The Importance of Regulating Psychedelics

By |2020-02-12T01:53:49+00:00February 12th, 2020|hallucinogenic medicine, psilocybin, psychedelics|1 Comment

I was in Amsterdam recently. They have smartshops there where they – legally and over the counter – sell psychoactive substances, including truffles with psilocybin (magic mushrooms). The truffles are available in doses ranging from 10-30g and come with vague descriptions of the psychedelic properties of the truffle and dosing guidelines in a one-size-fits-all manner.

I visited one of these smartshops with professional colleagues also involved in psychedelic medicine. We walked in, went to the counter, and talked directly to the counter person who sold us the truffles.

I ate the recommended amount and with the proper set and setting had a profound psychedelic experience, complete with visual hallucinations. As an experienced psychonaut equipped for a profound experience, everything went well; however, my journey included profound concern for the psychedelic civilian. I was imagining straight, psychedelic-naive people ending up in the hospital, let alone what could happen to someone with a risk of psychosis.

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I’m all for people making their own mistakes and having the ability to access natural medicine. My concerns are how psychedelics are marketed and when people can’t handle the medication they purchased and consumed.

When psilocybin is marketed alongside alcohol, tobacco, fast food, and hard drugs, we are making it difficult to regard this plant as sacred medicine. There is a responsibility to appropriately market psychedelics as therapeutic medicine. If we cut straight to selling psychedelics as intoxicants, we risk losing the therapeutic potentials of this magical and powerful medicine.

Where I draw the line is when the public has to pick up after people. Unregulated recreational use of plant medicines will lead to increased psychiatric hospitalizations, emergency room visits, law enforcement involvement, and public health costs. We must take great care in promoting the overall public health benefits from plant medications and not treat them like intoxicants. We must protect our children who aren’t ready yet.

Of course psilocybin can be a strong intoxicant. What we must recognize is that the therapeutic properties and benefits greatly outweigh any benefits found in the recreational intoxicating space. We have to ask ourselves how we want this medicine presented to the public – as a recreational intoxicant, or as a powerful therapeutic tool that may save humanity?

I’ll take the latter any day.

Multiple cities like Denver, Oakland, and Santa Cruz have decriminalized mushrooms. Now is the time to push for regulation as we move toward legalization. The unfortunate part of regulation is that a product can become more expensive and difficult to access for some patients.

But we must regulate to keep people safe.

From a public health standpoint, a few people losing black market access is a fair trade off to prevent more burden on American’s already strained healthcare system. I want people to have access to psilocybin mushrooms, but how do we safely allow access without hurting the general public?

Psilocybin is decriminalized in Denver; however, that hasn’t provided access yet. Only those in-the-know have access to this medicine, and that’s not fair. Without regulation, like cannabis prior to legalization, there isn’t a safe way to access mushrooms. In fact, there’s no way for some people to access mushrooms until we create a legal framework for these plant medicines.

While psilocybin is a beautiful tool that can save the world if used appropriately, it also has a dark side. We risk losing a huge opportunity for humanity if we don’t regulate psychedelics safely with love and light.