Medical Mushrooms Leave No Room For the Magic

In Oregon, when voters approved Ballot Measure 109 calling for the legalization of psilocybin in November 2020, there was a silent hurrah throughout the state among people who took magic mushrooms for fun that went something like this: “Now we can go in to a psilocybin store and get a few grams of ‘shrooms—or maybe a handful—for the next concert.”

But that wasn’t the case. The measure was created to provide psilocybin for mental health therapy. It was strictly medicine. Wasn’t it?

Sometime early next year, if all goes according to plan, anyone over 21 will be able to go into a store in the state and buy magic mushrooms. But then they would have to sit through an “administration session” as a client of the facility, where they would consume and experience the effects of psilocybin under the supervision of a licensed psilocybin service facilitator. An “integration session” would follow where the client and a psilocybin service facilitator would discuss the experience.

It’s all pretty much just an extended doctor’s office visit, and brings into sharp focus what some believe to be the hollow victory of the state’s recreational psilocybin legalization: They are not for recreation at all.

Right now, the state is still in the process of setting up all the details of this psilocybin buying/selling/experiencing program. This includes: establishing rules by the end of the year; securing and customizing a product tracking system; creating an equity and justice centered approach to background checks; continuing to hire licensing and compliance teams; supporting the Oregon Psilocybin Advisory Board and subcommittees; creating education and training for their regulatory community and the public; and more.

But people looking for recreational fun with ‘shrooms don’t want to go to a medical clinic, or whatever these facilities will be morphing into as the regulations are developed and they begin operations. 

And outside of the concert or the dance club, people are beginning to use psilocybin as a smidgen of a bit of ‘shroom in their morning coffee, for example, to help set up a relaxing and productive day. That’s a trend that is catching on, rooted in Silicon Valley enterprises.

So the questions remain: Is legalized recreational psilocybin strictly medicine? Or can it also be a daily brain treat like some sort of advanced specialized brain health supplement? Or is it—will it become—a whole new recreational experience once people began tinkering with it outside of clinical studies and beyond the scope of any new regulations?

Not even the current Oregon state regulatory body can figure that out. Microdosing was not addressed, meaning that, even though recreational psilocybin is legal, microdosing is illegal right now. 

And there is confusion and debate around how medical Oregon’s psychedelics program will be structured. “I think there’s been a disconnect in what voters were told to expect when they voted and now. People will want mental health treatment but it’s not medical,” said Kimberley Golletz, a licensed psychologist and member of the Oregon Psilocybin Advisory Board giving guidance on the rules, as quoted in an article by Stat, a health and life sciences publication.

Real recreational legalization is part of the goal of Red Light Holland (OTC: TRUFF), an Ontario-based company that offers microdoses of magic truffles in their iMicrodose kit. A magic truffle is the fruiting body below the ground of the psilocybin mushroom. Magic truffles and magic mushrooms are both parts of the same organism that creates psilocybin, and have the same trippy effects after ingestion (though truffles’ effects are reportedly milder). Due to a loophole in Dutch law, magic truffles are legal but magic mushrooms are not. No therapists. No integration sessions. Just responsible adults going about their business buying magic truffles and enjoying their psilocybin experience.

Red Light Holland has been working on getting their products to other countries, such as Brazil and Canada, from their grow operations in The Netherlands. 

The company was created around the production, growth and sale of magic truffles to the legal, recreational market within the Netherlands, in compliance with all applicable laws. 

In an interview with The Street, an investment information company, Red Light Holland director and CEO Todd Shapiro said that he believes that magic truffles are a consumer goods product that is poised to cross more international borders. “We’re doing this because people are getting it anyway,” he said. “There are illicit markets anywhere you look. If people want to get access to this anyway, why not do it legally, why not do it carefully, and responsibly, and provide them that education that we are doing now. The careful use is the most important thing.”

So psilocybin is medical, but not… it’s illegal everywhere, except where it’s not… it’s turning into something like an uplifting food and beverage supplement to be combined with yoga or meditation, but that’s not really it either. It’s morphing, it’s evolving, it’s a moving target.

Perhaps the best thing that recreational psilocybin legalization has done is put more focus on achieving better brain health in general. According to results from an AARP survey, nearly one-quarter of adults age 18 and older currently take a supplement to maintain or improve brain health or delay or reverse dementia. That means that 58 million Americans (30 million age 50+) buy supplements believing it will help their brain health. Nine million adults age 50+ (8 percent) are taking a dietary supplement thinking it will actually reverse dementia.

Bottom line? There actually is no defined bottom line. But keep an eye on Oregon’s program, which could become the model of recreational psilocybin for other states as decriminalization continues—if all goes according to plan.

Dave Hodes

David Hodes is a business journalist based in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area. He has contributed feature articles to several cannabis and psychedelics publications, as well as general business/lifestyle publications, on a variety of topics. Hodes was selected as 2018 Journalist of the Year by Americans for Safe Access. He is a member of the National Press Club, and the deputy booking agent for the National Press Club Headliners Committee.


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