Magic mushrooms -- they’re popularly known for tripping or getting high. But there’s also clinical research on psychedelics and whether they could help with mental health.
Now, there’s a push in Florida to decriminalize the use of magic mushrooms and make them legal in the state.
Some people at home are reading this and already thinking, "This is nuts — magic mushrooms? Could the drugs really have health benefits?"
But the FDA is looking into it and has labeled some research "breakthrough therapy." Currently, there are eight clinical trials in the U.S., and one of them is right in Lauderhill.
One in every five adults battles with mental health conditions, according to the National Alliance of Mental Illness. Robert Roundtree, 40, is one of them. He suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder.
“PTSD also manifests in night terrors. Nightmares all the time. Panic attacks. Wanting to stay inside a lot and not socialize," Roundtree said.
Roundtree says his PTSD comes from child-related trauma and being robbed at gunpoint. The single father of one and U.S. Navy veteran says he’s tried multiple legal therapies to treat his conditions. But the most successful treatment, he claims, has been magic mushrooms.
“Some of the time I might just take like half a gram," he said.
Magic mushrooms are naturally grown and contain psilocybin, a naturally occurring psychoactive and hallucinogenic.
“It really allows me to see the trauma and the things that I've experienced and am holding onto and that are giving me trouble in my life, maybe even causing self-destructive behaviors," Roundtree said.
But magic mushrooms are illegal in Florida. They are in the same class of drugs as heroin, meth and ketamine.
One state lawmaker wants to change that by legalizing psilocybin, also known as psychedelics.
“When people hear psychedelics, they think of tripping and hippies on LSD. That's not what this is," said Democrat State Rep. Michael Grieco.
Last month, Grieco introduced the Florida Psilocybin Mental Health Care Act. If passed, it would allow state-sponsored clinics to administer psilocybin for patients suffering from disorders like PTSD, depression and addiction.
“This is not about having some sort of out-of-body experience," Grieco said. "This is about micro-dosing. This is about doing it clinically and being done in a very controlled medical safe environment where folks are using this as treatment."
Research already exists about the use of magic mushrooms as medicine. And there are currently clinical trials studying the effects.
Dustin Robinson is a co-founder, of a nonprofit behind the push to legalize psychedelics.
"To some extent, it's an individual rights issue," he said. "But, also we’re in a mental health crisis right now. Previous to the pandemic, we were in a crisis. Now we’re obviously in an even worse crisis."
The National Alliance of Mental Health Illness calls Florida’s mental health crisis an epidemic. The N.A.M.I. reports 660,000 adults and 181,000 children live with severe mental illness in Florida. But the state ranks 49th in mental health programs, spending $37.28 28 cents per person last year.
Doctors like Michelle Weiner — who already use some legal psychedelics as therapy — says it’s time to start considering alternatives to traditional medicine.
“It dampens our personal narrative. Our story about ourselves. It helps us dissolve our ego and has a lot of antidepressant effects," Weiner said.
Magic mushrooms are usually ingested orally. Its effects last up to six hours.
People like Roundtree look forward to the day they can use them legally, and as prescribed.
“It gives me enough of a mood boost to feel real good. a little bit of more mental clarity," Roundtree said.
Oregon is the only state to legalize magic mushrooms. On Wednesday, Feb. 17, the city of Hallandale will consider a resolution to support Grieco’s magic mushrooms to legalize the psychedelic.