Denver dabbles in magic mushrooms, but using them to treat mental health disorders stays underground

File-In this August 3, 2007 file photo, psilocybin mushrooms can be seen in the growing room of a Procare farm in Hazerswoude, central Netherlands. The Oregon Attorney General has approved the wording of a voting bill to legalize psychedelic mushrooms.  (AP Photo / Peter Dejong, file)

Currently, there is a move to decriminalize psychedelic mushrooms in more than 100 cities. (Peter Dejon / AP)

Approximately two years after Denver made history as the first city in the country to decriminalize hallucinogenic mushrooms for personal use, the enemy’s fear of rampant abuse and public drunken nightmares did not come true.

“There was no apparent impact on law enforcement,” said Joseph Montoya, chief of the Denver Police Department, who oversees major criminal investigations.

Mushroom proponents see the lack of repulsion as a major selling point for ultimately legalizing the active ingredient psilocybin as a mainstream treatment for a variety of mental illnesses.

The growing body of medical research is psilocybin and others Psychedelic drugs may help treat anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorders, and addiction. That promise eventually spawned dozens of companies wanting to be cashed.

However, the legal environment remains volatile. The federal government has classified psilocybin as a Schedule I substance. It is defined as a drug that “has no currently accepted medical use and is likely to be abused.”

Denver Initiated Ordinance 301— Passed 50.6% of voters in May 2019 — We did not legalize drugs, but simply made them a top priority for law enforcement.

Anyone over the age of 21 can grow or own mushrooms for personal use with little risk of arrest. However, sharing or selling them remains a felony.

Therapists are at risk of losing their license when using it for treatment.

The patient “calls us with this hope and optimism and wants to try psychedelics,” said Robert Colbert, a psychotherapist who advocates the therapeutic use of psychedelics. Stated. “The hardest part of my job is to say,’Hey, this is still illegal and we can’t do it.'” “”

Some therapists work underground.

“It’s insanely busy,” said Denver therapist Debbie, who used psilocybin in her practice and spoke on the condition that her surname was withheld. “I can’t imagine how I’ve worked without it.”

She recently led the couple on a mushroom-fueled journey and accepted the death of their son. She used it with a woman who was traumatized by sexual assault. The process was painful — the woman shouted for hours — but Debbie said the result “brought tears in my eyes.”

She gives the clients mushrooms and charges for the hours, so technically they don’t sell them. But she still buys and shares them — both are illegal.

“It’s all word-of-mouth,” she said. “It’s very difficult to work in secret.”

A few months after the ordinance was passed, an agent from the US Drug Enforcement Administration arrested a man in Denver for selling psychedelic mushrooms. He could face up to 20 years in prison, but in February a federal judge released him with a $ 5,500 fine and three years of probation.

It has caused widespread horror among mushroom users, advocates, and those who will become psilocybin entrepreneurs here.

Many are asking Sean McAllister, Denver’s decriminalization attorney, for advice on starting a mushroom-centric business. He advises them to wait until the law changes.

Companies have emerged next to psychedelic mushrooms, selling cultivation kits and teaching mushroom cultivation classes, but few companies actually come into contact with psychedelics.

Monster Mushroom Co., Ltd. In Denver, it opened shortly after decriminalization. The disclaimer on its website states that the growth kit does not contain psilocybin spores and the company does not discuss cultivation “under any circumstances”.

Owner David Muerken said the business was booming, but emphasized that he wasn’t growing or selling mushrooms.

“We only offer sterile cultivation kits for people to grow the kind of mushrooms they like,” he said. “That said, more and more people are buying kits since May 2019. Imagine some people in Denver trying to grow psychedelic mushrooms.”

Then there are “trip sitters” like 27-year-old Tobey Tobey — as he identified himself — with people using psychedelic mushrooms to make sure they don’t hurt themselves. I’m in.

“People are aware that the federal government is watching. I don’t provide the substance. They have to get it themselves.

“It’s a lot of work right now. You can’t buy mushrooms. You have to grow them from spores. Distribution of any kind is a felony.”

Spores do not contain psilocybin until they become mushrooms, so it is legal to buy them in most states. They are illegal in Georgia, Idaho, and — except for approved studies — in California.

