Updated: Jan 24, 2020
Psilocybin is currently a schedule I drug under Tennessee's List of Controlled Substances. This means that people who are caught with psilocybin, or mushrooms that contain it, can be thrown in prison, separated from their families, incur civil fines and be charged with a felony that can haunt them the rest of their lives. This is unacceptable for many reasons. We should all work for common sense psilocybin laws.
Tennessee's Legislature's Own Definition Does not Apply to Psilocybin
The General Assembly, also known as the Tennessee Legislature, says a scheduled I drug has two distinguishing characteristics: high potential for abuse and no accepted medical treatments. Neither of these criteria are applicable to psilocybin. Research has demonstrated that psilocybin is
Low Abuse Potential and Anti-Addiction Properties
Psilocybin has a very low potential for abuse. In fact, psilocybin might be considered anti-addictive. Take for instance a recent open-label pilot study found that two to three moderate to high doses of psilocybin coupled with a cognitive behavioral therapy resulted in substantially higher 6-month smoking abstinence rates than are typically observed with other medications or therapy alone.
Nicotine addiction, according to some estimates, can cost $193 billion a year in healthcare expenses and lost productivity. Psilocybin could help 40 million people across America overcome the clutches of tobacco addiction but the Tennessee Legislature is preventing Tennesseans from using psilocybin through threat of imprisonment and fines.
Accepted Medical Uses and Future Potential
Researchers are continuously showing psilocybin's role in treating a variety of mental health diseases ranging from depression to addiction.
Even more than this, John's Hopkins university launched a Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research Center to focus on how psychedelics, including psilocybin, can affect behavior, mood, cognition, brain function and biological markers of health.
According to John's Hopkin's website:
Our research has demonstrated therapeutic effects in people who suffer a range of challenging conditions including addiction (smoking, alcohol, other drugs of abuse), existential distress caused by life-threatening disease, and treatment-resistant depression.
Their upcoming research will go beyond depression and smoking addiction as well:
Upcoming studies will determine the effectiveness of psilocybin as a new therapy for opioid addiction, Alzheimer's disease, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome (formerly known as chronic Lyme disease), anorexia nervosa and alcohol use in people with major depression.
FDA Calls Psilocybin "Breakthrough Therapy"
Last November the U.S. Food and Drug Administration designated psilocybin therapy for Major Depressive Disorder and Treatment-Resistant Therapy as a way to accelerate the slow process of drug development and review. It was the only drug granted this designation in 2019.
FDA describes Breakthrough Therapy as follows:
Breakthrough Therapy designation is a process designed to expedite the development and review of drugs that are intended to treat a serious condition and preliminary clinical evidence indicates that the drug may demonstrate substantial improvement over available therapy on a clinically significant endpoint(s).
For this designation to be granted, a drug must demonstrate the drug as an improved safety profile compared to available therapy. This means that psilocybin is more safe than any other medication available for depression.
Psilocybin is not addictive nor does it have a high-potential for abuse. Psilocybin also has accepted medical uses. We should all advocate for more common sense psilocybin legislation in Tennessee. We all have experienced or know someone who could benefit from psilocybin but can't because of the law.
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