Literature

The Stigma: Why Are Shrooms Illegal?

When you mention magic mushrooms to people, you’ll most likely get a mix of reactions. To those who aren’t familiar, they’ll probably associate it with a dangerous drug. So, they’ll see it as a substance that people should avoid because it’s outright wrong.

But if you talk about shrooms, you’ll get an entirely different reaction. This is with someone more familiar with magic mushrooms. People who know a little more about the mushrooms will talk about how it’s not as bad as it’s made out to be. Some mig+ht say it’s a mind-expanding substance. Others would even go on to say that it’s medicine.

The topic of magic mushrooms can be a somewhat polarizing one. One side says no good can come from it, and another says the complete opposite. The people who believe that shrooms are good could even be considered “hippies.” Unfortunately, even the term “hippie” is already viewed in such a negative light.

When you talk about magic mushrooms, a certain stigma always comes along with the topic. Magic mushrooms have always been associated with something evil and dangerous. This happened for the longest time. At present, it’s seen as something illegal, which may explain the stigma.

If you take some time to think about it, you might find yourself wondering a few things too. Why is there a stigma associated with shrooms? Does it even deserve the stigma it’s associated with? Why are magic mushrooms illegal in the first place? These are some questions you might have. Unfortunately, the answer to that isn’t as simple as you’d expect.

The whole reason that made shrooms illegal became more than a public health concern. This even if it is well-intentioned. The entire story ended up getting peppered with political motives. Some might not even make sense at all. As you’re about to learn, this whole stigma against shrooms may not even be necessary in the first place.

What is Psilocybin Mushroom?

It is essential to understand what shrooms are in the first place. This is before we can answer the question, “why are shrooms illegal?”

Psilocybin mushrooms are named after their main ingredient, psilocybin. This substance is found in many different psychedelic mushrooms. Psilocybin handles the psychoactive properties of these mushrooms.

Psilocybin is commonly known to cause the psychedelic effects of shrooms. On the other hand, psilocybin’s metabolite causes its effects. When consumed, psilocybin becomes psilocin, and it’s psilocin that affects the brain.

magic mushrooms in a container

Psilocybin mushrooms are a broad classification of psychedelic mushrooms. Shrooms have over a hundred species under them. These mushrooms can be found in the wild or can even be grown at home, as this mushroom grows relatively quickly. Psilocybe cubensis is an example of many Psilocybin shrooms. This is one of the most common and popular varieties in the shroom world.

Psychedelic mushrooms are usually prepared for consumption after they’ve been harvested. This is both for wild and homegrown ones. Consuming shrooms depends on the preference of people. Some consume it fresh. Others opt to have it dried first before they eat it. There are other consumption methods or techniques. This includes making them into teas while others crush them into a powdered form. This powdered form can be made as pills and tablets or added to food.

These mushrooms have been around for over a thousand years. Ancient peoples had entire cultures revolving around shrooms’ use. Today, people are still consuming them for spiritual and recreational purposes. This is even if they are illegal in several places. They’ve also been studied as an alternative form of medical treatment.

 

Why is Psilocybin Illegal?

Shrooms are still considered illegal in several places worldwide. This is despite the fact that magic mushrooms are still around today.

The story of how magic mushrooms become illegal starts in 1971. Psychedelic substances were deemed unlawful during the Convention on Psychotropic Substances. The United Nations hosted this, and they included psilocybin in the list. The reason was that people were prone to abuse them. Mostly this is due to their psychedelic properties. As a result, the UN drafted a treaty that over 180 countries supported.

Since the UN didn’t have the resources, this was left to the discretion of every supporting country.

drug law book with pair of eyeglasses on top

Before the worldwide ban in 1971, the US already outlawed these substances in 1968. This was known as the Staggers-Dodd bill—this amendment to the Food, Drug, and Narcotics act. The Staggers-Dodd bill classified several substances as Schedule 1. In the ban, possession of substances was effectively imposed. This includes psilocybin and psilocin.

