What it’s like to be high on psilocybin, and the similarities & differences to the cannabis industry
At Cannabis Manufacturer’s Guild, we are 100% focused on the cannabis industry. That being said, it’s difficult not to look to our neighbours in psychedelic land (many of whom got their start in the cannabis space) and note the similarities between their nascent industry and the recent development of our own.
The most glaring parallel seems to be the lack of product knowledge on the part of many of the individuals investing in or starting businesses related to psychedelics – several of whom having never come close to what it’s like actually eating a “shroom” or tripping on mescaline. I experienced this first-hand as I moved from the financial sector into the cannabis industry, having to explain now-commonplace terms to investors and bankers. What is a vape? What is a cultivar? What is the difference between Indica and Sativa? It seemed people were willing to raise or invest millions of dollars for an industry in which they had very little real interest, knowledge, or experience.
Today, psychedelics like psilocybin, ketamine, mescaline, and ayahuasca are the new exciting products to which investors are turning their attention. They expect these products to hit the medical market and redefine treatment for conditions such as PTSD, depression and other neurological disorders. As we see hundreds of millions of dollars get injected into the sector, the question we have is: How many of these individuals are actually consuming these products on the regular, or at least have a general understanding of their effects?
I think it’s important for anyone investing in a company have an understanding of the core product on which their investment rests. I know what products Proctor and Gamble make. I know what Kraft Foods makes. I know how Corona and other Constellation Brands stack up against other alcoholic beverages. But how many people who have now invested in the psychedelics space actually know what it’s like to take one or two mushrooms and experience the four-hour journey that follows?
We do however understand that given the current legal status of mushrooms and access to other psychedelics, it may not possible for everyone who believes in this new industry to experience the products first-hand. So, for the benefit of would-be investors and our readers, the Cannabis Manufacturers Guild is proud to take you step-by-step through the first experience one of our CMG partners had with psilocybin. All in the name of science, of course.
Q: Why did you want to record your first experience with mushrooms?
Mushrooms and other psychedelics have always been this perceived “step up” in danger if you look at the spectrum of narcotics. Despite being a long time user of cannabis, there was a mental barrier surrounding the potential risks of taking mushrooms – even though that fear was manufactured during the same War on Drugs era that kept cannabis out of people’s hands for so long, and, tragically, put many individuals behind bars. So now that the narrative that cannabis is so bad has been negated, I thought it was time to see if other herbal narcotics also got unfairly demonized.
The reason for recording it stems from being unable to find information that would accurately capture the experience and I believe in order to set standards for responsible use, it begins with individuals recounting their experiences – even if not done in a formal medical setting. Until groups can provide realistic use guidelines, it’s hard to expect anyone to jump into the unknown world of “psychedelic” mushrooms.
Q: Can you set the scene for us?
I had rented a house in cottage country with about 12 individuals – all between the ages of 28 and 38. Of the group, all were regular drinkers (some heavier than others), all but two were cannabis consumers (four including myself use cannabis regularly), and about half had consumed mushrooms in the past. I would call the individual who brought the mushrooms an experienced user.
On this night, there were three of us taking the mushroom plunge – myself being the only first-time user. We actually had an ex-police officer with us as well who didn’t partake in any drugs but was able to add a lot more context to the differences I was feeling and how my senses had changed versus those who were drinking or had just smoked cannabis.
Q: So how much did you take and when?
It was about 10pm when I took one whole mushroom with stem and then two smaller mushroom heads which I was told was about 1.5 to 2 grams.
Q: At what point did you start tripping?
Word of advice for those new educators pushing the idea of psychedelic use as a medical treatment for things like PTSD, depression, anxiety or other disorders – stop calling it a trip.
The idea of “tripping” stirs feelings of falling flat on your face in front of people and embarrassing oneself. The negative images of mushroom use are already frightful enough for new users, let alone everyone telling me “get ready to be tripping” – I remember thinking to myself, “sweet, I’m already mentally prepared for an embarrassing series of events to solidify my first experience”.
Q: Can you walk us through your night?
Around 10:30 to 11pm, the group left the house to head into town and go to a bar – again, I had taken the mushrooms around 10pm. The walk was about 30 minutes and I recall feelings of happiness and levity. I noticed the change in my feelings because when I had originally taken the mushrooms, I was actually rather tired as we had just played golf and I was not that interested in going back out. Fast forward 30 minutes to an hour and I found myself rather happy to be walking and outside and I recall thinking “wow – these trees are pretty cool”.
That really started the phase of introspectively exploring why I was happy and what was triggering the happiness. I could recall not being happy earlier in the evening, but then walking through the forest I was all of a sudden super excited about the whole adventure. You can really characterize the initial high as thinking about a lot of small details you may typically overlook and all paths lead back to some feeling of joy – whether you are happy to have come to some conclusion about something or you realize your mood is improved or you notice something for the first time that you may typically overlook. At this time, my speech patterns weren’t really impacted but I did notice my body was a lot less tense and sore which I had attributed to golf earlier, and I was certainly smiling and willing to tell everyone (and I mean everyone) that “I feel great”.
