Arguments Against Magic Mushrooms or Psilocybin?

The scientific community universally agrees that psilocybin and/or magic mushrooms have enormous potential for treating some of the world’s biggest health problems.
Furthermore, scientists agree that psychedelics (like magic mushrooms, psilocybin, LSD, DMT, etc.) are the safest group of drugs known. See Johns Hopkins Scientists Recommend Reclassifying Psilocybin.

Harm potential of drugs as rated by experts pursuant to a multidimensional scale. For more information, see Drugs Without the Hot Air by David Nutt, 2012.

The consensus on the above two points raises an interesting question about current efforts to decriminalize magic mushroom or psilocybin: What are the arguments against legalizing (or decriminalizing) magic mushrooms or psilocybin?

5280 MagazineIf there is much opposition to this initiative, they are keeping tight-lipped.”  Jeff Hunt, Director of the Colorado Christian University’s think tank the Centennial Institute appears to be the most vocal opponent. 

Reasons for Opposing Magic Mushroom Decriminalization in Denver

Jeff Hunt opposes Decriminalize Denver’s Initiative because he believes that it is “a sneaky step toward full legalization and sale of the drug.” He explains, “that’s my concern about psilocybin…. We’re setting up the argument for commercialization.”  (Note that Denver’s Initiative is focused on mushrooms not the molecule psilocybin).

 Jeff Hunt told the Denver Channel that he opposes the initiative because not enough is known about psilocybin’s long-term medical effects and that the measure could damage Denver’s image and tourist industry. “At a certain point, parents are going to say, ‘I don’t want to take my kids to that city,’” Hunt said.

Mr. Hunt’s concerns about the medical effects are probably undermined by the wealth of scientific information and general consensus by experts that psilocybin and mushrooms present high potential for medical benefits with a low potential for harm.

Others have also expressed concerns about commercial influence in psychedelics.  See Chacruna “Capitalism on Psychedelics: The Mainstreaming of an Underground.” COMPASS Pathways has been criticized for introducing business and profits to the field of psychedelics. 

Aside from abstract arguments against capitalism, what some arguments against decriminalizing magic mushrooms?  Are there any good reasons to oppose Denver’s Initiative?  Below are some ideas.  If you have others, please comment below.

Arguments Against Magic Mushrooms?

  1. Magic mushrooms are highly variable in chemical composition and chemical concentration.
  2. Some magic mushrooms produce unique side effects, like muscle paralysis.
  3. Inexperienced mushroom hunters could easily confuse certain kinds of magic mushrooms with deadly lookalikes.
  4. Magic mushrooms are vulnerable to airborne contaminants (mold, bacteria, fungi).

Arguments Against Pure Psilocybin?

  1. Pure psilocybin does not replicate chemical profile of magic mushrooms and/or full spectrum extracts.
  2. Taking pure psilocybin does not produce the same pharmacological effect of magic mushrooms and/or full spectrum extracts.
  3. Taking pure psilocybin does not produce the same clinical effect of magic mushrooms and/or full spectrum extracts.
  4. Many magic mushroom users prefer the effects produced by magic mushrooms and/or full spectrum extracts over pure prodrugs of psilocin, like psilacetin or psilocybin.


Setting aside concerns about corporate influence, the strongest arguments against decriminalizing magic mushrooms arise from considerable uncertainty regarding the chemical composition of magic mushrooms.

Consumers would be better off know what’s in the drugs. Consumers would be better off know what drugs they are taking and how much. If problems arise, it’s better to know what you took and how much you took.  Physicians in the emergency room would benefit from knowing what drugs they are treating.  For purposes of treatment and follow-up, psychiatrists (or psilocybin service providers) would benefit from knowing what drugs they are prescribing/administering.

The strongest argument against pure psilocybin is that this single molecule fails to reproduce the same effects as magic mushrooms.  In other words, pure psilocybin appears to be an inferior drug.

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