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The Recent History of Shrooms

Learn Mushroom's historical role. Politics, entertainment, history and more!

Last Updated: Mon May 20 2024

To delve into the depths of the ancient and wondrous history of shrooms, we would need a whole undergraduate study just to touch the surface. For the purpose of this, we’ll just take a look at what the hell has been going on with shrooms in the last 100 years?

Believe it or not shrooms were around before Jimi Hendrix shredded lsd induced electric guitar stanzas at Woodstock. That’s when I thought shrooms were invented anyway. But to take a step back, one of the first known shroom arts that survived, depicts a shroom shaman on a cave wall dated from 4713 BC. We’ve been using shrooms to heal our minds and bodies for over 7,000 years! Likely more.

(In depth story of cave paintings)

Now fast forward from 7000 years ago, to the relative now.

In 1971 psilocybin, and psilocyin, were classified schedule 1 by The United Nations. This denotes Psilocybin as non medically useful. Obviously a crock of shit. But that’s how it goes, and when the most powerful tribunal in the world, backed by the biggest militaries says no shrooms, what are you gonna do? This wasn’t just a war on drugs, but a war on the human experience.

(Convention of Psychotropic Substances, 1971 PDF LINK)

The rules across the world vary greatly, and even in the United States there are a few quirky rules. Spores are legal to possess in 47/50 states. This leaves California, Idaho, and Georgia as the 3 states where you may not possess spores. There are a few countries where the happy mushrooms are indulged legally. The laws still vary a lot but the Bahamas, Jamaica, and Samoa are a few that you will probably not be bothered growing a few and enjoying thy fruits.

On the research side, in 1958 the infamous Albert Hoffman first isolated Psilocybin and Psilocyin from a P. mexicana. This was later culminated by patenting such efforts in 1963. Thanks to this work, modern scientists have identified how to synthetically produce psilocybin from 4 components within the mushroom. To push it back just a bit, two ethnobotanists in the 1930’s, by the name of Schultes and Reko took a trip to Mexico and published in the Harvard University Botanical Museum Leaflets in 1939. This inspired the Wasson couple to give it a go. This magical journey culminated in a 1957 piece in Life Magazine. This modern heralded renaissance would be short lived, with the first legal framework in the United States arriving in 1965.

(Life Magazine Cover 1957, Depicting Wasson in the Jungle)

It wasn’t again until 1997 that Zurich University resumed official studies. Their studies led to profound scientific discoveries that Psilocybin improved brain and nervous system function. All this crazy hoopla just scratches the surface of what there is to learn and discover about our deep, standoffish history here in the United States with the magic mushroom.

Of course, much has happened since 1997. It is 2024 here in Colorado and it looks like licensed facilities will be a thing of the near future. To think of where we were in 1971, to over 50 years later having legal options, it's pretty sweet. Check out our article on Prop 122 and legality In Colorado, and throughout the world.

(Our Blog Post on Prop 122 Mushroom Legality in Colorado )

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