At the time, substances such as LSD and psilocybin were prominently used, a lot of them carelessly. The administration at the time saw this as a problem. Substance abuse would be a possibility if people weren’t careful. As a response, this bill was passed to help combat this possibility.

Substances such as psychedelics eventually became classified as Schedule 1 substances. This meant that these substances had a high potential for abuse. It also stated that these substances did not have any approved medical benefit.

However, an ongoing body of research at the time may have shown otherwise. Scientists have been looking to understand the substance better. For example, LSD was seen to be beneficial in treating alcohol addiction. Psilocybin also had its fair share of studies. The research wanted to explore why ancient people used these substances as these substances were used for spiritual and medicinal purposes.

Indeed there were some benefits with psilocybin use. This was backed by scientists’ and researchers’ bodies of knowledge. These psychedelic mushrooms showed potential in treating mental conditions. These conditions include alcoholism, depression, and schizophrenia.

Unfortunately, this was put to stop. This was due to the Staggers-Dodd bill and the 1971 UN treaty. This eventually led to the infamously known “war on drugs.” This then became controversial for several reasons. To this day, people still debate the motivation behind banning shrooms. Whether this was for public health or political reasons. But, whatever the reason, it left a lasting effect.

Among the many consequences the war on drugs had, it helped build a stigma. The stigma was that certain substances had no business being used by people. An example is that psychedelic shrooms had no benefit. It was also said that people like “hippies just use it.” As time passed by, the stigma persisted and grew. This is despite its use for spiritual reasons. Even if backed with research pointing out its benefits.

Current Issues Regarding Psilocybin Mushrooms

Several things help add to the persisting stigma that accompanies magic mushrooms. First, people believe that shrooms are bad. People think that these can be abused and be addicting. This is similar to other illicit substances. Its classification as a Schedule 1 substance more or less supports this claim.

Naturally, people make reservations about magic mushrooms. However, is there truth to these claims? Or is it just a result of a lack of understanding of these substances? Studies will point out that there’s more you need to know about it first.

Psilocybin Mushroom Addiction

One issue people have with psilocybin would be that it can be an addictive substance. But as for the degree of its addiction, research and anecdotal evidence may point out that it is rare.

Psilocybin can cause an intense experience, also known as a trip when consumed. Mushroom trips can be very stressful as they are mentally and physically strenuous. These trips can leave people very exhausted. It can also cause people to space them out or limit how frequently they go on trips.

Aside from trip intensity, it’s highly unlikely that psilocybin is addictive. This is because of how one can quickly establish tolerance to it. As people build a tolerance to shrooms, they may require higher dosages to feel its effects. However, after a certain period, psilocybin loses its effects on the brain. So in a sense, you feel it less and less the more you consecutively take it.

If it does become addictive to a person, this may be due to an underlying psychological problem. Substance dependence and abuse disorders are some examples.

Psilocybin Mushroom Withdrawal

nauseous man

With addiction, there is also a concern of having withdrawal after long-term use. Withdrawal may also be attributed to underlying psychological problems.

Magic mushrooms can have many side effects on people when consumed. These can be pupil dilation, increased heart rate and blood pressure, and nausea. But, these are all observed side-effects during the consumption of the substance.

Side effects can also be associated with a psychological disorder. Substance abuse and dependence disorders can be the main symptoms of withdrawal.

Dependence on psilocybin may leave some having a hard time living with reality. As a result, this will lead them to continue to use psilocybin to help with that. However, this could still be attributed to dependence rather than withdrawal.

Another symptom associated with withdrawal is Hallucinogenic Persistent Perception Disorder. As the name suggests, this is due to perceptual changes. These are also known as flashbacks. This then persists even after the drug is no longer present in the body. But, this may be more of a rare side effect than withdrawal.

Whatever the case may be, withdrawal is also possible. But this is more for those predisposed to be psychologically dependent.

