Will Magic Mushrooms Be the Next Drug to Become Legal in California and Oregon?

Grower Anthony Nguyen sells marijuana at the medical marijuana farmers market at the California Heritage Market in Los Angeles, California July 11, 2014. Reuters

Psychedelic psilocybin mushrooms should be the next drug to become legal, according to a California mayoral candidate. Kevin Saunders, who wants to run the city of Marina near San Francisco, said Californians should be able to trip out on magic mushrooms because they are stressed out in President Donald Trump's America.

"I think we have learned a lot from marijuana and we are ready as a society," he told the Guardian in an article published Sunday.

California already has medical marijuana and will become the next state to embrace recreational marijuana in 2018, but Saunders said it shouldn't stop there. He is looking to collect 365,880 voter signatures by April to get his California Psilocybin Legalization Initiative on the statewide ballot. Under the measure, possessing, growing, selling or transporting psychedelic psilocybin mushrooms would be legal for adults over the age of 21. His efforts have made national headlines in recent months, but haven't yet resulted in the required signatures.

"The world is really hurting and everybody is at a loss about what's going on right now with Trump, Brexit, the refugee crisis and everything else. I'm at a loss at what to do politically, but the only thing I feel like we could do is get psilocybin into more people's hands," Saunders said. "It could allow people to figure out what to do and could revolutionize the way we treat those with depression, addiction and cluster headaches."

A similar 2020 ballot measure in Oregon could also make magic mushrooms legal there. "Legalization of psilocybin is significant for more than just how effective and life changing psilocybin services are to individuals who engage in it," according to Tom Eckert, co-founder of Oregon Psilocybin Society. "It's also what it represents on the social level; the idea that we could accept this says something about how we as a culture are beginning to value working inwardly."

Cannabis storage boxes are displayed at a coffee and smart shop in Rotterdam November 28, 2008. Reuters

As a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act, magic mushrooms have a high potential for abuse, according to the federal government, which compares the drug heroin and LSD. "Use of psilocybin is associated with negative physical and psychological consequences. The physical effects, which appear within 20 minutes of ingestion and last approximately 6 hours, include nausea, vomiting, muscle weakness, drowsiness, and lack of coordination," the Justice Department warns. "The psychological consequences of psilocybin use include hallucinations and an inability to discern fantasy from reality. Panic reactions and psychosis also may occur, particularly if a user ingests a large dose."

Saunders, however, cited magic mushrooms for helping him recover from a "debilitating five-year heroin addiction" in 2003. He was 32 years old at the time. "I got to the root of why I made a conscious decision to become a heroin addict; I've been clean almost 15 years," he told the Guardian.