sex.”

Church or cult, Urquhart crashed out of it around 2008. In the park that Sunday, he is in good company. Although the Divine Assembly is not limited to former LDS members, or “post-Mormons” as they refer to themselves, the majority of the crowd by default is, and they’re aching for a new kind of spirituality to fill the void. One couple, Yesenia and Guillermo Ramos, tell me they left the LDS Church in 2012, after it began to feel like the opposite of what they thought it stood for. “God is love,” Yesenia says with conviction, but within the church, she says she felt judged for her decision to be both a mom and a nurse, rather than a stay-at-home mom. Furthermore, Yesenia says, she was sick of the pressure to appear perfect all the time, a common complaint among LDS women that Dr. Curtis Canning, president of the Utah Psychiatric Association, has called “Mother of Zion Syndrome.”

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How an NHL Enforcer Broke His Body — and Turned to Psychedelics to Heal His Brain

Riley Cote’s journey to enlightenment began in earnest when a hulking man punched him in the face. Cote, now 40 and retired from professional hockey, remembers the moment with a dark laugh. He’d gotten into this particular bust-up one night during the 2009 season with one of the NHL’s most vicious fighters, and took the worst of it, waking the next day with his left eye blackened shut.

“What,” he asked himself, “am I doing?”

He drove to the Philadelphia Flyers training facility and got into the shower. Feeling congested, he reached for a tissue. He didn’t realize he’d suffered a cracked sinus, so what happened next was physics. When he blew his nose, the air — rather than coming out of his nostrils — inflated his face. The pressure surged instantly behind his good eye and closed it tight.

Team trainer Derek Settlemyre heard Cote scream. “His whole face had swollen up,” Settlemyre recalls. “We tell them, if they think they have a fracture, ‘Don’t blow your nose’ — and he did.”

After eight years in pro hockey (four in the NHL, four hopping around its minor-league teams), Cote felt his retirement bearing down. As an NHL “enforcer” — a player whose main role is to get into fights — he’d taken countless hits on the ice. Off it, he self-medicated with booze and drugs. He’d brutalized his body inside and out by the tender age of 28. “I damaged my brain,” Cote says. “Punching it and dehydrating it and partying my ass off.”

Today, Cote is a new man, with a mane of long brown hair, a yoga-trimmed physique, and an aura of ease in his own skin. It is a transformation he credits largely to psychedelic drugs. Since retiring, Cote has emerged as one of the sports world’s most vocal advocates for what he calls “plant medicines” — from cannabis, itself a light psychedelic, to weightier hallucinogens including DMT and magic mushrooms — to treat post-concussion symptoms (think headaches, insomnia, depression, and possibly, the degenerative brain condition known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE). In 2017, Cote co-founded Athletes for Care, a group that promotes research into the physical and emotional health issues athletes face and novel paths for treatment. He regularly speaks at conferences on the benefits of psychedelics. And, perhaps most important, he reaches out to players who are known to be struggling post-career, even arranging magic-mushroom ceremonies where they can safely experiment with the drug.

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The Emerging Magic Mushroom Monopoly

In December 2017, one of the godfathers of the contemporary psychedelic renaissance, Bob Jesse, penned a manifesto for the commercial era of hallucinogens, one that echoed as far and wide as when Timothy Leary famously evangelized, “Turn on, tune in, drop out,” in 1966. Jesse delivered a very different kind of message: “Open science for all!”

A philanthropist and independent researcher, Jesse was instrumental to reviving a new wave of medical interest into psychedelic-assisted therapy starting in the 1990s. This new form of therapy offers a revolutionary approach to treating the rising cases of depression and anxiety in the U.S. But Jesse began to see this pioneering research pillaged by Big Pharma, as soon as it showed commercial value as a breakthrough treatment for mental illness.

In the manifesto, Jesse took a stand against would-be monopolists for flagrantly misusing patent laws, advocating instead for a shared creative commons for psychedelic research, with limited intellectual-property rights. The statement attracted over 100 co-signers, including every major figure in the psychedelic research and NGO community, from philanthropic funders to grassroots advocates.

But there was a notable absence from the list: the founders of Compass Pathways, a rapidly growing psychedelic therapy company bankrolled by major investors, notably Peter Thiel, the PayPal co-founder and right-wing political financier.

“It was very suspicious when they didn’t sign on to the letter. It gave a lot of people pause about what their plans were,” said Carey Turnbull, a longtime philanthropist in the psychedelic community who has become one of Compass Pathways’ main detractors.

Compass’s founders—millionaire couple George Goldsmith and Ekaterina Malievskaia—had already raised eyebrows by quietly transitioning from a charity organization to a for-profit corporation in 2017. Compass was also conducting dubious drug trials on the Isle of Man, an infamous tax haven for the uber-wealthy with lax regulatory oversight. Suspicions abounded about the unusually restrictive contracts it pushed researchers to sign, and reports that Compass had blocked other organizations from signing a deal with one of their drug manufacturers.

The unwillingness to sign the letter was more than a snub. It was a harbinger of things to come.

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The human brain doubled in power, very suddenly, 200,000 years ago. Why?

There seems to have been a profound difference in cognitive abilities between early Homo sapiens and our immediate predecessor, Homo erectus. Sure, erectus stood upright — a big, um, step forward — but with the emergence of Homo sapiens, we see traces of art, pictography, and tool usage, and we believe humankind made its first forays into language.

In the early 1990s, psychedelic advocate and ethnobotanist Terence McKenna published his book Food of the Gods in which he surmised that homo sapiens’ cognitive leap forward was due to their discovery of magic mushrooms. The scientific community never took McKenna’s theory very seriously, considering it mostly trippy speculation — these days, his ideas have largely been relegated to the spacier corners of Reddit. Now, however, the idea has acquired a new advocate, psilocybin mycologist Paul Stamets, who’s suggesting McKenna was right all along.

In McKenna’s Stoned Ape hypothesis,” he posited that as humans began to migrate to new areas, at some point they came upon psychedelic mushrooms growing in cow droppings, as is their wont, and then ate them. After ingesting them, and more specifically the psilocybin they contained, their brains kicked into overdrive, acquiring new information-processing capabilities, and a mind-blowing expansion of our imaginations in the bargain. Many modern users of psychedelics claim the world never looks the same again after such an experience. As McKenna put it, “Homo sapiens ate our way to a higher consciousness,” and, “It was at this time that religious ritual, calendar making, and natural magic came into their own.”

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