Lawmakers consider legalizing ‘magic mushrooms’ in treatment settings

Updated: Feb. 19, 2021 at 5:34 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - ‘Magic mushrooms’ have a reputation as an illegal party drug.

And that’s for good reason.

“Psilocybin, also known as magic mushrooms, can cause terrifying hallucinations and ... feelings of euphoria and sensory distortion,” said Lt. Henry Lee, of HPD’s Narcotics Vice Division.

“This would effectively legalize driving under the influence of magic mushrooms,” he added.

But there’s a caveat: Psilocybin can also prove to offer profound healing effects for some patients.

Those patients have been forced to go underground to find it.

The situation has prompted lawmakers to consider a measure that would remove psilocybin from the list of Schedule 1 substances, which includes heroin, LSD and ecstasy.

It would also require the state Department of Health to establish treatment centers.

Ashley Lukens, founder of The Clarity Project and a brain cancer patient, testified in support of the measure. “I come to you today as someone living with brain cancer who’s had the opportunity to access the transformative healing power of psilocybin in my own life,” she said.

Dr. Tom Cook, a Honolulu psychiatrist, is also supportive of the measure.

“As a doctor, I’m not allowed to prescribe a specific cannabis dose, I just give them permission. Whereas, the psilocybin can be given while in office,” Cook said.

He uses ketamine injections, which he says have affects similar to psilocybin, for patients like Kevin Martin with severe depression.

Martin battled PTSD after road side bomb attacks in Afghanistan.

Last February, HNN witnessed his treatment with ketamine.

Today, Martin says he needs fewer treatments and both support the psilocybin measure.

“My life is the best it’s ever been. In some ways it’s so ironic. I feel like it’s inversed the rest of society,” said Martin referring to the growing mental crisis due to the pandemic.

Law enforcement and the state Transportation and Health departments are against the measure and one group says while psychedelic mushrooms show promise in brain research, Hawaii isn’t ready to make it legal yet.

“It’s opening the door to brain research at a new level that we never looked at before and we are hopeful for that,” said Alan Johnson, of Hawaii Substance Abuse Coalition.

“We are not ready. We don’t have all the safety issues figured out,” he added.

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