Let’s face it, we’d all love to be like Bradley Cooper’s character in the movie Limitless. All you’d have to do is pop a magic pill and, voila, you’re able to tap into our full mental power and learn practically anything at will.
Well, magic mushrooms don’t exactly give you superhuman intelligence, but studies on them show that psilocybin, the chemical in them that gets you high, can sharpen your mind in ways that were previously unknown.
That’s the reason hallucinogenic drugs are making their way into mainstream society. Not too long ago social media sites like Reddit became abuzz with silicon techies who swore how microdosing on LSD and other psychedelics helped them recharge their batteries while on the job. Steve Jobs, the late Apple co-founder once confessed how the use of LSD helped him design the packaging for his Apple products, and said the psychedelic drug was “one of the two or three most important things I have done in my life.”
Now, these same products have moved from Silicon Valley and are fast becoming the recreational drug of choice among ordinary people. Rather than chasing a high, these guys just want to feel good about themselves. College professors, accountants and even ordinary moms and dads are now joining the bandwagon. Whether it’s commuting to work, or doing household chores a growing number of them confess to swallowing a tiny dose of shrooms to get them through the day.
And why not? There’s overwhelming evidence that the positive changes that microdosing has brought to their lives is more than just a figment of their imaginations. The most commonly mentioned benefits shown both from lab-based research and anecdotes from users are improved mood, sharper focus and productivity, as well as being able to connect with others better.
How It All Started
Microdosing first appeared in San Francisco almost a decade ago. In 2011 an American psychologist and writer by the name James Fadiman wrote The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide, introducing the word microdosing into popular culture. In the book, he recommended 10 micrograms of LSD every three days as the best dosage to get the right results. Fadiman immediately got a huge following across the US and around the world, prompting researchers to start studying psychedelic drugs.
Not that LSD hadn’t been tried before. In the ‘50s and ‘60s acid had been used to treat mood disorders like alcoholism and anxiety but was declared illegal in the US in 1968 as horror stories of users overdosing and having bad trips started surfacing. Consequently, research into its clinical use came to a standstill.
Decriminalization of Magic Mushrooms
To this day psychedelics like magic mushrooms remain illegal in most parts of the US, although several cities in the US like Denver and Oakland have moved to legalize them. In Canada, the magic mushrooms remain illegal except for medical purposes and scientific research, although it’s probably only a matter of time before its recreational use is decriminalized.
That’s because public opinion against soft drugs like cannabis is on the wane. In 2014 Pew Research Center did a survey showing that American attitudes towards drugs were fast-changing and that a new policy on drugs was needed. The survey showed that
- The majority of respondents believed that U.S. drug policy needed to focus more on treatment than incarceration.
- The number of respondents who thought marijuana should be legalized had gradually increased.
- Most of those surveyed thought that mandatory drug sentences were not necessarily a good thing.
- Three-quarters of the respondents thought people shouldn’t be jailed for possessing small amounts of cannabis.
- The bulk of those surveyed believed that alcohol is more harmful than cannabis.
No surprise then that in October 2018 Canada legalized marijuana federally, becoming the first member of G7 states to do so, and was followed by the US. Given this turn of events, it’s only logical to expect that magic mushrooms and other beneficial psychedelics will be fully legalized in the not so far future.
Findings presented by Researchers at the Beyond Psychedelics conference in Prague in June. (Source: The Benefits and Drawbacks of Microdosing Psychedelics)
Research Bodies Playing Catch-up
It wouldn’t be too far-fetched to say that research bodies are also going through a renaissance of sorts as far as psychedelics are concerned. There’s now more focus on hallucinogenic substances by renowned scientists than ever before with psilocybin leading the way as one of the most talked-about drugs in medical circles. The B.C. Centre on Substance Use, for example, has put together a team of reputable researchers with the intention of making Vancouver an important global player when it comes to researching mind-altering drugs used to treat addiction and mental disorders.
Further afield, Johns Hopkins Medicine armed with $17 million in donations, is set to launch the Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research. The center intends to investigate the feasibility of using psychedelic chemicals such as LSD, psilocybin, and ketamine in the management of mental health illnesses especially Alzheimer’s, PTSD and anorexia nervosa, as well as opioid addiction and alcohol abuse. This follows the opening of Imperial College London’s psychedelic treatment center in the UK in April 2019.
Researchers from Johns Hopkins University have also endorsed the reclassification of psilocybin from a class I drug in the US to pave the way for its use in treating depression.