Going Back to the Basics: Companies Invest in Natural Wellness Products
Though humans have experimented with psychoactive substances for millennia, modern society largely frowns upon using psychoactive compounds found in plants such as cannabis and certain mushrooms. For a relatively short period of time in American history, these compounds have been illegal under federal law.
However, there has been essentially a nationwide rebellion against federal restrictions on cannabis. Many people felt that the federal government's classification of cannabis and derivatives as Schedule I (high risk of abuse and dependence with no accepted medical uses) was too strict. Though there have been hearings and panels on the matter, the federal government continues to treat cannabis as a Schedule I substance, just like heroin and LSD.
States eventually got tired of waiting and began making their own state-legal cannabis programs. In 1996, California opened the first medical cannabis dispensary in the United States. In 2012, Colorado became the first state to allow their medical dispensaries to begin selling cannabis to any adult, regardless of necessity. The federal government has occasionally intervened, with some dispensaries being raided during the Obama administration when they were more controversial. However, the federal government seems to be at relative peace with these measures now.
Corporations and the public are now looking somewhere else for plant-based wellness: mushrooms.
What Are "Shrooms"
Known as "magic mushrooms", these mushrooms produce a hallucinogenic effect when eaten. They have little actual harm potential; the main medical risk is that they could cause a disorder where users have recurring flashbacks. However, any psychedelic drug could cause it.
These are found naturally some places but are more likely to be grown using so-called "spore kits" in homes and businesses. These are considered to be less addictive than cannabis, but they aren't suitable for daily use. They cause a "trip", during which the user becomes delusional and sees geometric distortions; trips can range from depressing and dysphoric to uplifting and euphoric.
These are only technically legal in a few countries, although the count of countries and localities that have legalized the substance has been sharply increasing. Just like cannabis, psilocybin, the active ingredient in these, is federally banned. However, some of the same companies who invested in the "green rush" of cannabis legalization are getting behind initiatives to make legal prescription extracts and even legalize the sale of the mushrooms themselves.
What Effect Would Widespread Use Have?
The DEA has not been able to articulate a clear reason for outlawing hallucinogenic mushrooms. Additionally, the Home Office of the United Kingdom published a study on the harm potential of drugs, showing that shrooms were actually safer than alcohol, tobacco, and cannabis. The most likely reason is because shrooms have never been customary to use in America.
In today's increasingly stressful world, more and more people are turning to escapism. This often comes in the form of seemingly harmless activities, such as "binge watching" TV shows on streaming platforms or having some drinks with friends. However, many people who have used these mushrooms report to have an increased sense of consciousness, unity with the Earth, and empathy for others.
Is It Likely This Wellness Trend Will Come to Fruition?
Yes. Looking at the trend that occurred right before the explosion of cannabis products emerged, a very similar one is now happening for these mushrooms. Several giant corporations have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in both researching the effects of these mushrooms as well as how to make them more easily usable.
To be clear, this substance is still federally banned. The federal government unfortunately set a precedent with cannabis that it will let states determine drug policy even though federal law always trumps state law. Therefore, these companies believe that they'll be able to sell their products in the United States through measures similar to those that sent cannabis from being an illegal substance in all 50 states to making it legal in some form almost everywhere in the country.
Some Last Thoughts
Oddly, support for legalization of this substance doesn't seem to have the same political vitriol that cannabis legalization had. Both Republicans and Democrats in several states and at the federal level are pushing for full legalization or a medical program similar to what is already in place for cannabis. However, it's important to remember that there's a distinction: mushrooms are being investigated for purposes of enhancing general mental well-being, while cannabis is usually used to treat specific symptoms of illnesses.
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