As we walked, I felt a levity towards situations. When I thought about ideas or about myself, there was a natural hope about the situation as opposed to anxiety. If I thought about work, I felt like everything would be fine and I knew what to do. When it came to a relationship, I viewed it in a positive light. Overall it was just hard to be in a bad mood about something, even when people around me were potentially annoying or negative. As I continued to look introspectively, my typical overly critical lens had been replaced by hope and positivity, and I was able to better solve any perceived problems I thought of.
By the time we got to the restaurant and about an hour and thirty minutes had gone by, the giggles really started kicking in. All that hope and positivity turned into hilarity.
What was interesting is what would trigger laughing fits. In most cases, it was me realizing my cognition had been impacted – which was funny to me – or when I was able to deconstruct some obscure thought or observation about something – that was also extremely funny to me. Not only was I thinking differently about people, or things, or experiences – the very fact I knew I was thinking differently and coming to new conclusions was really rewarding.
Now for anyone who is cannabis smoker, you probably know what the giggles are and feel like. With mushrooms though, imagine your biggest giggle experience but without cognitive impairment, just hindered communication skills. I didn’t feel sluggish and uncommunicative as one might when they are really high on cannabis. I was actually just laughing so hard it was difficult to speak.
I then started to realize the hyper-activity in my brain. As the night progressed, I found myself playing out a whole joke in my head without opening my mouth and then laughing hysterically at my own non-communicated joke – to the great confusion of those around me who were drunk or sober.
Now that hyper brain activity went beyond just funny jokes. When I was able to regain composure and have a conversation with people, I felt the ability to process my thoughts and opinions, while also being more aware of others and their perspective. I could catch myself thinking “that’s an interesting way of looking at it,” but also realizing that it wasn’t my typical thought pattern and enjoying my own new deeper viewpoint.
Throughout the night I found myself taking joy in looking at things differently but also rewarding my psyche on its new progressive thoughts through joyous laughter and appreciation for myself. Across all my conversations and internal thoughts, any problems in my life that crept into my head all of a sudden became a lot clearer to solve. There seemed to be fewer distractions getting in the way.
Q: Tell me about this ex-policer officer and his involvement?
So this was interesting. Sometime throughout the night the debate of being impaired but still being able to drive a car came up. Now obviously no one was encouraged to drive or got into any vehicles that night. But, from an argument’s standpoint, I was curious as to who was more intoxicated, and therefore most dangerous behind the wheel – a question we posed to our ex-cop friend.
He stood both myself and another clearly intoxicated individual up and ran a series of tests, like “follow my moving finger without moving your head,” walk a straight line, or say the alphabet backwards. All throughout the tests he explained the cues police officers look for when testing those they suspect are impaired.
To make a long story short, the drunk guy failed all the tests. He couldn’t keep his head straight and follow a moving finger with his eyes – not even close. On the other hand, I still had the motor reflexes to accomplish all the tests correctly – the only giveaway was in my enjoyment of the tests themselves. It was nearly impossible to wipe the look of amusement off my face as I tracked a finger moving 6 inches from my face up and down, then left to right. It was very entertaining to me. I definitely would have gone to jail though if I had been driving.
Q: How did the night end?
After a few hours on a patio, we walked back to the house. My giggles were fleeting but the overall inflated mood I was in stayed all the way until I went to bed around 2am. I had no problem sleeping and woke up without any signs of a hangover. Overall, I’d had rewarding experiences that reminded me of the first time I got really happy high – probably more intense, but certainly without some of the negative effects you may get from too much cannabis consumption like hunger and sluggishness. To oversimplify the experience, I’d say it’s like smoking a Sativa on steroids.
Q: So what are your conclusions and final thoughts for readers?
A few things – it really wasn’t as “heavy” of an experience that I always feared it would be, especially when compared with cannabis – at least in the dosage that I took. Maybe that’s because of a lower dose or my tolerance but at the end of the day, if taken properly and in the right dose and setting, an experience with psychedelics can be fun and enlightening.
There were certain follow up effects too – I felt a little more balanced for the next few days, actually consumed less cannabis and alcohol, and was in good spirits when I returned to work. While the experience is going to be different for everyone, I can see how mushrooms could potentially have lasting medical benefits for certain people, even though it may not be something those people consume every day (apart from certain micro-dosing patients).
Having taken it now it does change my viewpoint on the potential success of certain business models and investment opportunities. Will psychedelics be as widely accepted as cannabis? – No. Would I invest in companies focused on growing and extracting? No. Do I think psychedelics will have a medical purpose and role in millions of people’s lives? – Yes.
For those reasons, looking to psychedelics companies who are targeting real drug trials or those looking at biosynthetically creating the core chemicals like psilocybin or ketamine for the medical market, that is where I think we will see some level of success.
We hope you enjoyed this public service announcement.
The Cannabis Manufacturer’s Guild