After marijuana, are magic mushrooms next to be decriminalised in California?

Mayoral candidate near San Francisco tries signatures to set decriminalisation on statewide ballot next year, saying drug could offer healing at time of crisis

As California prepares for the legalisation of recreational marijuana in 2018, one human is pushing for the state to become the first to decriminalise magic mushrooms.

Kevin Saunders, a mayoral nominee for the city of Marina, just south of the San Francisco Bay, has filed a proposal that would exempt adults over the age of 21 from any penalties over possessing, growing, selling or transporting psychedelic psilocybin mushrooms.

If he can get 365,880 voter signatures by the end of April 2018, the California Psilocybin Legalization Initiative will be placed on the statewide ballot.

Saunders thinks that now is the right time because, he says, the narcotic can help bridge the current political divide and restore a sense of community.

” The world is really hurting and everybody is at a loss about what’s going on right now with Trump, Brexit, the refugee crisis and everything else. I’m at a loss at what to do politically, but the only thing I feel like we could do is get psilocybin into more people’s hands ,” he said.

” It deflates the ego and strips down your own walls and defenses and allows you to look at yourself in a different light ,” he said, adding:” It could allow people to figure out what to do and could revolutionise the way we treat those with depression, addiction and cluster headaches .”

A profound magic mushroom experience helped Saunders get over a” debilitate five-year heroin addiction” in 2003, when he was 32.” I got to the root of why I made a conscious decision to become a heroin junkie; I’ve been clean virtually 15 years .”

California is one of eight nations where voters have legalised marijuana for recreational use, even though it’s still is to be found in the federal government’s list of schedule 1 drugs. Saunders and Kitty Merchant, who is co-author of the measure and his fiancee, believe that magic mushrooms- also listed as schedule 1 drugs- are the next logical step.

” I think we have learned a lot from marijuana and we are ready as a society ,” he told.

So far, they have about 1,000 signatures, but plan to ramp up signature-gathering efforts in early December at college campuses and events like the medical marijuana summit The Emerald Cup. Eighty-five thousand signatures will trigger hearings at the state capitol.

Merchant and Saunders are not the first couple to propose legalising mushrooms. The husband and wife squad Tom and Sheri Eckhert announced earlier this year that they were pushing for a similar ballot measure in Oregon, hoping to make it the first state in the US to legalise the medication.

They have taken a more conservative approach than Saunders has, aiming for a 2020 vote and was striving to legalise the narcotic to be taken only in licensed centres under the supervision of a certified facilitator. Someones would not be able to simply buy the mushrooms and devour them at home as they can with marijuana.

” It’s not only astonishing for mental health, there’s also a lot of potential for self-development and creative work ,” Tom Eckhert told Vice in July.

Their endeavours run in parallel to several promising clinical trials in which psychedelic mushrooms have been used to successfully treat severe depression, anxiety and addiction.

Robin Carhart-Harris, who has been studying the use of psilocybin to tackle treatment-resistant depression at Imperial College London, believes that it is a” logical inevitability” that the narcotic will become available to patients.

However, such legalisation will merely take place once final stage 3 clinical trials are completed and the drug is approved by the FDA and the European Medicines Agency. To standardise the dose, the psilocybin would have to be administered in capsule or pill kind.

” Depression is such a major problem and it’s not being treated effectively at the moment. A plenty of patients aren’t seeing outcomes with traditional antidepressants ,” Carhart-Harris said, adding that psilocybin could be a legal medicine- to be administered in clinics- within the next five years.

Although magic mushrooms are the safest of all the medications in terms of the number of people who require emergency medical treatment, according to last year’s Global Drug Survey , they are continuing carry hazards.

” They are narcotics with very low toxicity and very low abuse potential ,” told psychiatrist Adam Winstock, founder of the Global Drug Survey, who said that if you take into account how often people take them, they are safer than cannabis.

” The only change being the potential for mushrooms to distort your perceptions, cognition, emotions in a way that is totally outside of most people’s real of normal experience. For a minority of people, taken in the wrong situation, that could be terrifying .”

Winstock is inviting people to fill out the 2018 Global Drug Survey, an annual anonymous survey that analyses international drug use patterns.

Winstock said he’d prefer to see a well-regulated marketplace for magic mushrooms where you’d have to show a letter from a doctor saying you were not receiving any acute mental health care or drugs. Buyers should also be given advice on how to use the narcotic, what the effects are and given links to online services to manage difficult situations if they develop.

” I would get people to treat mushrooms with the respect they deserve ,” he said.

The Drug Policy Alliance, a not-for-profit group focused on ending the” war on narcotics “, would not comment on the specific proposals in California and Oregon, but its director of legal affairs, Tamar Todd, told:” We surely agree that nobody should be arrested or incarcerated simply because they possessed or utilized drugs .”

An earlier version of this article erroneously stated that Robin Carhart-Harris works at University College London. He is at Imperial College London .

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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