There’s a lot of stigma surrounding certain types of drugs. Some of the stigma comes from the addictive nature of these compounds while others may be more cultural. For example, caffeine, nicotine and alcohol are legal drugs that can kill you. Yet, no one would bat an eye if you reach for a cup of coffee first thing in the morning or drink a glass of wine at dinner. But if you light up a joint or take some psilocybin (psychedelic) mushrooms before a yoga class, someone might take issue with that.
Gregory Ferenstein of Forbes magazine recently took a trip to Amsterdam, where those mushrooms (also known as truffles) are now legal for personal use. He too, had questions about the possible shift in culture after legalization. Much to his surprise, not much has changed. Ferenstein compares his experience to California. After legalizing recreational weed, those who wanted marijuana used marijuana. Uninterested people stayed uninterested.
Mushroom Legalization in the US
In America, legalizing these mushrooms seems like the next step for states such as Colorado. As expected, there is mass public concern that legalizing these drugs would lead to a public health crisis and decline in morals. However, we must ask ourselves this question, “Does the stigma of these drugs stem from the drugs themselves or from the people we associate with them?”
How We Look at Addicts
Before the opioid crisis, heroin users were stigmatized as homeless low-lifes with no self-control or values. Today, we understand that addiction can happen to anyone. Opioids and narcotics are legal drugs, when prescribed by doctors. Yet the outcome of mass addiction seems to be the same. As the public became educated on the “why” of addiction, the stigma of being an opioid addict is slowly fading. This allows those who need help to get it.
So perhaps America should take a look across the pond at the Dutch. Visit Amsterdam and take a peek at what life looks like after mushroom legalization. The lack of drama might be surprising.