Drug Policy

The Science of Magic Mushrooms: Researchers are Rediscovering Psychedelics


Magic mushrooms—and other psychedelic drugs—aren't just for laser-light shows anymore. They are in fact on the cutting edge of medical research, where scientists are rediscovering how drugs used for centures (if not millennia) can help people live better lives.

Here's a video produced by Reason TV's Paul Feine and Alex Manning that was originally released on November 4, 2013. It documents how researchers such as Roland Griffiths of Johns Hopkins University and Robin Carhart-Harris of Imperial College London are making real progress by using substances that have been demonized and written out of polite (and sometimes simply legal) conversation.

For links and more go here.

The original writeup:

Published on Nov 4, 2013

Magic mushrooms have been used ritually by the native people of Mesoamerica for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. In the 1950s, R. Gordon Wasson and his wife traveled to Oaxaca, Mexico and participated in a mushroom ritual. That experience led to a 1957 Life magazine article titled "Seeking the Magic Mushroom." The following year, the Swiss scientist Albert Hofman, who had been the first to synthesize LSD in 1938, identified psilocybin and psilocin as the active compounds in magic mushrooms. In 1960, Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert founded the Harvard Psilocybin Project to study the effects of psilocybin on humans. Harvard University famously fired Leary and Alpert in 1963.

Serious study of magic mushrooms essentially ended when the compounds psilocybin and psylocin were listed as Schedule I drugs in 1971. However, people around the world have used magic mushrooms with the goals of expanding consciousness and achieving spiritual growth ever since it was popularized by the hippies in the the 1960s.

Despite its illegal status, researchers have once again started studying the effects of psilocybin on humans. The results so far have been intriguing. ReasonTV caught up with Roland Griffiths of Johns Hopkins University and Robin Carhart-Harris of Imperial College London at the Psychedelic Science 2013 conference in Oakland, CA to learn what's happening at the cutting edge of psilocybin research.

Approximately 5 minutes. Produced by Paul Feine and Alex Manning.

Go to https://reason.com/reason.tv for downloadable versions and subscribe to Reason TV's YouTube Channel to receive automatic updates when new material goes live.

Feine and Manning are the makers of the great new feature-length documentary, America's Longest War. It's available on DVD for $11.95. Go here for more details and to purchase.


NEXT: Explosion Hits Kabul Prior to Security Talks

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Maude Lebowski: What do you do for recreation?
    The Dude: Oh, the usual. I bowl. Drive around. The occasional acid flashback.

    1. Caleb, you might be interested in this

      1. Yeah, I saw that. As far as I’m concerned it’s in the past. I am serious though, I would like to purchase her books.

  2. Soon they’ll be hanging around playgrounds, ramming these psychedelic poisons right down poor helpless little babies’ throats!

    1. …Only until they get it put in the water (and boob milk) supply. They’re lazy, after all.

  3. I’ve been coming increasingly enraged at how much research has been prevented by idiotically making drugs Schedule I.

    1. been *becoming

    2. Just imagine if (quite literally) any “intoxicating” refrigerant (r134a, r122, etc) had become illegal because it could be used as a drug before someone figured out how to use it for air conditioning.

      That’s what really gets me about the banhammer: it does not discriminate.

    3. Yes, it’s sad. MDMA was the subject of promising clinical research, until people started using it at raves. It was promptly put on the Schedule I list, which had the effect of stopping all research cold, but no effect on its (now illegal) use at raves or elsewhere.

      1. One thing I just don’t get, even coming from drug warriors, is why, if we have the FDA to lay down very strict regulations on drugs, it’s necessary to have Schedule I, instead of just putting everything on Schedule II. If there’s “no currently accepted medical use”, then the FDA won’t approve it, and its (legal) availability to non-researchers will be basically the same as Schedule I.

        1. They’re scared that research is a back door to drug access, and even worse, if they *do* find a use for the drug, it will be legitimized and make it even easier to get for recreational use. These are very stupid things to worry about – but drug warriors tend to worry about very stupid things.

