A group in Utah is out to legalize psilocybin in the state.
The aptly named non-profit Utah Mushroom Therapy has launched a petition to “strongly encourage Utah legislators to pass a bipartisan bill that allows the legal use of psilocybin for clinical and academic purposes, and includes protection for individuals practicing under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.”
Utah Mushroom Therapy says it intends to present the petition to members of the state Senate next month. The group’s efforts come almost a year after the state’s Republican governor, Spencer Cox, signed a bill that created a task force to study the use of psychedelics as a mental health treatment.
According to the group, the creation of the task force means that “legalizing and decriminalizing Psilocybin in Utah is now very likely but still needs public support.”
Utah Mushroom Therapy outlines a number of reasons why it backs the legalization of mushrooms for therapy and research, arguing that it could improve mental health and support spiritual practice.
“Numerous robust studies have shown that psilocybin therapy is beneficial in reducing treatment-resistant depression, anxiety, addiction, trauma, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and other mental health disorders. It is more effective than synthetic pharmaceuticals by a large margin. Psilocybin has also shown effectiveness in easing fear and anxiety in people with terminal cancer. For instance, a groundbreaking study performed by John Hopkins Medicine found that psilocybin reported better moods and greater mental health after participating in a single clinical dose,” the group says on its website.
“The use of mushrooms has been documented in 15 indigenous groups in America and various religious communities in Utah. This petition supports those groups who wish to use psilocybin safely, sincerely, and as a necessary part of their religion. The use of psilocybin does not contradict other Utah cultures and is protected by the first amendment as well as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. This petition is to advocate Utah law to protect the religious rights of Utahns,” the group continued.
In addition, the group says that legalization of shrooms would reduce criminality and would serve as a safe and effective treatment.
“Psilocybin is a natural, non-toxic substance. Despite this, it is currently a Schedule I substance. Scientists have demonstrated it has profound medicinal value and believe serotonergic hallucinogens assist cognitive processes and should be decriminalized. Psychedelics can change perception and mood, help people soften their perspective and outlook, and process events that may otherwise lead to substance abuse, trauma, and criminal behavior,” the group says on its website.
“Psilocybin mushrooms are considered one of the least toxic medicines known to man. Recorded cases of death exclusively attributed to psilocybin mushrooms are extremely rare. To put this in perspective, Internationally, there were 30,811 deaths from antidepressants between 2015 and 2020,” the group added.
In urging Utah voters to sign, the group stresses that the “petition is in no way an endorsement of illegal drug use.”
“By signing this petition, you are supporting the safe and legal use of Psilocybin, a naturally occurring compound,” the group says.
Psilocybin and hallucinogenics represent the next frontier in the legalization movement, as state and local officials increasingly reconsider the once taboo substances.
On New Year’s Day, Oregon became the first state in the U.S. to legalize psilocybin use for adults after voters there approved a ballot measure in 2020.
That proposal, Measure 109, “allowed local authorities to opt out of Measure 109 by forwarding to voters either two-year moratoriums or bans on psilocybin services,” the Oregon Capital Chronicle reported in November.
“Authorities in 27 Oregon counties and 114 cities and towns asked voters to consider two-year moratoriums or bans. Among the latter, only two – Phoenix in Jackson County and Wheeler in Tillamook County – authorized psilocybin services,” the outlet said. “Nevertheless, most of Oregon’s most populous counties and cities have cleared the way for psilocybin production by authorized facilities. Supporters of psilocybin services say that therapy with the hallucinogen will be locally available to nearly 3 million Oregon residents beginning in 2023. In all, 17 of Oregon’s 20 most populous cities are allowing psilocybin services along with 11 Oregon counties.”