Magic mushrooms go mainstream in Colorado

Fungi are ready for their close-up.

Driving the news: After Coloradans voted to legalize psilocybin in 2022, “magic mushrooms” are now becoming more mainstream, with a first-of-its-kind study and a national psychedelic conference on the horizon.

State of play: The University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora this month announced it would launch the first modern-era psilocybin clinical trial for depression this fall.

Details: The hospital is working with the Food and Drug Administration on the study, though the federal government classifies psilocybin mushrooms as a Schedule 1 narcotic.

  • It’s grouped with the most serious category of illicit drugs, including heroin and cocaine.

The intrigue: Gov. Jared Polis last week signed a bill implementing Proposition 122, which allows people 21 and older to grow and share magic mushrooms.

  • The bill also creates a regulated therapy system for medicinal use — establishing “healing centers” for people to use psilocybin under supervision — and removes criminal penalties for personal possession.

Keep reading

Taxpayers May Soon Be Filling the Funding Gaps in Oregon’s Psilocybin System

So far, just three psilocybin service centers—offices where people can go on legal mushroom trips—have been licensed by the state of Oregon.

That’s bad news for law-abiding people itching to avail themselves of the much-advertised benefits of psilocybin: relief from depression, alcoholism, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and end-of-life dread.

It’s also bad news for taxpayers, who may soon find themselves underwriting a shroom system that was supposed to pay for itself.

Proponents of Measure 109, the initiative that created Oregon’s legal psilocybin program, designed it to be funded by fees, not taxpayer dollars, so it would be palatable to more voters. Service centers, mushroom growers, and psilocybin testing labs are all required to pay $10,000 a year for their licenses. Facilitators, the people who sit with tripping subjects and guide them into the psychosphere, pay $2,000 a year.

The problem is that very few people are getting licenses of any kind to cover the cost of running the Oregon Health Authority’s Psilocybin Services unit, in large part because of the high fees. Very few licensees means very little fee revenue, which means the state has to find cash someplace else to keep the program running.

That other place could be the state’s general fund. OHA has asked for $6.6 million to fill the program’s budget gap for the fiscal biennium starting July 1, according to a 13-page “policy option package,” or POP, that’s now sitting in the Legislature (Salem budgets two years at a time).

“Without the additional funding, the sustainability of the work would be jeopardized,” OHA says in the POP document. “There would be insufficient staff to continue to implement the regulatory program, review license applications and conduct licensure inspections. Consequently, psilocybin businesses seeking licensure could experience financial hardship.”

Keep reading

Salem Leaders Vote Unanimously To Ease Enforcement On Psilocybin

 It’s now a lot easier to use magic mushrooms in the witch city.

The Salem City Council voted unanimously last week to effectively decriminalize Psilocybin mushrooms in the city, which means that police will now deprioritize enforcing laws against the fungi and will not actively look for people that grow, possess, or consume them. City Councilor Jeff Cohen told WBZ’s Shari Small scaling back enforcement on the mushrooms will help certain residents.

“This is primarily about helping people who might have issues like depression or other challenges,” he said. “However, it’s enabling people who grow their own to be able to use it.”

Both Colorado and Oregon have decriminalized psilocybin and allow it to be used for medical reasons. Cities in several states have decriminalized the drugs, including Cambridge and Somerville. While this measure does not fully decriminalize the use of magic mushrooms, it allows people to use them without the fear of being prosecuted for it.

“They’ve done studies on psilocybin for many years, they have a lot of data about how it really does help people,” Councilor Cohen said. “We had scientists and also therapists who talked about their perceived need to have this in their toolbox to help some of the patients they have.”

Keep reading

Arizona funds research into ‘magic mushrooms’ to treat PTSD and depression

Arizona is headed toward funding the first controlled clinical trials for whole mushroom psilocybin, or “magic mushrooms,” to treat an array of health issues, including post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression. 

The state’s nearly $18 billion 2024 budget contains a provision providing $5 million for whole mushroom psilocybin trials. The money is the culmination of the efforts of Dr. Sue Sisely, an internal medicine physician and principal investigator at Scottsdale Research Institute, which conducts nonprofit drug development research on psychedelics, along with a bipartisan group of state legislators. 