Psilocybin Mushroom Treatment

Should dependence, addiction, and withdrawal be an issue, treatment is warranted. Fortunately, there are ways to help treat these problems.

Abstinence is one of the ways to help treat dependency on these mushrooms. As the substance is not as addictive as other substances, it becomes easier to stop consuming it. This is advisable if it is still a problem. Rehabilitation programs and centers can always aid with these problems.

Fortunately, addiction to these mushrooms is rare. This, in turn, can help make treating any dependence on this substance more attainable.

Laws on Psychedelic Mushrooms

Substances such as psychedelic mushrooms have been deemed illegal. This is due to the war on drugs. Unfortunately, the law has not changed to this day. It is still considered an unlawful substance in the majority of the United States. As such, possession of the substance is still generally regarded as illegal.

But, what are the exact implications of psilocybin being illegal?

Actual and Constructive Possession of a Substance

hand holding a piece of magic mushroom

Possession is one of the most common offenses. This is about psilocybin. But, there are two kinds of possession offenses that you can commit. First, there is actual possession of drugs. Then there is constructive possession of drugs.

Actual possession of drugs means that law enforcement found drugs on your person. This includes drugs on your hand and pockets. Actual possession will also be considered, even if it’s in a container in your bag.

There is also constructive possession of drugs. This means that law enforcement knows that there are drugs in your area. It also says that law enforcement knows that you have knowledge of drugs in your vicinity. Constructive possession can also happen in this particular scenario. An example would be if police inspect your car and find drugs in the trunk or glove box. You are at someone’s house, and the police carried out a search warrant. Now, that place was found with illicit substances. You will then be charged with constructive possession.

Penalties for Possessing Magic Mushrooms

You will have to face the corresponding penalty if possessing illegal substances. However, the kind of penalty that you will face will depend entirely on the state’s laws that you’re in.

Penalties for offenses related to possession of psilocybin mushrooms may differ. It can range from a minor misdemeanor charge to a more severe felony charge. This also depends on what state you were caught in. Some may get slapped with a fine. Others could end up serving some jail time.

hands behind his back on handcuffs

Unfortunately, things continue to get more complicated from this point. The penalty you will receive will not only stop at possession charges. Your possession charge can further be classified into different categories. This will depend on the amount you have in your possession.

You can be charged for trafficking shrooms if caught in large quantities. Also, you can be charged for distributing even if found in your possession. This would then result in a penalty that’s more severe than initially thought.

The lack of specific laws on possession and complexities are confusing. This results in people getting disproportionately arrested. Fortunately, there are legal teams who specialize in these types of cases.

Looking Forward

Developments have been taking place over the past few years. This is even though shrooms are being outlawed in most of the US.

Science has still found a way to study magic mushrooms. This is despite the war on drugs initially stopping the research. As a result, the body of knowledge on psilocybin has grown.

Now, there is a better understanding of psilocybin and what it does to the brain. What’s more, research has shown that there are indeed benefits to psilocybin use. For example, it’s currently being considered as an alternative treatment for depression. The NYU Psilocybin Cancer Anxiety Study also showed its benefits. In the research, it was used in palliative care for terminal cancer patients.

Aside from these, some cities and states around the US have also decriminalized it. Oakland and Denver are two examples of places that have decriminalized them. But, Oregon has taken the extra step and legalized psilocybin for medical use.

It is hard to deny that there’s progress happening with magic mushrooms. This is with research; decriminalization and legalization are still ongoing. Right now, there’s more solid evidence. This is that psilocybin mushrooms aren’t that bad as initially thought. This evidence also shows that they do have benefits. Decriminalization is proof of the legislative body’s acceptance of shrooms.

With the way things are going, it’s only a matter of time before more and more people see all this progress. Hopefully, the stigma associated with these mushrooms will go away as well. Because with all the hard evidence available now, it’s hard to deny that shrooms do more good than harm.

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