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Despite the decriminalization of “magic mushrooms” in various cities and states, it remains unsafe to consume them for recreational purposes. A study from the University Of Virginia School Of Medicine highlights an increase in psilocybin-related incidents among adolescents and young adults. Data from the National Poison Data System reveals a notable rise in calls to poison centers concerning psilocybin use by teens and young adults from 2018 to 2022.

Psilocybin poisoning on the rise following decriminalization

Between 2013 and 2018, the number of calls related to psilocybin remained stable. However, after decriminalization efforts starting in May 2019 in locations like Oregon, Colorado, Washington, D.C., Detroit, and Seattle, there was a notable surge in such incidents. Calls regarding psilocybin more than tripled for teenagers aged 13 to 19, increasing from 152 to 464, while for adults aged 20 to 25, they more than doubled from 125 to 294 during the same timeframe.

Dr. Christopher Holstege, director of UVA Health’s Blue Ridge Poison Center and chief of the Division of Medical Toxicology at the UVA School of Medicine, expresses deep concern about children accessing these products. He highlights the lack of data on the long-term effects of such compounds on children’s developing brains, particularly regarding neurotransmission. Additionally, he mentions the unclear reasons behind adverse reactions to psilocybin, including ‘bad trips,’ which can potentially harm the individual or others through violent behavior.

Psilocybin poisoning incidence high among males

The study found that the majority of calls regarding psilocybin consumption were intentional, with males comprising 75% of incidents. Many affected individuals needed medical attention due to symptoms like hallucinations, agitation, and confusion caused by psilocybin. Despite legal changes, psilocybin use remains prohibited for those under 21 in decriminalized areas, which researchers consider concerning due to increasing incidents among young people.

Dr. Rita Farah, an epidemiologist at the Blue Ridge Poison Center, highlights the importance of parental awareness regarding the availability of psilocybin in edible forms like chocolate and gummies. Drawing from lessons learned with edible cannabis, she emphasizes the risk of young children mistaking these edibles for candy.