Psilocybin Decriminalization Linked to Surge in Poison Control Center Calls

Psilocybin Decriminalization Linked to Surge in Poison Control Center Calls

Seraiah Alexander
Seraiah Alexander
June 24, 2024
2 min

Poison control centers across the United States are reporting a troubling increase in calls related to psilocybin mushrooms. This surge in cases, particularly among adolescents and adults, appears to be linked to the growing trend of decriminalization in several states and cities, raising concerns about the accessibility and safe use of these substances. 

Calls to poison control centers regarding psilocybin exposure have more than tripled, from 152 in 2018 to 464 in 2022. A study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health analyzed data from 55 U.S. poison control centers spanning from 2013 to 2022, noting a significant increase in calls after 2019, when psilocybin started being decriminalized in several jurisdictions across the nation. 

Around 75% of cases involving teenagers and over 70% of those involving young adults required medical attention. The most commonly reported symptoms from the calls included:

  • Hallucinations and delusions (36.6%)
  • Severe agitation and panic (27.6%)
  • Abnormal heart rates (20.2%)
  • Confusion and cognitive impairment (16%)

Experts are concerned about the long-term effects psilocybin can have on adolescents, especially since it’s more accessible to the public now.

“We have limited data on the potential long-term consequences on the developing brains of children when exposed to such compounds that impact the brain’s neurotransmission. We also do not understand fully why some individuals have markedly adverse complications to psilocybin, known as bad trips, that can lead to harm to the individual taking or others who may be victims of violent behavior,” said Dr. Christopher Holstege, director of UVA Health’s Blue Ridge Poison Center. 

A growing need for regulation and safety precautions

Although decriminalization efforts are meant to reduce criminal penalties for adults and allow for broader access to therapeutic use, the increased availability of psilocybin and psilocybin-containing products has opened doors for potential misuse. Areas that have decriminalized the substance have only specified its use for those 21 and up, but this has not entirely prevented its use among younger generations. A similar situation occurred with the legalization of cannabis, which saw a spike in acute cannabis poisonings among children and young adults. 

Although the increased numbers of younger demographics could be linked to a greater willingness to try psychedelics, accident ingestion cases have also been reported. Many psilocybin products are now being made into edible forms, such as chocolates or gummies, which can be easily mistaken for regular candies by children. 

As decriminalization continues to spread, the experiences of cannabis legislation can inform regulatory strategies to protect vulnerable populations like children and ensure that psilocybin is used responsibly and safely.


Seraiah Alexander

Seraiah Alexander

Content Editor

Table Of Contents

Rising concerns over psilocybin-related emergencies
A growing need for regulation and safety precautions

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