“We’re thrilled that the research on natural mushrooms will finally be able to move forward, so this is a big achievement that finally we’re going to get objective data,” Sisely told the Arizona Mirror. “This will give us reliable insight into how these mushrooms might help or harm people. We need to learn more about how this works.”

Keep reading

Small amounts of ‘psychedelic’ mushrooms would be decriminalized in CT, under bill

At a time when more research is showing that the controlled ingestion of psilocybin mushrooms can help patients deal positively with depression, trauma and end-of-life issues, the state House of Representatives on Wednesday approved legislation that would decriminalize the possession of small amounts of the hallucinogenic fungi.

The bill, which opponents warned could lead to the eventual full legalization of the drug, passed 86-64 and next heads to the Senate. Thirteen Democrats voted against the bill and two Republicans voted for it.

If approved in the Senate and signed into law by the governor, the penalty for a first-time possession of a half ounce or less would be $150. State Rep. Steve Stafstrom, D-Bridgeport, co-chairman of the legislative Judiciary Committee, said that a number of patients with behavioral health issues, including substance abuse, can benefit from the use of the drug, also called “magic mushrooms” or psychedelic mushrooms. But the research, much being done at Yale University, is moving slowly because of the illegality of the drug.

Keep reading

Ohio State receives first-ever DEA license to grow psychedelic mushrooms for research

Ohio State University is about to grow psychedelic mushrooms.

For scientific research, people.

Ohio State, alongside the mental health and wellness research and development company Inner State Inc., was awarded the first-ever license by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency to grow whole psilocybin mushrooms. The mushrooms will be used in the study of mental health treatment capabilities with naturally grown psychedelic mushrooms.

“This license is a major milestone not only for Inner State and Ohio State, but for the entire field of psychedelic research,” Inner State CEO Ashley Walsh said Wednesday in a news release.

The license allows Ohio State and Inner State to cultivate psilocybin mushrooms for research purposes only. All research will be conducted in a federally sanctioned and secured grow house in accordance with strict DEA regulations and guidelines.

“By combining cutting-edge techniques in genomics and metabolomics, we have the opportunity to obtain a high-resolution picture of the chemical diversity of mushrooms that have remained difficult to study for several decades,” according to Ohio State researchers Dr. Jason Slot and Dr. Kou-San Ju.

Keep reading

Magic mushroom guides in Oregon face uncertain trip ahead

In the last few weeks, dozens of students have graduated from schools in Oregon where they were trained to guide people through magic mushroom trips that can last as long as six hours. At one school, an alpaca farmer, a social worker, an ER nurse and a nutritionist were all in the same class, attempting to learn the tricks of a new trade. 

But it will be a few months until any of them can legally practice what they’ve learned in their state — and once they can, there are open questions about how the psychedelics industry will shape up there.  

“Our big mantra to students is, don’t quit your day job,” said Nathan Howard, the director of one facilitator school called InnerTrek, adding, “Yet.” 

The Oregon state government and 22 training schools are writing the rule book on the best strategy for administering a drug that has shown promise in clinical trials in combatting depressionaddiction or dependencies, and anxiety around terminal illnesses.  

 he first licensed magic mushroom guides could be a model for a new sort of health care professional — but are they ready for the realities of the work and how much of a risk are the new guides taking on?  

In November 2020, Oregon voters became the first in the country to approve therapeutic use of psilocybin, which is the key ingredient in magic mushrooms. The drug became legal Jan. 1, 2023, though actual sale of the psychedelic can’t begin until the state gives its stamp of approval to laboratories which will produce the psilocybin products and service centers where they’ll be consumed. Unlike cannabis, magic mushrooms won’t be sold at dispensaries and can only be used under supervision at licensed locations. 

By state law, the supervisors or psilocybin facilitators have to be over 21, have a minimum of a high school education, and they must graduate from a training school before they take a licensing exam. Beyond that, the state entrusts school administrators to vet people through the application process and to iron out the specifics of what a day on the job might entail.  

Keep reading

Mushrooms Could Offer Improvements to Color Blindness, Study Suggests

The study on color blindness, which comes via researchers with the Department of Psychiatry and Psychology, Center for Behavioral Health, Neurological Institute at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, was published in Drug Science, Policy and Law.

According to Medical Xpress, the researchers behind the study “highlight some implications surrounding a single reported vision improvement self-study by a colleague and cite other previous reports, illustrating a need to understand better how these psychedelics could be used in therapeutic settings.”

