Michael Pollan: Not So Fast on Psychedelic Mushrooms

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Michael Pollan: Not So Fast on Psychedelic Mushrooms
Psilocybin has a lot of potential as medicine, but we don’t know enough about it yet to legalize it.

Mr. Pollan is the author of “How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence.”

Dried psilocybin mushrooms. Denver just voted to make taking them a low-priority crime. Only a few days ago, millions of Americans probably had never heard of psilocybin, the active agent in psychedelic mushrooms, but thanks to Denver, it is about to get its moment in the political sun. On Tuesday, the city’s voters surprised everyone by narrowly approving a ballot initiative that effectively decriminalizes psilocybin, making its possession, use or personal cultivation a low-priority crime.

The move is largely symbolic — only 11 psilocybin cases have been prosecuted in Denver in the last three years, and state and federal police may still make arrests — but it is not without significance. A measure legalizing psilocybin therapy is likely to be on the ballot in Oregon in 2020, and activists in California are mounting a second campaign to get a decriminalization measure on the ballot there. For the first time since psychedelics were broadly banned under the 1970 Controlled Substances Act, we’re about to have a national debate about the .

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