Psilocybin is a psychoactive chemical found in 200+ species of mushrooms that grow all over the world and throughout the United States. People have eaten psilocybin mushrooms for hundreds, likely thousands, of years using it as a medicine, as a spiritual tool, to learn, and to connect to nature.
Universities and scientists around the world are studying psilocybin's medical potential as a treatment for depression, anxiety, and addiction. So far, the results show that psilocybin may revolutionize psychiatry. But the benefits of psilocybin go beyond helping people with mental illness.
Studies show psilocybin to be safe and suggest a range of benefits for healthy adults when used in a controlled, supportive setting. For instance, psilocybin appears to make healthy people more altruistic, compassionate, and forgiving, and improve psychological functioning.
What is Psilocybin?
"The science of psilocybin and its use to relieve suffering" on TEDMED
Psilocybin mushrooms are not harmless, but even used recreationally the World Drug Survey reports that they are the safest drug—safer in fact than marijuana and alcohol. Analyses in the US and UK have reached similar conclusions. Despite this, psilocybin remains in the category of the most illegal substances, with the US government claiming that psilocybin has “a high potential for abuse and serve[s] no legitimate medical purpose in the United States.” A claim that has been debunked by research.
Instead, experts say that psilocybin is anti-addictive, and has a low potential for abuse. They argue that the hysteria-driven drug crackdown of the 1960s misrepresented psilocybin's harms and benefits.
Uses of Psilocybin:
Psilocybin can help people with mental illnesses like depression, anxiety and addictions get better.
And research shows psilocybin can help well people improve their lives, such as by helping them to be more creative, more compassionate, and more open. It is also a part of many people's spiritual practice and helps them to deepen their connection to themselves, others, and nature.
"Can Magic Mushrooms Unlock Depression? | Rosalind Watts | TEDxOxford" on TEDx Talks
"'Open Wide and Say Awe' | Katherine Maclean | TEDxOrcasIsland" on TEDx Talks
Psilocybin has been used as an important ceremonial and medicinal tool for hundreds of years. In the 1960s, scientists conducted many studies with psilocybin that showed promising results for psychiatry. However, human research with psilocybin abruptly ended as an unfortunate consequence of the drug hysteria of the time.
After several decades, many well-known institutions such as Yale, NYU, Johns Hopkins, and others have restarted research into psilocybin’s potential medical benefits. This growing body of research shows serious promise in using psilocybin as an effective treatment for anxiety, depression, addiction, cluster headaches, and OCD.
The results are so compelling that the top psilocybin researcher in the world has said he believes psilocybin might play a role in ensuring our species survival.
Studies have shown an association between psilocybin use and reduced opioid abuse, reduced feelings of social exclusion, having positive effects on a person’s attitudes and mood, having mystical-type experiences while using psilocybin that are personally and spiritually significant, increases in the personality trait of Openness, and lower rates of psychological distress (such as suicidality) than the general population.
With research limited by funding and other factors, VPWI hopes that awareness of the range of real and potential benefits of psilocybin spurs support and funding for increased future research.
Benefits of Psilocybin:
"PSYCHEDELICS AND PSYCHOLOGY: Modern Medicine Meets Ancient Medicine | Anthony P. Bossis | TEDxMarin" on TEDx Talks
The Vermont Psilocybin Wellness Initiative (VPWI) is a group of citizens working to:
1) Raise awareness about the safety & benefits of psilocybin
2) Legalize expert-supervised adult psilocybin sessions in VT
3) Decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms in Vermont
4) Expand psilocybin research
VPWI aims to allow adults to use psilocybin mushrooms safely, smartly, and legally. We believe that the best way to make psilocybin mushroom use safer is to sensibly control its use the way we do with other substances like alcohol and prescription medications.
VPWI proposes a model whereby adults could participate in a series of supervised Psilocybin Wellness Sessions after obtaining medical clearance from a doctor. Clinical research shows that this model is safe for healthy adults. VPWI believes that professionally conducted psilocybin use could improve the lives of well people.
Research and funding into psilocybin remains small despite its potential benefits. VPWI argues that given the tremendous potential benefits of psilocybin, more research should be done, including in Vermont.
VPWI also proposes to decriminalize the possession of psilocybin mushrooms in Vermont because—regardless of if you support legalizing psilocybin use or not—putting people in jail for possessing a naturally growing organism does more harm than good. VPWI recognizes that prohibition limits the ability of adults to live free and meaningful lives.
What is VPWI?
Proposed Legal Model:
The Vermont Psilocybin Wellness Initiative (VPWI) proposes to establish a legal framework for the safe, supervised, adult use of psilocybin (mushrooms). Key to this proposal is to establish the proper safeguards for psilocybin use. Adult could participate in a series of Psilocybin Wellness Sessions after obtaining medical clearance from a doctor and meeting with trained, certified, and state-registered Psilocybin Wellness Facilitators in order to prepare for their session(s) at state approved Psilocybin Wellness Centers.
When used in a controlled setting, the harms associated with psilocybin use are considered very low as psilocybin is considered safe for healthy adults. Further, psilocybin is physically safe, it is not known to harm the brain, and it is not believed to cause addiction, compulsive use, or dependence. Under the model proposed by VPWI, safeguards would occur at all levels of the process, and would help to ensure optimal outcomes.
First, The Psilocybin Wellness Initiative envisions the training and certification of professionals (Psilocybin Wellness Facilitators) to provide Psilocybin Wellness Sessions. These professionals would be knowledgable in methods of harm reduction, important procedures and guidelines, session preparation and post-session integration, and the history and science of psilocybin.
Second, an interested person would need to obtain medical clearance from a doctor, meet with facilitators before and after sessions in order to prepare for and integrate their experiences, and develop a rapport between participants and facilitators.
Third, sessions would occur at Psilocybin Wellness Centers that have been registered with the state and provide a contained, safe physical and emotional environment for participants to responsibly engage with psilocybin. Psilocybin Wellness Sessions might take a variety of forms oriented to meet the needs and interests of the persons (e.g. natural settings, indigenous healing ceremonies, indoor settings, or artistically-focused).
Finally, Psilocybin Wellness Facilitators would work in conjunction with therapists, educators, spiritual guides or religious leaders, and family members based on the needs and preferences of participants.