Description: Consider these two questions for a moment. 1. Who uses cannabis, psilocybin, or LSD? and 2. Who should (under a doctor’s supervision) use cannabis, psilocybin, or LSD? Unless your answer to the second question is “Anyone who wants to” the number of people, if any, that you have in your second list will likely be shorter than the number of people in your first list/answer. Certainly, typical answers to thee questions as they relate to cannabis have shifted in countries like Canada where the use of cannabis has been legalized. What about psilocybin (magic mushrooms)? They have been largely viewed as an illegal recreational drug. However, recently, research has been conducted and arguments have been mounted suggesting that psilocybin could have a powerful medicinal role to play in end-of-life palliative care for some terminally ill individuals. You can read about that in the article linked below and in some of the article in the Further Reading section down below. Before you do, or before you decide this is not something to consider and move on, think for a minute about the slightly less recent shift of cannabis from an illegal recreational drug to a drug that could be taken for medical purposes as prescribed by a physician following and number of regulatory shifts to the legal substance it is today in many jurisdictions. Yes, some of those shifts are due to increases in recreational freedoms but SOME are due to the recognition of research supported medical applications. Under what circumstances or situations might psilocybin merit similar treatment? Read the linked article to see what some researchers and clinicians think (and see a bit of the data they have gathered along the way).
Source: Medical psilocybin use should be decided by patient and their doctor, not the government, Bruce Tobin, The Globe and Mail.
Date: November 14, 2021
Did your thoughts about the should question above shift at all after reading the article? What other information/data did you feel you might want to see before or as you considered shifting your perspective? The idea that a recreational substance might have clinical/medicinal possibilities is not one that arises easily given the hard legal line drawn between legal and illegal substances but, assuming there is good research being done, it is a line that may deserve to be reconsidered from time to time and situation by situation.
Questions for Discussion:
- Does it make sense to argue that there may be medicinal benefits to some, or perhaps many, substances that have been or are considered illegal?
- What sorts of research needs to be done if we are to systematically address the previous question?
- The author of the linked article argues for the consideration of the use of psilocybin to be viewed as a matter between a (terminally ill) patient and their physician. What sorts of research, guidelines, and controls would need to be in place if this were to be attempted (or should it be attempted)?
References (Read Further):
Dyck, Erika (2020) Are Canadian ready to accept psychedelics in palliative care? The Globe and Mail. Link
Byock, I. (2018). Taking psychedelics seriously. Journal of palliative medicine, 21(4), 417-421. Link
Kelmendi, B., Corlett, P., Ranganathan, M., D’Souza, C., & Krystal, J. H. (2016). The role of psychedelics in palliative care reconsidered: A case for psilocybin. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 30(12), 1212-1214. Link
Doblin, R. E., Christiansen, M., Jerome, L., & Burge, B. (2019). The past and future of psychedelic science: an introduction to this issue. Link
Rosenbaum, D., Boyle, A. B., Rosenblum, A. M., Ziai, S., & Chasen, M. R. (2019). Psychedelics for psychological and existential distress in palliative and cancer care. Current Oncology, 26(4), 225-226. Link
Penn, A. D., Phelps, J., Rosa, W. E., & Watson, J. (2021). Psychedelic-Assisted Psychotherapy Practices and Human Caring Science: Toward a Care-Informed Model of Treatment. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 00221678211011013. Link
Payne, J. E., Chambers, R., & Liknaitzky, P. (2021). Combining psychedelic and mindfulness interventions: Synergies to inform clinical practice. ACS Pharmacology & Translational Science, 4(2), 416-423. Link
Reiff, C. M., Richman, E. E., Nemeroff, C. B., Carpenter, L. L., Widge, A. S., Rodriguez, C. I., … & Work Group on Biomarkers and Novel Treatments, a Division of the American Psychiatric Association Council of Research. (2020). Psychedelics and psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy. American Journal of Psychiatry, 177(5), 391-410. Link