Just over a third of American voters recognize the fact that psilocybin mushrooms and other psychedelics have valid medical use, according to a new poll conducted by The Hill and HarrisX.
Between May 21st and 23rd, pollsters asked 1,899 registered voters whether they thought that “psychedelic substances such as ‘magic mushrooms’ have medical uses or not.” A strong majority of respondents (65 percent) said no to the question, but over a third (35 percent) did say yes. The survey also asked respondents to report their age, political affiliation, gender, and several other key demographics.
Like many other polls on drug reform issues, the Hill-HarrisX poll reports that younger and more liberal voters were more likely to acknowledge the healing powers of these medicines. A majority (53 percent) of 18-29 year olds agreed with the question, but support declined among older respondents. Men were also more likely (41 percent) to recognize the therapeutic potential of psychedelics than women (30 percent).
Support for psychedelics was also stronger among Democrats (43 percent), political independents (41 percent), and people who voted for Joe Biden (46 percent). On the flip side, less than a quarter of Republicans or Trump supporters said they believed shrooms have a medical use. A majority of respondents (52 percent) living in major cities also said they knew about the medical value of shrooms, compared to only 31 percent of those living in rural areas or 27 percent of suburban dwellers.
Although the majority of Americans still believe that psychedelics have no medical value, clinical research has proved them wrong. Recent research studies have found that psilocybin can treat symptoms of depression and anxiety more effectively than traditional pharmaceuticals can. Other studies have found that LSD, psilocybin, and other hallucinogens can break addictions, boost creative thinking, and help treat a wide range of physical and mental conditions.
“What’s on the table now is the prospect that psilocybin therapy could be an alternative” to prescription antidepressants, said Dr. Robin Carhart-Harris, head of the Centre for Psychedelic Research at Imperial College London, to Business Insider. “What we’re showing is that people could consider psilocybin therapy earlier on in the course of a depression.”
In the past two years, Oregon has legalized the use of psilocybin-assisted therapy, and many individual cities have decriminalized the possession of natural psychedelics. Lawmakers and activists in many other states are fighting for broader decriminalization and legalization laws, and the US Food and Drug Administration has already legalized the use of ketamine for treatment-resistant depression. The FDA is now sponsoring trials that could lead to the full legalization of both psilocybin– and MDMA-assisted therapy within the next few years.
As legalization efforts begin to expand and further research studies are conducted, it is likely that the general public will become more informed about the medical potential of psychedelics. A similar pattern has played out in cannabis-related polls over the past decade.
Back in 2012, before any state had legalized adult-use weed, only about half of all Americans supported weed legalization. But today, with medical marijuana legal in most states, and adult-use legal in over a dozen, recent polls are reporting that 69 to 91 percent of all Americans are ready to end the federal prohibition of pot.