Now that cannabis is becoming legal statewide on Jan. 1, some folks are wondering if psychedelic fungi—i.e. “magic mushrooms”—will be decriminalized next.
On Aug. 25, Marina mayoral candidate Kevin P. Saunders and his fiancée Dimitric “Kitty” Merchant filed a revolutionary proposal that would legally exempt everyone in the Golden State over the age of 21 from California’s Health and Safety Codes 11390 and 11391; i.e., any penalties for ingesting, possessing, growing, selling, or transporting the drug psilocybin, which is the primary psychoactive component of “magic mushrooms.”
Sound a bit far-fetched? On Nov. 6, California’s Attorney General Xavier Becerra gave the green light for organizers to begin the process of psilocybin decriminalization.
If Saunders and his supporters can gather the necessary 365,880 voter signatures by the end of April 2018, then the California Psilocybin Legalization Initiative will be placed on the statewide ballot next year, and voters will decide its fate. When one considers how many passionate magic mushroom enthusiasts there are here, a giddy feeling erupts, as there just may be enough psychedelically minded voters for this locally based initiative to actually succeed.
The current efforts are focused on decriminalizing the primary psychoactive component of magic mushrooms, psilocybin, not the fruiting fungal bodies themselves. There are actually around 180 different species of mushrooms known to contain psilocybin and they’re all currently illegal.
Saunders believes that now is the right time to act on this historic proposition, because the enchanted fungus can be used to help bridge the political divide in our country and restore its sense of community. He also told me, “2018 will be an off-year election, and there’s going to be a lot of interest in making a statement against Donald Trump, so we’re going to see a heavy turnout at the ballot box.”
This initiative may be the beginning of a larger movement. A similar proposal is currently underway in Oregon, led by the Oregon Psilocybin Society, for a 2020 ballot measure there, which would allow voters to decide about decriminalizing the natural psychedelic molecule in the Beaver State.
Since 2006, more than a dozen psilocybin studies have been conducted at Johns Hopkins University and elsewhere that show great therapeutic promise with little risk. Studies have shown that psilocybin can substantially reduce unhealthy addictive behavior, such as tobacco smoking, and lead to increases in the personality domain of openness, as well as lasting feelings of positive well-being.
Studies have also been shown it to produce a more interconnected brain, enhance creativity, and even foster spiritual experiences that are indistinguishable from those reported throughout history by religious mystics.
Despite the possibility of some people having psychologically disturbing experiences—or, in rare cases, having some transient delusions or panic—it’s important to point out how generally safe psilocybin mushrooms are. According to last year’s Global Drug Survey, they are the very safest of all drugs in terms of the number of people who require emergency medical treatment.
Merchant described other benefits that the Golden State would receive. She said, “It would reduce the cost of law enforcement, with people no longer being arrested, incarcerated and persecuted.” A recent analysis by the California Legislative Analyst’s Office, concluded that legalizing magic mushrooms could reduce law enforcement costs by millions of dollars, while aiding the state with millions in taxes, so it appears that this might be a win-win situation for everyone involved.
Psychedelic mushrooms have been growing in popularity over the past few decades, and now even have their own holiday. Sept. 20 has been designated “Psilocybin Mushroom Day,” as an educational “day of action,” and the celebrations appear to be growing in size every year since its inception in 2014.
Scientific studies show that psychedelic experiences can substantially increase ecological awareness, which is so desperately needed to save our polluted biosphere from the onslaught of climate change—and that’s the primary reason why I think this initiative is so vitally important.
If you’re a California voter and would like to help psilocybin become decriminalized, you can start by following the CPLi Facebook page.
David Jay Brown was voted ‘Best Writer’ in the annual Good Times and Santa Cruz Weekly Best of Santa Cruz polls in 2011, 2012, and 2013. He is the author of more than a dozen books, including ‘Dreaming Wide Awake’ and ‘Women of Visionary Art.’