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The legality of psilocybin mushrooms (along with other plant based entheogens/psychoactive substances) is a rapidly changing landscape in the United States. Comparisons can be drawn to the legalization efforts of cannabis. Like cannabis, psilocybin remains a Schedule I substance which, according to the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), means the substance is not safe and has no accepted medical use [1]. We know this to be quite false as there is a plethora of well-researched scientific papers telling us otherwise [2] [3] [4] [5] [6]. Because of this promising research, local governments have begun rolling out legislation for revising outdated prohibition policies.

A Quick Look At Cannabis

First, let's take a quick look at the road to legalization with our good friend marijuana. In as early as the 70s, many states saw it unfit for possession and consumption of cannabis to be a felony. Texas, Oregon, California, Alaska, Maine, and Ohio all voted to decriminalize cannabis around this time [7]. Then in 1996, California became the first state to legalize medical cannabis with Proposition 215 [8]. By 2012, 15+ states have legalized cannabis for medical use, and Colorado and Washington become the first two states to legalize recreational cannabis usage [9].

In 2024, cannabis is legal in 38 out of 50 states for medical use — in 24 states for recreational use. Cannabinoid drugs have also been approved by the FDA for use as an appetite stimulant, antiemetic, and analgesic [10] [11].

A Current Look At Psilocybin

Legal reform associated with psilocybin and other psychedelic substances has been following in the footsteps of cannabis. Oregon passed a 2020 ballot measure to become the first state to decriminalize psilocybin and legalize its supervised use. Colorado followed suit in 2022. Many cities have also begun to roll out legislation. In California alone, 5 cities have voted to decriminalize psilocybin along with other psychoactive substances.

Stringent policies and propaganda from the war on drugs have tainted the public perception of psychedelic substances. As the United States comes out of the smoke of Nixon and Reagan's war on drugs, public opinion has begun to shift in favor of legalizing therapeutic uses of psychedelic substances. A UC Berkeley published survey suggests that 61% of registered voters are in favor legalizing regulated access to psychedelics for therapeutic purposes. Another 49% is in support of full decriminalization [12].

Map showing the legality of psilocybin in the United States (as of March 2024)

Legality of psilocybin in the United States

Legal for supervised adult use and decriminalized
States with decriminalized cities
No legislation, still illegal


  1. 21 U.S. Code § 801 - Congressional findings and declarations: controlled substances.

  2. Bas T.H. de Veen, Arnt F.A. Schellekens, Michel M.M. Verheij & Judith R. Homberg (2017) Psilocybin for treating substance use disorders?, Expert Review of Neurotherapeutics, 17:2, 203-212, DOI: 10.1080/14737175.2016.1220834

  3. Daws, R.E., Timmermann, C., Giribaldi, B. et al. Increased global integration in the brain after psilocybin therapy for depression. Nat Med 28, 844–851 (2022).

  4. S.B. Goldberg, B.T. Pace, C.R. Nicholas, C.L. Raison, P.R. Hutson, The experimental effects of psilocybin on symptoms of anxiety and depression: A meta-analysis, Psychiatry Research, Volume 284, 2020, 112749, ISSN 0165-1781,

  5. Johnson, M.W., Griffiths, R.R. Potential Therapeutic Effects of Psilocybin. Neurotherapeutics 14, 734–740 (2017).

  6. Garcia-Romeu, Albert; R. Griffiths, Roland; W. Johnson, Matthew. Psilocybin-Occasioned Mystical Experiences in the Treatment of Tobacco Addiction. Current Drug Abuse Reviews, Volume 7, Number 3, 2014, pp. 157-164(8). Bentham Science Publishers.

  7. Patrick Anderson. High in America. The Viking Press, New York. ISBN 0-670-11990-3.

  8. John Balzar. Voters Approve Measure to Use Pot as Medicine. Nov. 6 1996. Los Angeles Times.

  9. Coffman, Keith; Neroulias, Nicole (November 6, 2012). "Colorado, Washington first states to legalize recreational pot". Reuters.

  10. "Marinol (Dronabinol)" (PDF). US Food and Drug Administration. September 2004. Retrieved 14 January 2018.

  11. "Nabilone label" (PDF). FDA. May 2006.

  12. "UC Berkeley Center for the Science of Psychedelics Unveils Results of the First-Ever Berkeley Psychedelics Survey". UC Berkeley Center for the Science of Psychedelics (BCSP). July 12, 2023. Archived from the original on September 16, 2023.