Psilocybin mushrooms have been consumed by humans since prehistoric times, but they are prohibited in the United States of America and the majority of the world. The effects of the mushrooms include closed-eye/open-eye visuals, euphoria, time distortion, and spiritual experiences. The altered state of perception is what gives them the nickname “Magic Mushrooms” and is the reason that the use of the mushrooms is controversial. These mushrooms are used by people to develop spiritually, but are also used recreationally. New research suggests that these mushrooms may be the cure to a variety of conditions such as cluster headaches, obsessive compulsive disorder(OCD), drug addiction, post-traumatic stress disorder(PTSD), and depression. The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies(MAPS) is an organization that pushes for the medical use of psychedelic substances and definitely supports the legalization of medicinal psilocybin mushrooms.
The Drug Enforcement Administration(DEA) is responsible for enforcing the controlled substances laws which deny that psilocybin has any accepted medical use. The point of contention between these two stakeholders is that the medicinal use of psilocybin mushrooms can not be legally permissible unless they are removed from the schedule one list under the Controlled Substances Act(CSA), therefore the perfect compromise is that the Drug Enforcement Administration will remove psilocybin from the schedule one list with further evidential research proving psilocybin can serve medical purposes from the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies. The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies is a non-profit, educational organization that advocates for the development of “medical, legal, and cultural contexts” of psychedelics and marijuana”(About MAPS). MAPS has funded psychedelic and medical marijuana research with over twenty million dollars since it was founded in 1986.
The MAPS is exploring the potential use of psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy in the treatment of patients suffering with anxiety associated with life-threatening illness(Psilo-LSD Assisted Psychotherapy). MAPS’ psilocybin studies will be used to guide development of future treatment methods by creating new research procedures and meeting modern medicine standards. The Drug Enforcement Administration is an agency under the United States Department of Justice that works against illegal drug trade and use. The DEA is one of the two federal agencies that determine which substances are added to or removed from the various schedules in the Controlled Substances Act(CSA), the other being the Food and Drug Administration(FDA). The CSA establishes the policy in which the production, movement, possession, use and distribution of specific substances are regulated. Under the CSA, Psilocybin is a Schedule 1 substance for the reason that the CSA was amended by the Psychotropic Substances Act of 1978 which suggested that psilocybin has a “high potential for abuse, no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision”(Title 21 United States Code Controlled Substances Act). Both, the MAPS and the DEA have their own stances on the medical and legal aspects of psilocybin mushrooms. It may seem like they have opposing agendas, but both of these organizations share the goal that is to educate the public and reduce harm overall.
Whether or not the use of psilocybin for medical therapy is legalized, it will be sought after and used by many. The main issue with psilocybin mushrooms is the lack of knowledge and understanding about them. All substances have to be handled with caution, even over-the-counter medicines have guidelines and risks. Therefore, these organizations need to come together to bind an agreement in which the safety of the people is prioritized over past ideologies. For instance, marijuana used to be completely illegal and now medical marijuana is currently legal in twenty-nine states and may eventually be legal in all of the United States as more people learn about the significant role marijuana can have in medical treatment. The acceptance of medicinal psilocybin will gradually occur with an expansion in research and education. The MAPS would also need legal permission to pursue further and deeper research due to the status of psilocybin. Although scientists continue to discover promising attributes, restrictive laws hinder their research and studies.
This is not the first time the MAPS would need legal permission to study a substance, the organization received permission from the FDA on August 16, 2017 to conduct final phase research trials assessing the use of MDMA for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder(MDMA-Assisted Psychotherapy). The MAPS and the DEA can both agree that additional research would not only benefit the scientific community, but could also benefit society as a whole. The more information people know about psilocybin, the safer they will be. The DEA may not recognize psilocybin’s medical aspects just yet, but that could change with more research and studies concerning these attributes.
The MAPS even states that “…completed and future research conforms to modern drug development standards, and will help guide the development of additional research”(Psilo-LSD Assisted Psychotherapy). Psilocybin also has no psychologically or physically addictive properties and use does not lead to dependence(Psilocybin/Psilocyn, CESAR). Abuse of the substance is nearly impossible because tolerance is built up so quickly that after few uses with no abstinence, no amount would produce effects until there is a period of discontinued use(Psilocybin/Psilocyn, CESAR). Like any substance, psilocybin has to be handled with care and precaution. If the MAPS gathers enough scientific evidence through unbiased experiments and studies to support the medical use of psilocybin, then the DEA should aim to remove psilocybin from the schedule 1 list of the CSA in order to allow the psilocybin-assisted medical practices to take place.
As society grows on to accept the possibilities and opportunities of psychedelic medicine, the medical world can prosper and flourish with new discoveries related to treatment of cluster headaches, anxiety, depression, psycho-therapy(especially in relation to victims of PTSD), and understanding more about how the brain and it’s receptors work. Many people who seek the medical properties of psilocybin go through a lot of trouble obtaining the mushrooms because of the illegality. The DEA would not have to use as many resources on the controlling of the substance and could focus more on other missions due to the great shift that would occur from illegal possession to the use of mushrooms under medical advisory.