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Arizona Bill Would Provide Grants for Magic Mushroom Trials

Legislation proposed in Arizona would provide millions of dollars in grant funding to expand research into psilocybin––the primary psychoactive component in magic mushrooms––as a potential treatment for certain mental health conditions.

The bill, introduced by a Republican lawmaker and backed by Democrats, “would put $30 million in grants over three years toward clinical trials using whole-mushroom psilocybin to treat mental health conditions like depression and PTSD,” the Arizona Mirror reports. 

The outlet reports that one of the bill’s biggest backers is Dr. Sue Sisely, an internal medicine physician who believes that psilocybin treatment could be a boon for ailing military veterans. 

“It’s curbed their suicidality, it’s put their PTSD into remission, it’s even mitigated their pain syndromes,” Sisely said of patients she has seen benefit from psilocybin, as quoted by the Arizona Mirror. “It’s shown evidence of promoting neurogenesis (the growth and development of nerve tissue). There’s all kinds of great things that are being uncovered, but they’re not in controlled trials—they’re anecdotes from veterans and other trauma sufferers.” 

According to Mirror, “so far the only controlled trials on psilocybin to treat medical conditions have used a synthetic, one-molecule version of the substance, which is vastly different from a whole mushroom, which contains hundreds of compounds.”

“These agricultural products are very complex, and that is what people are reporting benefit from,” Sisley told the Arizona Mirror. “Nobody in the world has access to synthetic psilocybin unless you’re in one of these big pharma trials.” 

As policymakers, researchers, and others have come to accept psilocybin as an effective treatment of a wide range of disorders, the status of psilocybin as a mainstream option has increased over the past decade. 

As states such as Arizona look at ways to expand their use, it has become the next frontier in drug legalization advocacy. 

Utah advocates have begun a campaign in support of legalizing psilocybin as a medical and educational drug.

“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. This is by far more effective than any synthetic drugs. Psilocybin is also effective in relieving anxiety and fear in terminally ill patients. 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,” Utah Mushroom Therapy, the group behind the campaign, says in a statement.

The group is looking to gin up public support for the treatment after the state’s Republican governor, Spencer Cox, signed a bill last year establishing a task force that will study psilocybin as a mental health treatment.

Utah Mushroom Therapy says that, in the wake of the task force, “legalizing and decriminalizing Psilocybin in Utah is now very likely but still needs public support.”

“The use of mushrooms has been documented in 15 indigenous groups in America and various religious communities in Utah. This petition is to support groups that wish to legally and honestly use psilocybin. Use of psilocybin is not incompatible with any other Utah culture and it is protected by both the Religious Freedom Restoration Act as well the first amendment. This petition is to advocate Utah law to protect the religious rights of Utahns,” the group says. 

“Psilocybin is a natural, non-toxic substance. It is currently classified as a Schedule I drug. It has been shown to have profound medicinal properties. Scientists believe that serotonergic hallucinogens aid cognitive processes, and therefore should not be criminalized. 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,” it continues.