'People are trying to heal': Growing calls for legal magic mushroom in LA

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“Psilocybin mushrooms are used to treat a number of things,” says Mary Carreon, including anxiety and depression. Photo by Flickr/P K.

The city of Oakland effectively decriminalized mushrooms in 2019, and some Angelenos hope that magic mushrooms will one day be legalized for treatment or even recreationally in LA. 

“A lot of people down here are trying to emulate what happened in Oakland,” says journalist and podcaster Mary Carreon, who reports on cannabis as well as other legal and illegal drugs.

“Psilocybin mushrooms are used to treat a number of things,” says Carreon. Most commonly it is used to treat anxiety and depression, but there have been studies on breaking addictions with alcohol or tobacco, and treating eating disorders. 

There are a myriad of ways to ingest it including in bonbon chocolates and pixie sticks. Typically raw mushrooms, synthesized psilocybin pills, or ground-up psilocybin mushrooms inside capsules are used in psilocybin-assisted therapy settings.

While the bulk of these mushrooms are grown in the wetter regions of Northern California, Los Angeles has one of the biggest markets for consumers to buy the drug. And during the pandemic, people are seeking it out even more.

“After everything we've been through, people are trying to heal,” Carreon says. “We're struggling with mental health conditions. We're struggling with depression. We're struggling with anxiety. I think people are kind of looking for other options. And right now, I think people are more experimental than ever before.”

Last year, the California State Senate approved Senate Bill 519, which would decriminalize magic mushrooms along with other psychedelic substances. The measure still needs to pass the State Assembly. But Senator Scott Weiner, who authored the bill, pulled the bill before a vote to gather more support.