America’s failing drug policies are once again at a crossroads as more citizens are starting to come to the realization that their government has been lying to them about the effects and risks of many ‘illicit’ substances.

After decades of scare tactics and ‘reefer madness’ propaganda, states are now lining up in droves to legalize cannabis. As Americans continue to learn more about the plant once dubbed a public menace, numerous scientific studies have been published refuting the decades-old claims of authoritarian drug warriors. Now America’s relationship with another drug is being thrust into the spotlight and has many citizens questioning the government’s claims that it is harmful.

‘Magic Mushrooms’: A Brief History

Historians believe that psilocybin mushrooms (or ‘shrooms’) have been used by numerous cultures throughout human existence dating as far back as 9,000 BC, however, it wasn’t until the 20th century that mushrooms became popular in the US. In the 1960’s hallucinogenic substances became popular among the ‘hippie’ movement and began garnering support from scholars, such as renowned Harvard Psychologist Timothy Leary. In response, the government began cracking down on the use of hallucinogens and in 1978 declared psilocybin a schedule I substance under the Psychotropic Substances Act.

Thankfully science is once again disproving many of the claims used by the government to justify banning a substance that has been widely used for thousands of years, and we’re finally beginning to learn more about the extent of its effects.

Here are 14 reasons why it’s time to legalize psilocybin mushrooms:

1. Mushrooms are one of the safest recreational drugs, even the media admits it

Despite attempts to paint psilocybin as a dangerous drug, a Global Drug Survey of over 120,000 participants has found that only .2% of respondents who took psilocybin reported that they sought emergency medical treatment. In fact, deaths from psilocybin overdose are so rare that a lethal dose is still difficult to calculate.

2. Psilocybin can help cure depression

Clinical studies have found that psilocybin can promote enduring changes in personality, attitudes, and optimism, as well as improvements in mental health.”  Additionally, the FDA has approved a project to develop treatments for depression using Psilocybin.

3. Researchers are using psilocybin to treat PTSD — and it’s working

Psilocybin has been shown in lab tests to reduce fear in traumatized mice, increase the growth, and repair of brain cells in the hippocampus. In a double-blind study, researchers with Johns Hopkins University also found that over 50% of participants rated their experience with psilocybin as one of the most meaningful experiences of their life.

4. Mushrooms vs. opiates.. The choice is clear

While deaths from ‘magic mushrooms’ are extremely rare, deaths from opiate overdoses are increasing at an astonishing rate, killing 59,000 people in the US in 2016 alone. To add insult to injury, the government’s own data proves that mushrooms can stifle opiate addiction, reducing the risk of opiate dependence by 27% and abuse by 40%.

5. Shroom tea > Booze

It is no secret that alcohol is a leading killer in the United States. What you may not know is that a 2015 proof-of-concept study found that alcohol abstinence rates among participants increased after being given psilocybin. The study also found that participants were more likely to stay sober as they had maintained their abstinence during follow-ups to 36 weeks.

6. Psilocybin reduces behavioral traits associated with criminal behavior

According to a study published by the University of Alabama at Birmingham, “Classic psychedelics such as psilocybin (often called magic mushrooms), LSD, and mescaline (found in peyote) are associated with a decreased likelihood of antisocial criminal behavior.” The findings of the study suggest that “treatments making use of classic psychedelics like psilocybin could well hold promise in reducing criminal behavior.”

7. Bye, Bye Ego!

A 2011 study found that a psilocybin ‘trip’ can ‘dissolve’ a person’s ego and alter their personality for over a year. The study concluded that people became increasingly open to new experiences for up to 14 months which positively affected their creativity and increased their curiosity.

8. So long cigarettes!

In addition to treating drug and alcohol addiction psilocybin is also being studied for its ability to help people quit smoking. A 15-week study conducted in 2014 found that 80% of participants had continued smoking cessation after one week. The study also found that smoking cessation rates substantially exceeded rates commonly reported for other behavioral and/or pharmacological therapies.

9. Nervous about you cancer diagnosis? Ask you doctor about the benefits of mushrooms.

While early research in the 1960’s first suggested a therapeutic use of mushrooms to help cancer patients deal with the existential dread that accompanies a cancer diagnosis, new research is beginning to help us understand how psilocybin helps alleviate the psychiatric distress that is common among cancer patients.

10. Stop obsessing and start relaxing

A double-blind 2006 study concluded that psilocybin was safely used in subjects with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and was associated with acute reductions in core OCD symptoms in several subjects.

11. What’s in your medicine cabinet?

By 2025 the global headache medicine market is expected to top $7.8 Billion, so it should come as no surprise that pharmaceutical companies want to keep you in the dark about the ability of psilocybin to treat headaches. Popular over the counter pain relievers kill over 16,000 every year, but those days may soon be over thanks to a 2018 study revealing the power of psilocybin as an anti-inflammatory agent.

12. Fight the power!

An article published the Psychedelic Research Group at Imperial College London found that psychedelic experiences make people more resistant to authoritarians. Ironically this may be the reason psilocybin was criminalized in the first place.

13. Psilocybin isn’t just for humans, bees love it too!

In 2017 several species of bees were placed on the endangered species list, but the news isn’t all doom and gloom. According to a research article entitled “Extracts of Polypore Mushroom Mycelia Reduces Viruses in Honey Bees.” Psilocybin mushrooms have a powerful effect on bees and have the ability to help them fight the viruses that have decimated colonies.

14. Drugs have already won the war on drugs

America’s ‘war on drugs’ has been raging for decades, while drug addiction rates have gone nearly unchanged despite trillions being spent and millions of drug arrests every single year. If this policy is examined with any sense of objectivity it is obvious that our drug policies have failed. The time has come for a smarter approach. In 2001, Portugal became the first country in the world to end their war on drugs and over a decade later drug use in the country has plummeted. Earlier this year, incoming Mexican president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador announced a plan to follow Portugal’s lead by legalizing all drugs in an effort to fight drug cartels that have ravaged the country.

Perhaps it’s time America took a lesson from our neighbors to the south.