In 2020, Chicago voted to legalize the use of recreational marijuana. The City Council is also considering another move. They are looking to decriminalize entheogenic plants and fungi. Entheogenic plants and fungi are psychedelics that occur in nature. These materials contain psychoactive compounds that induce a “trip” when ingested.
One type of entheogenic fungi is magic mushrooms. Magic mushrooms contain a hallucinogenic substance called psilocybin. And this hallucinogenic compound is a Schedule I controlled substance under federal law. So what are these Schedule I controlled substances?
The government considers these substances to be the most dangerous drugs out there. And according to the law, these drugs or substances have the following characteristics:
- Potential for abuse is high;
- There’s no currently accepted medical treatment used in the U.S.; and
- Inadequate accepted safety for use under medical supervision.
Schedule I substances are not available for clinical use. Furthermore, medical professionals may not prescribe these drugs or substances.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) designated psilocybin as a “breakthrough therapy.” Researchers and medical professionals gave patients who suffered from significant depression psilocybin. And evidence suggests that using psilocybin was better than using currently available therapies.
Richard Miller is a Professor of Pharmacology and Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. He is currently working at the Northwestern Medicines Feinberg School of Medicine. And he supports the use of natural psychedelics as a treatment option.
According to him, there are many types of research about entheogenic plants and fungi. And these researches suggest that these substances offer therapeutic uses and medical benefits.
He further shared that modern research tools and techniques are now available. With the help of technology, we can now better understand what these can do for our mental health.
Related research tried to study the connection between psilocybin and brain activity. Medical professionals gave several patients psilocybin. And these professionals monitored and observed the brain activity of the patients. And results show that there was a significant increase in brain connectivity.
Psychedelics and spirituality are, in a way, related to each other. And Miller says further research can help establish the connection between these two.
Psilocybin in Illinois
Several officials have proposed and considered the decriminalization of psilocybin. But, the scope of the resolution is only within its city limits. And among the proponents of the resolution is Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd Ward).
He introduced a resolution on magic mushrooms in October 2019. The solution encourages the state’s Department of Public Health to explore its benefits. Including the potential benefits of other psychedelic drugs and substances.
In his statement, he wanted to encourage a public discussion. He was willing to explore the benefits of these mushrooms in treating a range of illnesses. These illnesses include post-traumatic stress disorder and chronic traumatic encephalopathy. And it also has anxiety, depression, and drug addiction.
Furthermore, the resolution recommends decriminalizing criminal cases that involve organic psychedelics.
So what does this mean? It means that law enforcement will no longer pursue cases involving natural psychedelics. Instead, it will be their lowest priority.
These mushrooms existed for hundreds of years. And various indigenous people and cultures used it for many purposes. For example, they have used these mushrooms for ceremonial and healing purposes.
Several institutions recently conducted studies on psilocybin. And so far, most of the results are positive. These mushrooms have shown tremendous potential for healing ailments of the mind.
The University of California and John Hopkins conducted their research on psilocybin. All their research has shown promising benefits of the use of psilocybin. Even Imperial College London recently studied its benefits. Their results show that psilocybin could help address depression, PTSD, and addiction.
And it can be a good alternative as a treatment option.
Psilocybin mushroom spores do not contain psilocybin. So, Illinois allowed its citizens to own the spores without penalty. But, if these spores develop into fruited mushrooms, you will end up in serious legal trouble.
According to one of Illinois’ administrative codes, Schedule I substances are illegal. Thus, possession of psilocybin within the state can carry serious legal troubles.
Hallucinogen charges occur in two broad categories.
First is possession under 720 ILCS 570/402. This charge is also known as ” simple possession.” You are guilty if you have a small number of psilocybin mushrooms. Or if you have it in one bag or container and there is no scale nearby.
The second is manufacturing, delivering, or possessing with intent to deliver. This charge is under 720 ILCS 57/401. You are guilty if you own a large number of psilocybin mushrooms. Suppose you have them stored in many bags or containers. Or if you have a scale nearby and deliver it to an undercover officer or information.
Let’s take a better look at the details of the charges and the penalties below.
Possession of psilocybin mushrooms
- Possession of 0-200 grams is a Class 4 felony. It is punishable by 1 to 3 years in prison under 720 ILCS 50/402
- Possession of 200+ grams is a Class 1 felony. It is punishable by 4-15 years in prison under 720 ILCS 50/402
Manufacturing, delivering, possessing psilocybin mushrooms with the intent to deliver
The penalties for the following activities will vary depending on the amount. But, the penalties are more severe than simple possession.
- 0-50 grams is a Class 3 felony. It is punishable by 2 to 5 years in prison under 720 ILCS 570/401
- 50-200 grams is a Class 1 felony. It is punishable by 4 to 15 years in prison under 720 ILCS 570/401
- 200+ grams is a Class X felony. It is punishable by 6 to 30 years in prison under 720 ILCS 570/401.
You can be charged with simple possession of magic mushrooms or something more. But, both are still considered felonies, and you will either pay a fine, serve time in prison or do both.
What about in other states?
Denver, Colorado, decriminalized psilocybin mushrooms in May 2019. And Oakland, California, followed suit in June 2019. Santa Cruz, California, was next. Finally, voters agreed to decriminalize all entheogenic plants and fungi in January 2020.
In November 2020, voters passed Measure 109 and Measure 110. And Oregon became the first state in the country to legalize psilocybin. Of course, many cities have already decriminalized the substance. But Oregon was the first to permit the supervised use of psilocybin statewide.
Furthermore, the new law will allow anyone age 21 or older to access magic mushrooms. But they can only use it for personal development.
This new law doesn’t mean that magic mushrooms will have the same legal status as marijuana. So only government-licensed facilities can use these psychedelic mushrooms. Also, these mushrooms need to be stored and administered in controlled facilities.
There is a growing number of people who are now looking to use magic mushrooms. These mushrooms are now considered as a treatment option for mental health disorders. These mental disorders include depression, anxiety, PTSD, and addiction.
Chicago could become the largest city to decriminalize natural psychedelics. These include magic mushrooms that contain psilocybin. And peyote that contains mescaline and many more.
But, even with more studies on the use of entheogenic plants and fungi. And more lawmakers who propose newer drug resolutions to decriminalize such substances finally. The state remains tight with its drug laws and regulations. Psilocybin mushrooms are still illegal under state law.