Magic mushrooms, followed closely by marijuana, are the safest of all recreational drugs, according to this year’s Global Drug Survey,
Out of the 12,000 people who reported taking psilocybin hallucinogenic mushrooms in 2016, only 0.2 percent of them said they needed some type of emergency medical treatment, which is at least five times lower than MDMA, LSD and cocaine.
“Magic mushrooms are one of the safest drugs in the world,” said Dr. Adam Winstock, founder of the Global Drug Survey and a consultant addiction psychiatrist. He said that the bigger risk was when people picked or ate the wrong mushrooms.
“Death from toxicity is almost unheard of with poisoning with more dangerous fungi being a much greater risk in terms of serious harms,” reported the Guardian.
Cannabis itself, by comparison, sent just 0.6 percent of users to the emergency room.
Such ER visits are not uncommon, especially in states with legal recreational weed and in cases when users may be experiencing an anxiety attack. When compared to alcohol and other illicit drugs, however, the risk of death with cannabis is virtually nil.
In terms of magic mushrooms, Winstock said they are not completely harmless, however.
“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,” Winstock explained.
In other words, bad trips can happen.
Although the Guardian pointed to a separate piece of research carried out by Johns Hopkins Medicine posing that even bad trips can have positive outcomes.
Apart from recreational use, magic mushrooms have been shown in clinical trials to be effective in treating depression and anxiety.
And the riskiest drugs are…
On the other side of the spectrum, the three most dangerous substances are alcohol (1.3 percent medical emergency rate), synthetic cannabis (3.2 percent) and crystal meth (4.8 percent).
The Global Drug Survey, with almost 120,000 participants in 50 countries (including lots of High Times readers!), is the world’s biggest annual drug survey, with questions that cover the types of substances people take, patterns of use and whether they experienced any negative effects.
Brad Burge from the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (Maps) urged caution when relying on people reporting their own drug use because they often take multiple drugs at the same time, making it difficult to know which one is causing the problem.
He also highlighted that seeking emergency medical treatment means different things for different drugs.
With a drug such as heroin, a trip to the emergency room is a life-or-death situation requiring resuscitation and medication. With LSD or mushrooms, there is no toxicity, and the effects wear off after a few hours.
“There is no known lethal dose for LSD or pure psilocybin,” said Dr. Burge.
Both Winstock and Burge agree that the findings of the survey clearly indicate a need for drug policy reform, with a focus on shifting psychedelics off the schedule I list of the most dangerous controlled substances.
“Drug laws need to balance the positives and problems they can create in society and well crafted laws should nudge people to find the right balance for themselves,” said Winstock. “People don’t tend to abuse psychedelics, they don’t get dependent, they don’t rot every organ from head to toe, and many would cite their impact upon their life as profound and positive. But you need to know how to use them.”