Hallucinogenic mushrooms offer Washingtonians relief
Magic mushrooms have been decriminalized in D.C. for a little more than a year, and for many 'shroom users, using the hallucinogen is life as usual.
In 2019, over 5.5 million people in the U.S. used hallucinogens, which are a broad range of psychoactive drugs, including psychedelics such as LSD.
- That's an increase from 1.7% of the population (12 years and older) in 2002 to 2.2% in 2019.
Catch up quick: In 2020, three-fourths of Washingtonians voted to make psilocybin mushrooms the lowest priority of D.C. law enforcement, essentially decriminalizing them.
- The ballot initiative was thanks to a Northeast mom who has used 'shrooms to manage chronic pain since her second pregnancy, she told Washingtonian.
In D.C., some psychedelics are sold at I-71 stores, or stores that gift marijuana with the purchase of another item — a loophole to the city's marijuana laws that allow people to own small amounts of marijuana but not buy or sell.
What they’re saying: People who spoke with Axios, many of whom requested anonymity to protect their professional reputations, say they use 'shrooms to alleviate anxiety and stress.
For Hayden Gise, a 22-year-old in Woodley Park, using 'shrooms every couple of months helps her get out of her own head.
- Friends who use 'shrooms “were able to see their lives from an outside perspective,” which encouraged Gise to try too, she says.
- Gise is able to purchase 'shrooms in chocolate bar format from marijuana gifting delivery services and says her experience using “isn’t like Woodstock,” preferring 1-2 grams or only half of a chocolate bar at a time.
Shane Sullivan — who works for the harm reduction organization HIPS — sees 'shrooms as a way to achieve spirituality, and as a harm reduction tool. Like cannabis, Sullivan says that 'shrooms can provide a “tolerance break” from using other, harder drugs.
- For Sullivan, the experience through microdosing 'shrooms is one of euphoria that relieves depression.
Yes, but: Sullivan says they have had bad experiences using 'shrooms before, describing one trip where they became paranoid while in public that they’d be interrogated by police.
- But decriminalization, they say, had helped alleviate that fear and led to more positive experiences.
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.
- More states are also passing laws to allow research or decriminalize its use.
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