Are psychedelics doomed to follow in the footsteps of cannabis?

Published Sep 14, 2022 09:00 a.m. ET
iStock / Iker Zabaleta

More than 3 years after legalization, we now have a pretty good idea of how the government and regulatory agencies view and treat cannabis. By now, most assumed we’d have access to all kinds of wonderful cannabinoid-fueled options – enough to satisfy the needs of each and every enthusiast, but that vision couldn’t be further from the reality we’re living in today.

Right now, it’s easy enough for the average person to walk into a dispensary and buy cannabis products, while selection remains limited. Concentrations are capped. Drinks and edibles have superficial limits and out of thousands of cultivars that exist today, you’ll only find a handful of options on any menu. Because of this, pot parties are rare, and many are left with no choice but to opt-out of unsuitable alternatives that don’t work as well, or in the way consumers need.

It’s easy to complain about all the ways the cannabis industry has failed both recreational and medicinal users, especially since the days when it was difficult for even medicinal patients to get their hands on some seem so far behind us. A time when sick people literally feared the repercussions of self-medicating.

It all starts with restricted access

That’s pretty much where we’re at right now with psilocybin mushrooms, with a single narrow pathway for desperate souls to attempt to navigate if they want a shot at legal possession, only worse because magic mushrooms are only being given to those in the direst circumstances. Unless you’re dying, chances for patients to be accepted by Health Canada as legitimate medical consumers are slim to none.

Other psychedelics are even more challenging to try since there is no legal framework in place to apply. Unless you’re lucky enough to qualify to be part of scientific research, there is no way to access even the most natural drugs, many of which may significantly improve the lives of millions.

Where do we go from here?


Eventually, the floodgates will open, just as they did with cannabis, and it’ll instantly be easier and safer to buy and consume psychedelics, but how far will those changes go, and will we make the same mistakes as we did with our beloved plant? Will it only be undereducated doctors who will have the privilege to decide who gets to try it, and who gets left out? Or will others with different perspectives such as psychologists be put in charge of writing those prescriptions?

It's highly likely that we will see the same extremely limited access to psychedelics, at least in the beginning, but how will we transition from there, and will it be at a pace that’s in the best interest of consumers? Are we going to sit back and just accept the insane amount of oversight and time wasted, resulting in the same problems we still have today with cannabis?

What we need to do

The only way to dodge the metaphorical bullet that is bounding our direction is to take control of the future by establishing better ground rules right now. Science needs to fuel our decisions moving forward, and knowledge should be what shapes the psychedelic industry into something we can all be proud to see. Access should be based on age, and what we know are safe doses. Instructions must be clear, and of course, we will need to provide people with a safe space to do it all in.

Everyone should have the opportunity to try clean psychedelics be it for recreation or medical use, in a way that is safe, educational, and appropriate without fear, so let’s get this thing done the right way the first time.

Medical psilocybin requests are being denied in Canada


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