Medical Xpress has more on the findings:

“In the current case, a subject with red-green CVD (mild deuteranomalia) self-administered the Ishihara Test to quantify the degree and duration of color vision improvement after using 5 g of dried psilocybin magic mushrooms. Self-reported Ishihara Test data from the subject revealed partial improvement in CVD, peaking at 8 days and persisting for at least 16 days post-psilocybin administration…Before mushroom ingestion, the subject self-administered the Ishihara Test, a series of graphics composed of a mosaic of dots varying in color, hue and size. The cards of the test are designed to hide test images from someone with color blindness that would be clearly visible to someone with color vision. For example, a graphic of red and green dots might have the number ‘3’ composed of only red dots, clearly apparent to most but invisible to the color-blind individual. During this baseline test, the subject reported scoring 14 on plates 1–21, indicating mild red-green blindness, with an additional set of four cards indicating deuteranomalia, a version of CVD that makes greens look more [like] reds. While the subject reported intensification of colors under the acute effects of psilocybin, the score showed only slight improvement to 15 at 12 hours post-administration. By 24 hours post-mushroom administration, the score reached 18, one above the cut-off of 17 required by the Ishihara Test for the classification of normal color vision. The score peaked at 19 on day eight and was still tuned into the range of normal vision four months later.” 

Findings like that have encouraged medical researchers, and forced lawmakers to reconsider longstanding prohibitions on magic mushrooms. 

Keep reading

Oregon Licenses First Psilocybin Lab, But Treatment Access Remains Stalled

On April 21, Portland-based Rose City Laboratories, LLC (RCL) announced that it had been licensed by the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) to test psilocybin products for the state’s therapeutic centers. It’s the first lab to receive the required OHA license, but psilocybin treatment still can’t move forward.

In January, OHA opened its licensing applications for labs vying to test state-regulated psilocybin products, along with the manufacturers that will produce those products, the service centers where they’ll be consumed and the “trip facilitators” who will supervise the treatment sessions.

At publication time, OHA had not yet licensed any service centers. Meanwhile, only three manufacturers and four facilitators have so far received licenses. OHA is still expecting the first service centers to open their doors in 2023, but it’s not yet clear how widespread access will be at that time.

RCL will test psilocybin products for the two benchmarks of a regulated drug supply: potency and purity.

RCL began operating in 2012 and has been primarily known for testing cannabis. It began working toward psilocybin testing services in 2020, in anticipation of Measure 109—which legalized therapeutic psilocybin use at licensed service centers—being approved later that year. In January 2023, received Oregon’s first psilocybin lab accreditation, making it legally eligible for the OHA license it has now received.

Licensed manufacturers can formulate psilocybin as extracts, edibles or just the mushrooms themselves. Finished products are sent to RCL, which tests them for the two benchmarks of a regulated drug supply: potency and purity.

Keep reading

Helping veterans, battling opioid addiction driving magic mushroom legislation progress

Forty lawmakers, 36 Democrats and 4 Republicans, have co-sponsored a bill aiming to allow for the medical use of psilocybin and a psilocybin therapy grant program, which is currently sitting at the committee level of the Assembly, with its Senate version also in committee. The Assembly bill, A03581, was introduced by Democrat Pat Burke in February. There has been other legislation introduced regarding the hallucinogen as well, with Linda Rosenthal’s version legalizing the adult possession and use of hallucinogens like it.

Research has shown that psilocybin, an organic psychedelic compound, can benefit people with cluster headaches, depression, anxiety, irritable bowel syndrome, ADHD and obsessive compulsive disorder, but it’s getting the most universal traction because of its impact on those suffering from PTSD.

“Psilocybin doesn’t have the huge appeal that marijuana had,” Democrat Assemblyman Phil Steck, who is the Assembly’s Chairman of the Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Committee, says. “But, there are definitely people who make a strong case for the proposition that it helps with PTSD. Certainly we want to do everything that we can to help people that are coming back from war, and if psilocybin has proven to do that, then it should be legal for that purpose.”

Johns Hopkins University has conducted several studies on psilocybin, saying it has substantial antidepressant effects, but needs to be administered under carefully controlled conditions through trained clinicians and therapists.

Keep reading