Should 'Magic Mushrooms' Be Legalised?
How Drug Laws Make the World More Dangerous
Magic Mushrooms aren't always the easiest drug in the world to get hold of.
As a seasonal drug, Magic Mushrooms can be somewhat elusive for those who've never been hunting for them before. You only get a few chances in a given year to find them, and if you don't know somebody who can take you to a good spot there's a good chance you'll never actually find any.
Another problem with Magic Mushrooms is their illegality. Harvesting them can have major legal consequences, as they are frequently treated as one of the most strictly controlled drugs by most governments. In the United Kingdom, they are Class A and are Schedule I in the US.
This isn't because Magic Mushrooms are dangerous. By themselves, they're one of the safest drugs in the world. The danger comes from the slim but realistic chance that somebody might eat a highly poisonous mushroom on the off-chance that it would get them high.
Of course, there are many repeated stories of somebody getting high on Magic Mushrooms and promptly deciding to throw themselves from the top floor of a tall building. In reality, these types of stories are urban legends.
This isn't to say that nobody has ever had a bad trip and that people haven't died whilst being under the influence of Magic Mushrooms.
But let's look at alcohol for a moment. The consumption of alcohol is largely socially acceptable, legal for most adults, and the few laws prohibiting alcohol consumption in the West are largely concerned with promoting responsible use, such as not driving whilst intoxicated.
Very few people would look at this situation and describe it as tantamount to destroying society or being harmful.
And yet that is exactly what happens with Magic Mushrooms and many other recreational drugs.
I believe that there should be a concerted effort to change the attitudes of governments, law enforcement, and society in general regarding the use of Magic Mushrooms, but more specifically the psychoactive compounds contained within.
Cannabis is one such drug that has been the focus of similar campaigns across the world and is slowly but surely making strong.
For a long time, legalisation campaigns relied on the idea of medicinal use.
The truth is that most people who support legalisation of any drug have no real interest in the medical benefits. We want to be able to treat our drug or drugs of choice in the same way that most people treat alcohol — as a social activity, a bit of fun, and something to be treated with responsibility.
However, the attitudes towards drug use by those who control legislation are extremely destructive. When alcohol was criminalised in 20th century America, the damage caused by organised crime was immense. How many lives were destroyed because of the fight between gangs and the law?
Decriminalising drugs takes the power of the truly dangerous criminals away. Every drug user will have a story about a dealer that freaked them out to the point where they were genuinely afraid to go to that person again.
And this is talking about the street-level dealer. International drug smugglers destroy lives and are frequently involved in many other unsavoury criminal acts. After all, if you've got the ability to smuggle, you might as well take anything you can for a good profit. Drugs, weapons, women, children.
People like this make the world a worse place for everyone. By providing opportunities for a legitimate recreational drug industry to emerge, this could deal a massive blow to the finances of organised crime, provide new jobs for the skilled and unskilled at a global and local level, and take a massive strain off of the police and prison system.
I'm not saying that legalising a drug makes it perfectly safe.
Alcohol has a pretty high track record of killing people, sometimes directly.
What's missing in many of these circumstances is a proper understanding of how drugs, including alcohol, can be dangerous if used without care. Occasionally, it will instead be willful self-destruction.
You can't always protect people from themselves.
However, the educational approaches regarding drug use around the world tend to go a little something like this:
"Don't do drugs. They will ruin your life. The end."
And in a sense, the message they're teaching is true — but only because the drugs they are talking about are illegal. They ruin lives because of the impact a criminal record has.
I know that highly addictive drugs can cause a lot of harm all on their own. Anything addictive can.
And yet in many circumstances, we are perfectly happy to let people become deeply addicted to many harmful things.
Gambling. Smoking. Tanning.
Anything with the potential to give a dopamine hit, whether naturally produced or chemically ingested can become addictive.
This is why education, good education, is so important. Blocking out your problems with substance abuse is not the same thing as recreational drug use. Knowing your own limits, taking reasonable precautions such as not driving, staying sober enough to not lose consciousness. These are all attitudes that help make alcohol a relatively safe and fun substance, and they could just as easily be applied to Magic Mushrooms, cannabis, and many other recreational drugs.
I highlight Magic Mushrooms over the others for the reason that they are treated with such a heavy hand by the law, and yet there is so little reason for this. Cannabis seems to be on the path for widespread decriminalisation, and there is no reason Magic Mushrooms shouldn't be next on the agenda. Why in the world are governments so scared of people getting a bit high?