Happy New Year from Psillow!
2019 has been a huge year for psilocybin, and psychedelics in general. Interest is growing massively within the spheres of science, public opinion, politics, and business. It’s been exciting to hear the proclamations of a ‘psychedelic renaissance’ amidst decriminalization efforts and groundbreaking scientific findings. Psilocybin has certainly captured the attention of curious minds at a level not seen since the ‘70s.
Psilocybin science and policy advances
This incredible interest in the therapeutic benefits of psilocybin has pulled some big players into the psychedelic space. Two American organizations have received the coveted ‘Breakthrough Therapy’ designation from the FDA for clinical trials involving synthetic psilocybin. The non-profit Usona Institute will be exploring Major Depressive Disorder, while pharmaceutical start-up Compass Pathways tackles Treatment-Resistant Depression.
The latter has become one of the fastest-growing entities in the psychedelic domain and recently published findings demonstrating the safety of psilocybin in a clinical setting. Their corporate focus is on synthetic psilocybin production, and the development of clinical standards and procedures for psychedelic therapy using their product.
This growing base of scientific support goes on to assist the various decriminalization campaigns that are being undertaken, with nearly 100 cities considering the policy in the United States alone. Further, larger efforts are also starting to coalesce, with Oregon’s state-wide vote — termed PSI2020 — receiving support from some big names. Unfortunately, this ballot initiative isn’t actually a decriminalization effort; the proposal seeks to implement a therapeutic avenue through licensing and regulation.
These therapeutic applications of psilocybin are being noticed by law-makers and those that define policy, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Presidential hopeful Andrew Yang:
Opinions on access to psilocybin
Already, lines between factions are being drawn, with optimism, skepticism, and criticism from all sides. The primary question of division is where and how people should be allowed to interact with psilocybin, and the mushrooms that contain it. Avoiding conflict should be a paramount goal within any community — but it is imperative to notice, discuss and understand the nature of potential fracture.
One side believes that psilocybin access should be gated by licensed professionals who are trained to administer the compound. Michael Pollan, the NYT Bestselling Author of How to Change your Mind, is a proponent of this approach and believes it is much too early to discuss legalization.
This ‘psilocybin as a service’ model assumes a good-faith effort on the side of pharmaceutical producers, distributors, and medical facilitators to maximize accessibility over profits. Otherwise, these treatments may be out of reach to the general public as a niche, ‘alternative’ therapy of last resort.
Clinical gating and ‘pharmaceuticalization’ create new hurdles for the psychedelic community at large. It sets the precedent that psilocybin use — outside of a medical setting — is ‘drug abuse’ or purely recreational. It may hinder or quash the patchwork network of psilocybin therapy providers who have supported the practice over the last decades.
It also largely ignores the millennia of indigenous tradition that has informed nearly everything we currently know about psychedelics. Individuals who use psilocybin for ‘unapproved’ healing modalities stand to be shunned or limited in their application.
PEACH: Psychedelic Education and Community Healing
The other side of the debate believes that the very nature of psychedelics is uninhibited and disapproving of gated access. It cannot be boiled down to a simple ‘procedure’ or ‘therapy’. Benefits from psilocybin are not limited to those with diagnosed mental illness — psychedelics contribute to the betterment of people who are healthy and well, and to the communities that house them.
Given the safety profile of psilocybin, ranking below caffeine and cannabis, the stalwarts of education and harm-reduction are adequate to justify legalization. While it remains largely underground and private, there is a diffuse architecture of support and guidance that pervades the current psychedelic landscape. This community network will only strengthen over the coming months and years; our goal at Psillow is to provide an infrastructure on which this worldwide organism can grow.
Looking forward to psilocybin in 2020
2019 felt like the year when science and public opinion truly started to warm to the idea of psychedelic therapy and acceptance. 2020 will be the time to listen, reflect and understand the potential future of psilocybin and all-natural ‘magic mushrooms’. The prevailing winds point in the direction of clinical management, oversight, and strict regulation — at a significant cost to accessibility at worst, or minimal change from the status quo at best.
It will be people like you that keep the discussion open and inclusive through the next year. Stories of betterment, transcendence, learning, intimacy, and connection will provide context to the clinical trials that go on behind closed doors. Your experiences should, and can, be empowered to form the foundation of free and unhindered psychedelic enjoyment. Your expertise and passion can build the future of psilocybin acceptance, understanding, and education.