Anthropology

Psychedelics and mental health care – what policymakers need to know

Given its unregulated nature, the Netherlands may arguably represent the upper limit of potential harm from psilocybin truffle legalization. A review of psilocybin harms in the Netherlands for Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology finds that “the use of magic mushrooms rarely (if ever) leads to physical or psychological dependence, that acute and chronic adverse effects are relatively infrequent and generally mild, that public health and public order effects are very limited and that criminality related to the use, production and trafficking of magic mushrooms is almost non-existent.”

In the Netherlands, a legal loophole permitting the sale of magic mushroom truffles has allowed a cottage industry of retail-packaged psychedelics and retreat centers to thrive. Countless tourists consume magic mushrooms freely sold at “smartshops” every year. Truffle dosages are quite imprecise. One popular variety, for instance, indicates the amount of active psilocybin by the number of Saturn-like stickers on the front of the package (five planets is supposed to be a stronger high than three planets and so on). Smartshops advertise events such as “microdose magic truffle yoga,” where participants, some of whom have never done drugs, freely consume psychedelics in an environment that is as accessible as any normal recreational class. No formal counseling is provided, participants are not screened and then are left to continue their day after … In 2019, activists in Denver submitted a ballot initiative to deprioritize prosecution of adult psilocybin [mushroom] possession, [cultivation] and use. It passed, making Denver the first city in the U.S. to reduce the threat of criminal penalties associated with [psilocybe mushrooms] for personal use [home cultivation]. Several months later, the Oakland, Cal., city council approved a similar measure for a variety of fungi- and plant-based psychedelics [including home cultivation]. Emboldened by these victories, activists have launched a handful of upcoming state and local initiatives, including a potential ballot initiative to create a scheme of regulated psilocybin products and services in Oregon [which provides no protections for home cultivation or growing, gathering, and gifting models].

Original Article (Niskanen Center):
Psychedelics and mental health care – what policymakers need to know
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