Colorado Votes For 'Shrooms, Choosing Science Over Fear-Mongering Boogeymen

Colorado Votes For 'Shrooms, Choosing Science Over Fear-Mongering Boogeymen

This research will be invaluable when it comes to improving quality of life.

PoliticsNovember 23, 2022 By Anton Sawyer

I’ll never forget the time my mother and I had “the talk” … about drugs. I was six years old, and she looked me dead in the eyes while she spoke, “First, things will be funny, but then everything will become terrifying. Things like scary clowns will be everywhere in your mind. This will keep going until you jump off a building to make it stop. That’s what marijuana will do to you.” And given these were her thoughts on something as innocuous as cannabis, it should be no surprise that when it came to hallucinogens like magic mushrooms or acid, insanity was guaranteed, and you’d be spending the rest of your life at the “funny farm.”

I’m not joking.

But, before judging her too harshly, there are two things to keep in mind. First, my mother never had any experiences with taking drugs—outside of the rare whiskey sour. Second, this was said to me as the Reagan administration had barely ended.  The ability Nancy had in being able to terrify middle America by using the thought of drugs tearing down our society completely via the proliferation of her “Just Say No” campaign cannot be understated. My mother was a perfect target.

What really makes this anecdote especially tragic comes from the fact that there are elected officials who are trying to repeat the same bullshit over 30 years later. Thankfully, most Coloradoans are smarter than my dearly departed mother and have understood the scientific data presented in recent years well enough to not fall for the smoke and mirrors that the fear-mongering boogeymen like to perpetuate.

In this corner, we have the boogeymen:

In October, a letter written by a group of bipartisan elected officials—including mayors, state lawmakers and Colorado’s attorney general—urged voters to reject Proposition 122. Proposition 122 is the ballot initiative passed by voters on November 8th which decriminalizes possession of and legalizes the limited use of psychedelic mushrooms and other plant- and fungi-derived psychedelic drugs by those 21 years of age or older. Also, the “Natural Medicine Health Act of 2022,” will allow the supervised use of two of the drugs found in the mushrooms, psilocybin and psilocin, at state-regulated “healing centers” by 2024. The initiative further establishes the “Natural Medicine Advisory Board” to explore and evaluate ongoing research into psychedelic drugs and their potential health benefits and make recommendations to the legislature and other state entities.

In the letter, the opponents made their feelings well known. "This ballot measure is not based on science and will prematurely unleash a new commercial industry, driven by out-of-state funders that are seeking to capitalize on increasing recreational drug use in Colorado." The opposition letter, organized by the group Blue Rising Together, was signed by the mayors of Denver, Aurora, Colorado Springs, and several smaller communities, as well as former governor Bill Owens, and eight Republican and Democratic state lawmakers. On the law enforcement side, Attorney General Phil Weiser signed, as did four current district attorneys and three former U.S. Attorneys

Rejection of the proposition was also a top priority for Protect Colorado’s Kids, the one issue committee set up to oppose 122. “We’re asking Colorado voters to listen to the scientists,” said Luke Niforatos, who heads Protect Colorado Kids. “The state of the medical evidence right now is, this is not supported.”

I’m sorry Luke but the science—in conjunction with the fact that I’ve seen natural psychedelic therapy used firsthand with incredible results—says otherwise.

The science comes from a 2022 study done by Emmanuelle A. D. Schindler, an assistant professor of neurology at Yale School of Medicine. The goal of the study was to learn if there was concrete evidence of a link between psilocybin and migraine headaches. To get the most accurate data, hers was the first double-blind, placebo-controlled study ever in this field of research. The findings, published in Neurotherapeutics, provide preliminary evidence that the drug could provide long-lasting therapeutic benefits to migraine sufferers.

In the study, Schindler and her colleagues found that psilocybin was associated with a greater reduction in the frequency of migraines compared to a placebo in the two weeks after capsule ingestion. Psilocybin was also associated with reductions in both headache pain severity and migraine-related functional impairments. Psilocybin had a lasting effect on migraines, similar to the effect of taking a daily preventive medication, but psilocybin was only given a single time in this study,” Schindler said. She also makes it clear that, contrary to the naysayers, it isn't going to send you on a trip. "The dose in this study was a low dose, only minimally psychedelic, and people did not have to have a strong (or any) psychedelic experience when they took the drug to have a reduction in their migraine burden over the next couple weeks.” Anecdotal reports have circulated for years that psilocybin lessens migraine symptoms, but there had been little scientific evidence to back the claims until Schindler’s findings were published.

It was because of these anecdotes from years gone by that my wife started using psilocybin for crippling headaches she had for a solid year.

The entire year was hellish. On the medical pain scale, she was at a constant four or five, though she would frequently hit nine or ten. Lights had to be always kept dim and the TV set to a lower volume. During this time she had an MRI and a CT scan, yet nothing was out of the normal—her brain, from every indicator, was functioning as it should. The doctors could do nothing. 

Because we’d both taken magic mushrooms recreationally years prior, and had also read many anecdotal reports in our personal research, we were fairly certain the evidence in support of microdosing with mushrooms for migraine reduction was on solid ground. We went to our “friend,” and got a few grams. Over the next month and a half, my wife would take a very small amount one day, then wait a few days before taking the same amount. By doing this, her pain levels were drastically decreased, and because the amounts were so minute, she wasn’t hallucinating or being unable to function in her daily life. After that month and a half, the headache levels started to diminish. So much so that after two months of our self-devised therapy, they went away completely.

But this evidence is only scratching the surface as there are far more potentially positive outcomes we could see proliferate in a number of various ailments due to the passage of Proposition 122 and the accompanying research.

And that’s another great element to stem from this new reality we live in: more scientific research can be done on natural psychedelic therapy due to the untethering of state laws preventing such a thing from taking place when psychedelics were illegal. Whether it be veterans suffering from PTSD, or those who suffer from crippling headaches, this research will be invaluable when it comes to improving quality of life.

And finally, I truly believe that once the real, grown-up scientists—like the aforementioned Schindler—can begin to research how beneficial these alternative medicines are, it will shut up the naysayers of this country.

Eh, who am I kidding? TV’s Dr. Oz almost became a Senator. There’s always going to be someone willing and ready to buy whatever “science” is being sold to them, no questions asked.