Seizures of psychedelic mushrooms rise in the United States as demand increases

Seizures of psychedelic mushrooms rise in the United States as demand increases

Seizures of psychedelic mushrooms across the country by law enforcement officials have increased significantly in recent years, as attitudes about its use have become more lenient, according to a government-funded study published Tuesday.

The researchers found that law enforcement officials confiscated 844 kilograms of mushrooms containing psilocybin in 2022, an increase of 273 percent from 2017. Psilocybin is the psychoactive component of fungi known as magic mushrooms.

Officials at the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which commissioned the study, said the increase in magic mushroom seizures reflects rising drug use, not a sign that drug enforcement officials were pursuing these substances more aggressively than before.

The market for magic mushrooms, which are illegal under federal law, has boomed in recent years as several clinical studies have shown that they may be effective as treatments for depression and other serious conditions. But many medical professionals say they are concerned that the hype surrounding the drug has moved faster than the science.

Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute of Drugs, said preliminary clinical studies have shown that the drug may one day become an important tool for treating psychiatric disorders, including addiction to other drugs. But she said she is concerned that too many people are self-medicating with drugs.

“Psychedelics have been promoted as a potential treatment for many health conditions without sufficient research to support these claims,” Dr. Volkow said. “There are people who desperately need mental health care, and there are companies who are very keen to make money by marketing substances as treatments or cures.”

In 2018, the Food and Drug Administration granted psilocybin a special designation to accelerate research into its effectiveness as a treatment for depression, which could lead to approval for clinical use.

Promising clinical studies have spurred a movement to legalize the drug in some states and cities. In 2020, Oregon voters approved a measure legalizing the therapeutic use of psychedelic mushrooms, and Colorado voters supported a similar measure two years later. Many cities have assigned the drug a low priority in law enforcement, often citing its therapeutic potential.

Experts say the changing legal landscape, coupled with media coverage of clinical studies, has led to increased demand for psychedelic treatment.

Joseph J. said: “All the positive coverage of drugs may be introducing the idea of ​​using them to a new population that had never thought about using them before,” said Palamar, a professor of public health at New York University and the study’s lead researcher. High seizures from magic mushrooms.

Patients with serious mental health conditions are increasingly seeking guidance from doctors about the value of medications like magic mushrooms, said Dr. Joshua S. Siegel, a psychiatrist at Washington University in St. Louis.

While the drug is safer than other drugs in terms of its addictive and potentially fatal potential, it can also be destabilizing, especially for people with serious mental health conditions, Dr. Siegel said.

“People can partially or completely lose touch with reality and behave in irrational and potentially dangerous ways,” he added.

As the country grapples with an epidemic of opioid overdoses, experts say the drug has become a relatively low priority for federal law enforcement officials. The Biden administration’s most recent report on its counter-narcotics strategy, issued in 2022, includes only one reference to the drug. There are dozens of references to opioids.

Companies that sell the drug cater to people suffering from depression and anxiety, and sell the products through websites and encrypted messaging platforms. Many of them advertise on social media, promoting products such as microdoses of magic mushrooms in pill form as an alternative to antidepressants.

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