Will California Vote To Decriminalize Magic Mushrooms In 2018?

By Victoria Kim 11/08/17

A former mayoral candidate is pushing to get magic mushrooms decriminalized for Californians that are 21 and over. 

small poisonous mushrooms toadstool group psilocybin

Californians may get the chance to vote on whether to decriminalize psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, in the 2018 election.

Last Friday, former mayoral candidate Kevin Saunders officially filed a ballot measure with the California Attorney General’s Office to decriminalize the consumption, possession, and sale of magic mushrooms for Californians 21 and older.

Saunders’ proposal was first submitted this past August. “What I want to do is take the shackles off,” he said at the time, according to the Sacramento Bee. “I want to have an adult conversation. We think that things are evolving so quickly and that minds are opening almost daily.”

Psilocybin is labeled by the federal government as a Schedule I drug, alongside heroin, cannabis, and LSD. This means that according to the U.S. government, these drugs have no medical benefit and a high potential for abuse.

Saunders still needs to collect 365,880 valid signatures to qualify his proposal for the 2018 election, allowing California voters to decide on the ballot measure.

Magic mushrooms may be among the least controversial drugs today, especially compared with alcohol, heroin, and OxyContin. The 2017 Global Drug Survey, which looked at data from 120,000 individuals from over 50 countries, concluded that “magic mushrooms are one of the safest drugs in the world.”

“Death from toxicity is almost unheard of with poisoning with more dangerous fungi being a much greater risk in terms of serious harms,” Adam Winstock, a consultant addiction psychiatrist who founded the Global Drug Survey, told the Guardian earlier this year.

In addition, the survey found that people who use psychedelic drugs are the most likely to practice safe drug use—but these drugs are not totally harmless. “Combined use with alcohol and use within risky or unfamiliar settings increase the risks of harm, most commonly accidental injury, panic and short lived confusion, disorientation and fears of losing one’s mind,” said Winstock.

And studies have shown promising results regarding the therapeutic properties of psychedelic drugs. YouGov cited research by NYU and Johns Hopkins researchers that showed that “a single treatment with psilocybin reduced anxiety and depression in 80% of cancer patients.” 

MDMA and ketamine have also been shown to have the potential to relieve PTSD symptoms and depression. These psychedelic treatments are usually paired with counseling and medical supervision.

According to YouGov, more than half of Americans (53%) support medical research of psychedelic drugs.

Saunders himself said that his experience with psychedelic mushrooms “saved him from his heroin addiction,” according to Newsweek.

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr