Aug 23, 2022 - Politics

Hallucinogen use in the U.S. is on the rise, study shows

Illustration of a mushroom casting a light like a street lamp
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Hallucinogen use in the United States has increased among adults in the last two decades, Axios' Sareen Habeshian reports.

Driving the news: In 2019, over 5.5 million people nationwide used hallucinogen — a broad range of psychoactive drugs that includes psychedelics like LSD — according to a recent study.

  • That's an increase from 1.7% of the population (12 years and older) in 2002, to 2.2% in 2019.

Why it matters: The study, published in peer-reviewed journal Addiction, is the first to provide formal statistical analyses of hallucinogen use trends in the last 20 years, according to researchers at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health and its Irving Medical Center.

Zoom in: San Francisco Supervisors Dean Preston and Hillary Ronen in July introduced legislation that would effectively decriminalize the use of psychedelics like LSD and psychedelic mushrooms.

  • If passed, San Francisco would join about a dozen cities across the country that have decriminalized the use of psychedelics, including in nearby Oakland, Santa Cruz and Denver, Colorado, the San Francisco Standard reports. The SF legislation would not, however, make psychedelics legal at the state and federal level.
  • In April, Professor Seagull's Smartshop opened in North Beach to sell psychedelics "in the form they are legally allowed to be presented," the store's owner told SFGATE.

The big picture: MDMA, psilocybin and LSD — combined with psychotherapy — have shown promise for treating a range of addictions and mental health disorders, Axios' Alison Snyder writes.

  • The Food and Drug Administration granted breakthrough therapy status to MDMA and psilocybin, signaling a shift in the potential for incorporating psychedelics into the existing health care infrastructure.

What they're saying: "There is an unmet need in San Francisco for the compassionate and effective care that these medicinal plants can provide," Supervisor Preston said at the Board of Supervisors meeting introducing the bill.

Flashback: Tens of thousands of people descended on Golden Gate Park in 1967 to protest a law banning the use of LSD. The Human Be-In also served as the catalyst for the Summer of Love, and "spurred the radical ascension of psychedelic science research into mainstream medicine."

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