Since Denver became the first city to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms just shy of a year ago, the movement to decriminalize psychedelics has been sweeping the nation. According to research from Green Horizons, a boutique consumer insights firm focused on the cannabis and holistic health industry, four in ten (38%) U.S. adults feel that psilocybin mushrooms, also known as “magic mushrooms,” should be legal under at least some circumstances: 25% believe they should be legal under limited circumstances, such as medical or religious reasons, and 13% believe they should be legal under all circumstances.
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Support for legalization varies by age: among 18-34 year-olds, 45% believe psilocybin mushrooms should be legal under at least some circumstances; among 35-49 year-olds, 40%; and among 50+, just 23%. Support for legalization is also closely correlated with how much adults know about psychedelics. Seven in ten (71%) 18-34 year-olds say that they know a little or a lot about psychedelics; this drops to 59% among 35-49 year-olds and 49% among 50+.
As the science of psychedelics gains more mainstream coverage, such as in Michael Pollan’s 2018 book How to Change Your Mind, psychedelics’ reputation is changing. This evolving reputation is likely influencing support for legalization. According to the study, 27% of U.S. adults feel that psychedelics, when used in moderation, are less dangerous than other legal substances, like alcohol and tobacco. Three in ten (29%) believe that psychedelics can be beneficial for a wide variety of mental health and physical issues, including treatment-resistant depression, anxiety, PTSD, and addiction.
Among those who say they have at least some knowledge of psychedelics, 43% feel that psychedelics can be less dangerous than other legal substances and nearly half (47%) believe psychedelics can be a beneficial medical treatment. Furthermore, among those who say they have some knowledge of psychedelics, support for legalization of psilocybin mushrooms rises to 53% (35% under limited circumstances; 18% under all circumstances).
“When it comes to psychedelics, there are many parallels with the movement to legalize cannabis. In both cases, education is paramount,” said Adriana Waterston, Green Horizon’s SVP of Insights and Strategy. “Psychedelics, like cannabis, have been tied to a negative, highly stigmatized image for many years. Science, however, is showing us that psychedelics demonstrate tremendous promise for certain chronic psychological illnesses, even those that have been treatment-resistant. As we continue to study psychedelics and evidence for their benefits mount, we can expect support for legalization to follow.”
1,000 nationally representative online surveys among U.S. adults 18+ fielded in October 2019.