With various cities such as Santa Cruz, Oakland and Denver having decriminalized psilocybin, and Oregon actually passing a ballot measure legalizing magic mushroom therapy, it’s clear that the many therapeutic benefits of psilocybin demonstrated in research are bearing fruit.
While this progress may be hard to deny, a large percentage of Americans have no knowledge about the recent strides that have been made in psilocybin research. A study, which focused on newspaper coverage about psilocybin, analyzed how many times psilocybin was mentioned in four different newspapers between January 1, 1989, and December 31, 2019.
The analysis also examined three main issues:
- If there had been a change in the use of other terms for psilocybin
- If the number of articles that mentioned psilocybin changed
- If sentiments (either positive or negative) about psilocybin have changed.
The regional newspapers involved in the study are;
- “Tampa Bay Times”
- “St. Louis Post-Dispatch”
- “San Diego Union-Tribune”
- “The New York Times”
While these results may not be conclusive, they did reveal valuable information. The findings discovered that “The New York Times” was the only paper that recorded an increase in the articles that mentioned psilocybin. The “Times” also noted overwhelmingly positive scores between 2016–2019. For instance, it got a positive score of 26 in the year 2018, which was 700% higher than any other high scores recorded by the other three papers in any year.
However, it should be noted that when 2018, 2017 and 1991 (outlier years) were excluded, “The New York Times” showed no difference from the other papers with regard to sentiment intensity. It is possible, therefore, that the other papers involved in the study had less or no awareness of psilocybin or interest in it and when they did discuss it, it was mostly in a negative light.
Despite this, however, the recent increase in positive reporting by “The New York Times” may show a shift toward positivity. Psilocybin advocates may also be pleased to learn that every newspaper recorded a decline in the use of the term “hallucinogenic mushrooms” to refer to psilocybin, in comparison with other terms. This may be an indication that more are believing that psilocybin is a path to positive experiences instead of a drug that gives you false hallucinations.
The current U.S. environment with regard to psilocybin use may have some parallels to the first modern wave of the substance’s use, but many hope that research in this particular field will continue.
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