        2. In addition, a lot of the drugs on Schedule I have definitive medical uses.
          GHB was used for alcohol withdrawal.
          LSD has been tried as a pain reliever and for psychiatric problems.
          Marijuana – no comment necessary.
          MDMA has been shown to relieve PTSD symptoms.
          A whole shit load of opiates which have well established pain relieving properties. This includes heroin, which breaks down into morphine in the blood.
          Ibogaine, which stops opiate withdrawal symptoms.

  4. Speaking of drug-induced behavior, here’s a dog shaking its ass to the tune of Eminem’s “Shake That”


  5. OT: John Zogby and Paul Bedard say “Sure Obama lied, but dammit TEAM Red! Stop making fun of him! Civility!”

    “Mr. Obama took ownership and said he would fix the cancellation problem ? giving the Democrats some cover. As for me, I don’t doubt for a moment that the nation will survive if some Democrats lose in 2014 because they worked to fix the law. Anyone remember when some politicians were courageous?

    “And, to the Republicans, the Constitution mandates Congress to make policy, not gloat and mock. Obamacare is after all a program originated under Republican former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney that is being implemented by an African-American president that they love to hate. I will wait to see if the kinks are indeed fixed before I pass final judgment. Meanwhile it would sure be nice to get some creative ideas for fixing those problems from both sides.”

    Grade ? D+

    Actually, Mr. Bedard, the Constitution has a provision that protects the citizens’ rights to gloat and mock. You may have heard of it. It’s called the First Amendment.

    1. Leave Obama ALONE!!1

    2. Paul Bedard didn’t say that. Bedard was just reporting what Zogby said.

      And what Zogby said is unbelievably stupid.

    3. Meanwhile it would sure be nice to get some creative ideas for fixing those problems from both sides.

      Please. Republicans would obviously prefer repeal, but they have still been willing to try to fix the law where possible. Of course, the extent of the fixes has been hampered by Democratic obstruction, and anyway, you can’t fix stupid.

  6. Dog earns its keep – wears skirt, dances to Latin music


  7. L’amour interdit – dog and kangaroo


  8. Pennsylvania newspaper apologizes for panning Gettysburg Address

    Harrisburg’s Patriot-News apologized for “a judgment so flawed, so tainted by hubris, so lacking in the perspective history would bring, that it cannot remain unaddressed in our archives.”
    It read in part: “Our predecessors, perhaps under the influence of partisanship, or of strong drink, as was common in the profession at the time, called President Lincoln’s words ‘silly remarks,’ deserving ‘a veil of oblivion,’ apparently believing it an indifferent and altogether ordinary message, unremarkable in eloquence and uninspiring in its brevity.”

    “Just think: The speech, the exact words of it, are still looked at, thought about and dissected,” said Michele Hamill, a conservator at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., where one of five copies of Lincoln’s handwritten speech is on display through Nov. 23 in commemoration of its delivery Nov. 19, 1863.

    “He was a very thoughtful writer, and it shows,” Hamill said, referring both to the penmanship and the substance of the speech, which was short but memorable.

    So too was the dissing it received in some media, a scoff that haunted the Harrisburg editors until their editorial, which ran Thursday with a column explaining the decision to declare: “The Patriot-News regrets the error.”

    Someday they’ll print the same thing about Obama!

    1. Wow, wasn’t Lincoln simply *awesome*?

    2. Someday they’ll print the same thing about Obama!

      More likely in the future Reason will apologize for being so mean and racist to America’s first black President whom historians now think of as the Greatest Ever who gave us healthcare, gay marriage and grew government slower than BOOOOOOSH!!

      I mean it’s happening with Clinton already!

  9. on the road

    “Because I was living so cheap and living in a local manner, I didn’t really need a lot of money ? because I was mostly camping and my cheapest hotel was three cents, for instance,” he said.

    1. Kind of guy everyone wants their daughter to marry!

  10. Magic mushrooms (or Funghi Magici) and other hallucinogenics have been used by cultures across the world for millennia, with early evidence including Neolithic cave painting depictions in the Sahara that are thought to date back to 7000 BC http://www.funghimagici.com/20…..agici.html

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.