Nubis Devante, Times Staff
Santa Cruz’s City Council unanimously approved a measure to decriminalize psychedelic mushrooms on Jan. 28.
The measure states that investigation and arrest for the possession or cultivation of psychedelic mushrooms by any person 21 and over is now a low priority infraction, meaning the largest consequence for mushroom possession will be at most a fine.
Magic mushrooms contain psilocybin, a hallucinogenic substance that can cause feelings of euphoria and sensory distortion, according to the Medical News Today website. Interacting directly with the receptors in the brain, psilocybin activates serotonin when consumed, making it a popular recreational drug.
Users report visual distortions while also having intensified emotions and feelings. Science blog How Stuff Works wrote that users may see patterns and colors that are not actually there.
When tripping off magic mushrooms, the perception of time may seem like it does not exist so users can expect to feel that hours have passed by in minutes. It is also possible for users to experience changed perceptions of the universe or feel closer to a higher power.
According to the Drug Policy Alliance’s website, psilocybin mushrooms have had a long history of medicinal and recreational use. For thousands of years, indigenous tribes from Europe and the Americas have been using magic mushrooms for medicinal and ceremonial purposes.
Many different countries including the U.S. started clinical experiments to explore the medicinal uses for psilocybin, but research ended in the 1970s when magic mushrooms became a Schedule I drug because of its claimed high potential for abuse.
“People who take more than a medicinal dose of magic mushrooms are abusing the drug,” said Andrew Bonnit, 25, psychology major at Mission college. “Magic mushrooms do have potential to be helpful but would probably do more harm than good.”
“Psychology Today” claimed Magic mushrooms might help people with mental disorders such as depression, panic disorders and PTSD. It has also been claimed to help people who struggle with alcohol or other drug addictions, according to TIME magazine in an article written in 2012.
“Shrooms (magic mushrooms) offer a different perspective to life,” said SJCC student Nageen Bibi, 21, communications major. “ It allows you to look at life through a different lense, giving you a chance to broaden your perspective on different things; and it should be accessible to everyone.”
Clinical trials and research for psychedelic drugs are still in progress.
People are able to apply for psychedelic clinical trials with Psychedelic Support, an organization dedicated to providing information and resources about medicinal psychedelics.
Psychologists and scientists are actively researching the benefits of drugs like magic mushrooms for the potential to help more people suffering from severe mental illnesses.