Psychedelics Should Be Legal (And Regulated)

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While “tripping,” Woodstock, Peace, Love, and Rock N’ Roll are often associated with psychedelic use, there is so much more to these healing plants than recent history details.

When Albert Hofmann first synthesized LSD in 1938, the realization of such a discovery was unprecedented. The scientific community was buzzing with questions and sought to answer them with experimentation and preliminary research. Exploration of LSD, psilocybin and other psychedelics quickly caught the attention of many young adults, as well.

The 1950s and 60s were largely consumed with psychedelic use in the public eye. Behind the scenes, research was booming, and scientists worked hard to understand these amazing healing substances.

Unfortunately, government interventions in the 1970s and ’80s led to classifying psychedelics as Schedule 1 substances under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) — criminalizing LSD, psilocybin, marijuana, and others and making the possession of them illegal. This paused the progress of scientific research even though there was evidence that medical risks were very low, and there was obvious potential for therapeutic use.


A Psychedelic Revival

Scientists and advocates of psychedelics have been working hard to provide education around the efficacy and benefits of these wonderful plants and fungi. Every effort has been made to perform studies to offer even more in-depth information. Thanks to those dedicated to the cause, breakthroughs have been made, and restrictions are gradually being lifted.

In 2017, the FDA designated MDMA a breakthrough therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder, and in 2018 the agency identified psilocybin as a breakthrough for treatment-resistant depression. These developments indicate that psychedelics may represent substantial improvements over existing treatments for mental illness.”¹

While there are still laws prohibiting the use of psychedelics outside of strict research-based environments, US cities across the country are making moves to decriminalize these substances. First among them is Denver, Colorado, which decriminalized psilocybin in 2019 with Ordinance 301. Since then, six other US cities have decriminalized psilocybin.

Oregon is the first state to legalize the use of psilocybin under strictly regulated circumstances. Ballot Measure 109 (passed November 2020) gives the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) “to license and regulate the manufacturing, transportation, delivery, sale, and purchase of psilocybin products and the provision of psilocybin services.”


Medicinal Use Of Psychedelics

For centuries, psychedelics have been used in traditional medicines worldwide, aiding in physical, mental, and emotional issues. While current studies mainly focus on psilocybin mushrooms and MDMA for mental health purposes, other psychedelics benefit mental health and overall well-being.

A common misconception is that all psychedelics behave the same way, produce the same results, and are sourced from similar places. This isn’t the case. While some psychedelics are plant-based and indigenous to North America, others are synthetically created.


Plant-derived substances

Psilocybin: Also known as entheogens, mushrooms containing the psychoactive compound psilocybin are found worldwide and are recorded in the histories of many cultures for medicinal, religious, and recreational purposes. “Albert Hofmann first isolated psilocybin in 1957 from the Central American mushroom Psilocybe Mexicana.” Dozens of scientific studies have provided strong evidence that psilocybin can significantly decrease major depression and anxiety when facilitated in a therapeutic setting.

Peyote (and mescaline):Mescaline has been used by Native Americans for thousands of years in religious ceremonies and the treatment of various physical ailments.” In one preliminary study, mescaline use significantly reduced depression, anxiety, PTSD, and alcohol and drug use disorders in participating survey respondents. It is also important to note that “When peyote is used in religious ceremonies, it is exempt from its classification as a Schedule I controlled drug under the 1994 American Indian Religious Freedom Act (AIRFA).

Ayahuasca: This hallucinogenic brew of multiple ingredients is ingested as a concentrated liquid as a shaman watches over the participant. This psychedelic is still primarily used for religious and spiritual journeys to help expand the mind and heal from past trauma.

Ibogaine: A compound found in shrubs native to Central Africa, ibogaine is legal in New Zealand. Multiple studies have provided insight into using this psychedelic treatment to reduce opioid withdrawal symptoms. There is evidence that ibogaine also activates a serotonin receptor that helps improve mood and feelings of joy.


Synthetic substances

MDMA: Created in 1912, MDMA has been shown to help with PTSD when facilitated in a therapeutic setting and paired with talk therapy. Also known as Ecstasy or Molly, this psychedelic was used when it was still legal in the United States by psychotherapists. It laid the foundation for resurfacing it as an alternative medicine.

Ketamine: First developed as an anesthetic developed in the 1960s, ketamine has been implemented in psychotherapy sessions for patients with severe depression. Studies have shown that it has efficacy as an antidepressant, and further studies are currently being conducted to provide more information.

LSD: Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann first synthesized LSD in an attempt to discover a new way to reduce postpartum hemorrhage. In recent years, studies have been conducted for use in psychiatry, and the evidence points to the use of LSD as a solid treatment to overcome alcoholism.


The Importance Of Set And Setting

The mind-altering effects of psychedelics can be jarring. When the current reality is not pleasant, it makes sense that an altered state of that same negative filter might not be the desired outcome.

It makes sense then that emphasizing how a person enters into their journey and how comfortable they are in their environment is necessary. This concept is fundamental to psychedelic research and has produced the most favorable outcomes in studies.

The “set” refers to factors related to the person — personality, mood, expectation, and intention — that influence the experience. The “setting” is the physical, social, and cultural environment in which the experience occurs.²

Therapists assisting a psychedelic experience can help manage feelings, guide the experience, and monitor vital signs such as heart rate. It is common for a guide to be part of the psychedelic experience in indigenous cultures. Their (centuries-old) practices can teach us something: a trusted guide or therapist to help you through your experience is a good idea.


Psychedelics: Decriminalization And Legalization With Regulation

While it might sound like the road has been paved for the legalization of psychedelics, many obstacles stand in the way of forward motion toward this outcome.

Psilocybin is currently categorized as a Schedule 1 substance, the most controlled and criminalized. The DEA says that “Substances in this schedule have no currently accepted medical use in the United States, a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision, and a high potential for abuse.”³

It is curious, then, that over 2000 papers had been published describing positive results for over 40,000 patients by 1965. The participants (who took psychedelics) experienced few side effects, and many successfully demonstrated positive outcomes.

While misuse of and addiction to psychedelics is a concern, the community of scientists and activists dedicated to legalizing psychedelics also focuses on the education around responsible use. Companies like Fluence are making it possible for clinicians, psychotherapists, and wellness practitioners to have access to “professional education in psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy and integration.”

At Trufa, we are hard at work creating an app to assist a better set and setting. Furthermore, we aim to provide education and maintain a better standard of experience with psychedelic use.

For more information about the efforts to decriminalize, legalize, and regulate safe use of psychedelics, click here to check out the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) website.

A “Real World Psilocybin Mushroom Study” is currently conducted with Unlimited Sciences and John Hopkins University School of Medicine. Click here to learn more. They clarify that “the researchers conducting this study do not advocate or promote psilocybin or other drug use. The aim of this research is to sample people whose intent to take psilocybin is already established.”
Note: Trufa is not affiliated with, nor takes responsibility for participation in, this study in any way. This is not a suggestion to participate, merely a connection that is available to interested responsible adults (18 years and older).



2. Hartogsohn I (2015) The psycho-social construction of LSD: How set and setting shaped the American psychedelic experience 1950–1970. PhD Dissertation, Bar Ilan University, Israel.


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