Category: Cannabis: Renegade Healer Written by Jessica Smith
Cannabis is a plant whose extracts have been used for thousands of years to treat a variety of medical conditions. Compounds from the plant (also known as cannabinoids) are mainly prescribed for the treatment of disorders whose clinical presentations include pain, anxiety, and inflammation. While cannabis contains more than 130 identified cannabinoids, there are only two widely-studied and most-prescribed ones. These include cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Cannabidiol is mostly prescribed for therapeutic purposes, while tetrahydrocannabinol is famous for its mind-altering effects.
From time immemorial, the therapeutic benefits of cannabis were only based on anecdotal reports. As such, they were easy to dismiss. It was not until the mid-20th century that major research organizations around the world took a keen interest in cannabis. That was after it emerged that the herb could help to manage some of the conditions that researchers were struggling to find cures for, such as seizures. Cannabis was also receiving a widespread endorsement from notable celebrities around the world.
Since the first official evidence on the therapeutic properties of cannabis were documented, the herb has gained considerable popularity all over the world. Experts already project that the cannabis industry will reach an all-time high in 2020.
What Are Magic Mushrooms?
Magic mushrooms, officially known as psilocybin mushrooms or informally as shrooms, is a collective term used to refer to fungi species that contain psilocybin. Psilocybin is a naturally-occurring compound that delivers psychedelic effects when ingested.
Research estimates that there are over 180 different mushroom species that contain psilocybin or derivatives of the compound. The hallucinogenic abilities of psilocybin mushrooms are the main reason behind the rising popularity of these mushrooms.
The mushrooms first became popular as recreational drugs around the 1950s. But like cannabis, the popularity of psilocybin mushrooms goes way back. It’s believed that these mushrooms were used in religious and spiritual rituals, particularly in South and Central America.
Not all psilocybin mushrooms deliver the same psychedelic effects. That depends on a couple of factors, most notably the species, how fresh the mushroom is, the region the mushroom grows in, and the season.
However, all factors held constant; psilocybin mushrooms cause mild hallucinations and visual distortions. Users can also experience distorted perceptions of colors, lights, and sounds. Euphoria, similar to that experienced after consuming THC, is also observed. The euphoria is usually accompanied by episodes of uncontrollable giggling and busts of energy.
Magic mushrooms might also cause anxiety, nausea, and paranoia, especially among first-time users.
Comparing the Growth of Psilocybin and CBD Industries
To establish whether magic mushrooms will reach the heights of the cannabis industry in 2020, we will examine how the substances fare across various parameters.
Cannabis enjoys a higher legal backing compared to psilocybin mushrooms. In the US, the signing into law of the 2018 Farm Bill by President Donald Trump made it legal to cultivate, transport, sale, and use hemp-derived products.
The decriminalization of hemp-based products came as a major boost to the cannabis trade, considering the US is a major contributor to the global cannabis industry. It essentially made hemp-based products legal in all the 50 states in the US, provided they don’t contain more than 0.3% THC concentration.
On their part, psilocybin mushrooms don’t enjoy so much legal backing. In the US, it’s illegal to possess any psilocybin-containing mushrooms. States like Idaho, California, and Georgia have even criminalized the possession of spores that don’t contain the psychedelic elements in psilocybin mushrooms. And while you can sell these mushroom spores in other states, it’s still illegal to sell them with the intention of producing hallucinogenic mushrooms.
However, it’s worth mentioning that both cannabis and psilocybin mushrooms are still classified as Schedule 1 Drugs and are illegal at the federal level. It’s also worth mentioning that it’s not all doom and gloom for psilocybin mushrooms. On May 7, 2019, the city of Denver, Colorado, voted to decriminalize hallucinogenic mushrooms.
Cannabis and magic mushrooms enjoy a lot of research backing, with most of the studies conducted so far pointing to the immense therapeutic benefits of both plants. In fact, the findings have been so positive that authorities like the DEA and FDA have occasionally shown a tendency to relax their stringent regulatory policies on the two substances.
In 2018, the FDA announced the approval of a cannabis-derived drug known as Epidiolex for the treatment of seizures associated with some rare conditions. The conditions include Dravet Syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome. Psychedelic mushrooms also enjoy their fair share of recognition. In 2019, the FDA approved a fast-acting antidepressant nasal spray known as Spravato. Spravato is a brand name for Esketamine, which is a chemical found in psilocybin mushrooms and is associated with psychedelic effects.
All these separate incidences came as major breakthroughs in the medical research sector.
3. Perception and Popularity
Now, this is where the rubber meets the road. Cannabis enjoys way higher popularity than psilocybin mushrooms. It’s almost impossible to find a teenager who hasn’t heard of marijuana. And it’s this sheer popularity that has been the fuel that drives the industry from time immemorial.
Presently, psilocybin mushrooms are generally viewed in a negative light. To most people, the plants don’t appear to deliver any therapeutic effects apart from inducing hallucinations.
On the other hand, the popularity of cannabis as a therapeutic herb seems to be rising fast and furious, thanks to the growing list of celebrity endorsements. Snoop Dogg and Morgan Freeman are some of the notable outspoken advocates of cannabis.
Unlike cannabis, there isn’t a clear distinction between the use of psilocybin mushrooms for medicinal and recreational use. And that complicates the issue with these mushrooms even further. Even though researchers are petitioning to have the psychedelic mushrooms reclassified for medicinal use, lots of clinical trials and influencer endorsements are still required to change perceptions people have on these shrooms.
What’s The Verdict?
According to the Hemp Business Journal, the cannabis market will grow to $2.1 billion worth of consumer sales in 2020. This will be an all-time high for an industry that has enjoyed a consistent growth trajectory. If recent developments are anything to go by, the magic mushroom market is also set to grow.
However, for the magic mushrooms market to reach the highs of cannabis in 2020, researchers will have to work overtime to document more findings on the fungi’s therapeutic benefits. Besides, it will take a lot of lobbying to change perceptions, which pretty much defines sales.
Jessica Smith BIO:
Jessica is a cannabis and health industry consultant who frequently writes about the latest trends in the industry. She has been writing for a long time now. Through her writing, she hopes to influence as many people as possible to help maintain better health and lifestyle.
This article was submitted exclusively to CrystalWind.ca by Jessica Smith.
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