As the law changes nationwide, more and more companies are ready to enter the psilocybin business.

Ei.Ventures, The Hawaii-based company has created a product called Psilly by combining eight mushrooms, including psilocybin, and twelve plants.

“You will take it in a supervised treatment session. It will last for an hour and will not be a hallucinogen,” said David Nixad, who heads the company. “There is a feeling of euphoria, fearlessness, and endless sensations.”

After Denver decriminalized psilocybin So did Auckland, Santa Cruz, Washington, DC, Ann Arbor, Michigan, Somerville, Massachusetts, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Currently, there is a move to decriminalize psychedelic mushrooms in more than 100 cities.

State Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) has introduced a law to decriminalize psilocybin with Psychedelic LSD, Ketamine, MDMA, Mescaline and Ibogaine. In November, Oregon legalized psilocybin for use in supervised treatment.

Increasing support is following a path similar to cannabis, increasingly downplaying critics who claim that the real goal is to commercialize psilocybin.

“I think a lot of people are sympathetic to people suffering from mental illness,” said Paul Larkin, a researcher at the Conservative Heritage Foundation in Washington and an opponent of decriminalization. To make money. “

Unlike the marijuana movement, which utilizes the known therapeutic benefits of the drug as a stepping stone to enable its use for recreational purposes, mushroom proponents say that medicinal use is the main goal.

“Psychedelics is very therapeutic, given the right mindset,” he co-founded the Professional Psychedelics Association for Outreach, Reform and Education, helping to lead a decriminalization campaign in Denver. Kevin Matthews says. “But there is a risk. I don’t see a scenario of going into a pharmacy and buying mushrooms.”

Psilocybin was first isolated in 1958 by the Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann, who also synthesized LSD. During a “travel”, perceptions of reality often change for hours.

Researchers now believe that taking Psychedelics during talk therapy helps patients see their lives and the lives of others through a more compassionate lens.

Matthew Johnson, a professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University and associate director of the Psychedelic & Consciousness Research Center, said: “But we need to keep track of the data.”

Johnson found it Psilocybin significantly reduced depression and anxiety In patients with life-threatening cancer. Research participants reported improved quality of life, new optimism, and reduced fear of dying.

He also found evidence that psilocybin helped people quit smoking. In one study, 80% of participants did not smoke for 6 months after the study.

But perhaps most importantly, we discovered that psilocybin can change personality, that is, the deep-seated behavior that many believe to be stable.

“Before our work, there was no experimental operation that could be performed in the lab on a particular day that was shown to change the verified personality structure,” Johnson said. “Psilocybin has been shown to bring about that change. People can get stuck and overcome patterns of self-defeat and addiction.”

Still, he warned that psilocybin is much more powerful and risky than drugs like marijuana. It can cause a psychotic reaction in people with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Second, there is a “bad trip” that can happen to anyone. It can cause anxiety, fear, panic and confusion.

“The challenge is that after moving from a stance of not arresting people to a stance of authorizing the use of psilocybin for treatment, you are responsible for doing it right,” Johnson said. “That’s the practice of medicine. You’re using medicine. You’re responsible. Do they have all the protective measures we and our colleagues use?”

On the law, the Denver Silo Urinal Mushroom Policy Review Board, a group of supporters, officials and law enforcement agencies, recently met to reach a consensus that changes are needed.

The group has come up with preliminary recommendations for the city council to consider in the coming weeks. One was to decriminalize sharing magic mushrooms with others.

“As long as the money isn’t exchanged, I’m fine personally,” said the Denver County District. Atty. Beth McCann, a member of the group, was against the 2019 Ordinance. “I don’t think we’re prosecuting people who give something to friends or relatives. I think selling it is clearly our focus.”

Police chief Montoya also supported the recommendation.

The panel also recommended that some group settings make mushrooms non-criminal and provide special training to first responders on how to deal with someone under the influence of psilocybin.

“This is a long game,” said Shannon Hughes, an associate professor of social work at Colorado State University and a member of the Nowak Society, a Colorado network advocating increased use of psychedelics and other psychedelics.

“Decriminalization needs to be a full-fledged model. It’s a very good first step,” she said.

Kelly is a correspondent.

This story was originally Los Angeles Times..