In November of 2020, Oregon and Washington D.C. both voted to decriminalize magic mushrooms, which broadly includes plants and plant compounds containing the chemical compound psilocybin, which is responsible for the hallucinogenic effect experienced by users. 

At the time, CivicScience looked into public sentiment regarding the recreational or medicinal use of magic mushrooms and / or psilocybin, only to find that broad public support for decriminalization had been growing. Since Oregon and Washington D.C.’s decriminalization of the drugs, however, only a handful of large cities and municipalities across the country had followed suit. No states have since legalized magic mushrooms, despite a growing understanding of the medicinal benefits of psilocybin and hallucinogenic drugs in general. 

In response, CivicScience decided to check in on where public support stands on the decriminalization of magic mushrooms, only to find that overall comfort among the Gen Pop has actually dropped over the course of 2021. 

Respondents reporting that they are “Very comfortable” with the decriminalization of the drugs have dipped from a high of 23% in 2020 have fallen to 19%. This rate has fallen below the percentage of those who are “Somewhat comfortable” with magic mushrooms, which has largely remained the same. Those who report, “Not at all comfortable,” on the other hand, have risen slightly, though remain much lower as compared to 2019.

Conversely, however, since last year the Gen Pop has largely grown more comfortable with the idea of psilocybin being used in a medicinal way.

Those who report that they are “Very comfortable” have largely plateaued, but “Somewhat comfortable” has jumped four percentage points while “Not at all comfortable” has continued a downward slide. 

The opposite effects of people becoming less comfortable with magic mushrooms being legalized, but more comfortable with the use of the compound that makes the mushrooms “magic” to treat medical conditions, may be a result of the series of books and documentaries available that detail the benefits of hallucinogens for certain medical conditions, though maybe don’t challenge the current social stigma around recreational use. 

As it turns out, among the portion of the Gen Pop that is concerned about the decriminalization of magic mushrooms (approximately 65%), the biggest worry is “an overall danger to public health,” followed by a generally vague feeling that “it will be bad for society.” 

So while more than half of those expressing concern can’t articulate why magic mushrooms shouldn’t be decriminalized, they just know they shouldn’t be. That sentiment, perhaps unsurprisingly, is largely driven by the oldest demographics. Interestingly, however, their younger counterparts are instead most worried about other, more dangerous drugs eventually being legalized. 

Perhaps more interestingly, is the breakdown of why people are concerned about decriminalization when compared to how concerned they are about being in public spaces over the last year of the pandemic.

Those who are the most concerned about public spaces are the most concerned about the public health ramifications of magic mushrooms. Meanwhile, those who are not at all concerned about public spaces skew towards the vague notion that magic mushrooms will be bad for society. 

But that’s not the only way the pandemic has impacted the overall outlook on magic mushrooms.

It turns out that people who know someone in their households who got COVID at some point the past year are more likely to be very comfortable with the decriminalization of magic mushrooms. 

And support for the use of psilocybin in medical contexts is even higher among the same group. 

Perhaps the mental, emotional, and physical stressors of the pandemic have people opening to the potential for new ways to treat mental health. 

To further prove that point, data shows that those who think they might still be in quarantine or social distancing for the long haul are more open to both the decriminalization of magic mushrooms and the use of psilocybin for medicinal purposes. 

In any case, while magic mushrooms don’t have quite the level of support as marijuana does, in terms of legalization, the pandemic has surely pushed its use more to the public consciousness, especially in its medicinal purposes. Civic Science will check in again next year to track how public sentiment continues to shift.