The American state of Oregon is a step closer to becoming the first state to legalise psychedelic mushrooms.
In November, Oregon's secretary of state approved language for a ballot initiative that would make "magic" mushrooms legal. To make it on the ballot for the 2020 general election, the initiative will need 117,578 signatures, CNN reported.
A successful ballot initiative in Oregon would decriminalise hallucinogenic mushrooms and let them be manufactured under a license. The possession of psychedelic mushrooms, which contain the active compound psilocybin, is a felony nationwide.
"The intent of the 2020 Psilocybin Service Initiative of Oregon is to advance a breakthrough therapeutic model currently being perfected in research settings at top universities around the world," Tom and Sheri Eckert, who are leading the petition, wrote on the campaign's website.
Many Americans have shifted their opinions on marijuana and other illegal drugs in recent years, and scientists are also reassessing the effects of psychedelics.
A growing number of recent studies have shown that magic mushrooms could be beneficial to certain people. Scientists say psilocybin could help reduce anxiety in people with cancer and could be used as a treatment for anxiety, depression, and alcoholism.
Earlier this year, researchers at Johns Hopkins University said psilocybin should not be classified as a Schedule I drug, a category for substances with no known medical benefit. In an article from the October issue of the medical journal Neuropharmacology, the researchers wrote that psilocybin should instead be labelled a Schedule IV drug, a category that includes prescription sleeping pills.
It could take at least five years for the Food and Drug Administration to reclassify psilocybin, the researchers wrote, because the drug would need to undergo a series of tests.
According to The New York Times, the Johns Hopkins researchers said the use of psilocybin should still be strictly controlled, since people with psychotic disorders and those who take high doses of magic mushrooms are at risk.
In addition to Oregon, residents of Denver could soon vote on the decriminalisation of magic mushrooms.
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