In 2020, Oregon residents voted to approve a drug decriminalization plan and an initiative to allow the use of mushrooms as therapy. In summer of 2023, that decision allowed for the opening of a first-of-its-kind legal market for psilocybin mushrooms, also known as magic mushrooms. These mushrooms can alter normal brain activity and influence perceptions, senses, and emotions, thus inducing a brain elasticity that researchers say enables patients to escape mental ruts. The F.D.A. has given mushrooms “breakthrough therapy” status, which expedites the review of substances that have demonstrated promise.
Researchers who support the initiatives say that mushrooms can be helpful in treating depression, post traumatic stress syndrome, and other mental illnesses, as well as substance use disorders, especially when conventional therapies have not worked. Other researchers remain wary, saying that mushroom therapy has uncertain outcomes for patients and could have lasting negative effects.