Research organization predicts psilocybin will be legal as a medicine 'in a few years'

Research organization predicts psilocybin will be legal as a medicine 'in a few years'

VicesJanuary 16, 2018 By Reilly Capps

Psilocybin may be coming soon to a community near you.

An American research organization says it hopes psilocybin, the main ingredient in magic mushrooms, will be approved as a medicine in "a few years."

That's the assessment of George Greer, of the world's authorities on psilocybin, a psychiatrist and president of the Heffter Research Institute, which has been researching psilocybin for 24 years.

Greer consults with the Usona Institute, which is currently contracting with clinical researchers for a huge phase III clinical trial of psilocybin for depression. If the drug proves useful, the FDA could approve psilocybin as a prescription medication. 

It's becoming clearer: one way or another, psilocybin seems destined to find its way to legality. How it's done is yet to be determined. It might become a medicine through clinical trials, or it might be through a vote. Groups in Oregon, California, and Colorado are working to put mushrooms on the local ballot in upcoming elections. A Denver group hopes to have it on the ballot this year. 

Along with the work being done by Usona, clinical trials for psilocybin are beginning in Europe by the company Compass Pathways, funded by tech bigwig Peter Thiel.

Legalizing them might just seem to be a way to keep your wook friends out of jail, but access to psilocybin for folks might actually matter. Studies show they cure cluster headaches and reduce the sting of the fear of death. A study of psilocybin treating coke addiction should finish up this May at the University of Alabama Birmingham.

"In the depressed brain, in the addicted brain, in the obsessed brain, it gets locked into a pattern of thinking or processing that's driven by the frontal, the control center," David Nutt, the director of the neuropsychopharmacology unit in the division of brain sciences at Imperial College London, told Business Insider in January. "Psychedelics disrupt that process so people can escape."

Mushrooms can still freak you out, so don't scarf a big wad of boomers before your next root canal.

Usona's route to legal mushrooms is far from clear. But it has already taken many concrete steps. Usona met with the DEA in October. It's setting up psilocybin production in Madison, Wisconsin and San Luis Obispo, California.

So what date exactly should people start looking for a psilocybin doctor?

"It is so incredibly complex with so many uncertain contingencies that saying a date would be pulling it out of the air," Greer said via email. “'A few years' is the most accurate answer I can give."

[George Greer, MD, psilocybin expert and president of the Heffter Research Institute, which funds studies on psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms.]