Leave it to the guy who wrote an entire book exploring the misconceptions of psychedelics and their long-term therapeutic potential to have one of the more even keeled takes around Denver’s recent decriminalization. Michael Pollan, who authored the popular How To Change Your Mind, penned a New York Times op-ed following the news of Denver’s successful ballot initiative that cuts against the roaring cheers of the cannabis and psychedelic communities.
Pollan commented that while he supports decriminalization, “ballot initiatives may not be the smartest way” to approach psychedelic law reform. Those reading this blog might be true believers in psilocybin or read research around the efficacy of its medical usage, but many Americans likely remain in the dark about what’s so magic about these mushrooms.
“We still have a lot to learn about the immense power and potential risk of these molecules, not to mention the consequences of unrestricted use,” Pollan writes. “It would be a shame if the public is pushed to make premature decisions about psychedelics before the researchers have completed their work.”
Many advocates were quick to overreact to Pollan’s column stance, as some felt its messaging reminded them of the political condescension previously peddled around marijuana reform. We need more research. Reform can’t happen until we know more. Just keep waiting as patients can’t receive the medicine they need and others are locked up. But Pollan isn’t pushing that position. He believes in decriminalization but is cautioning against advocates forcing the hands of voters into broad medical legalization.
“No one should ever be arrested or go to jail for the possession or cultivation of any kind of mushroom—it would be disingenuous for me to say otherwise, since I have possessed, used and grown psilocybin myself,” he writes.
He goes onto cite research from Johns Hopkins, New York University, and others that have discovered psilocybin’s ability to help treatment-resistant depression as well as having long-lasting positive effects on those suffering with anxiety or addiction. Pollan also mentioned the Food and Drug Administration’s decision to grant psilocybin “breakthrough therapy” status, which could open the doors for other psychedelic researchers.
“I look forward to the day when psychedelic medicines like psilocybin, having proven their safety and efficacy in F.D.A.-approved trials, will take their legal place in society, not only in mental health care but in the lives of people dealing with garden-variety unhappiness or interested in spiritual exploration and personal growth,” writes Pollan.