Dr. Nora Volkow, the director of the N.I.D.A, said that preliminary clinical studies had shown that psychedelics might one day become an important tool for the treatment of psychiatric disorders, including addiction to other drugs. But she said she worried that many people were self-medicating with psychedelics.
“Psychedelic drugs have been promoted as a potential cure for many health conditions without adequate research to support these claims,” Dr. Volkow said. “There are people who are very desperate for mental health care, and there are businesses that are very eager to make money by marketing substances as treatments or cures.”
In 2018, the Food and Drug Administration gave psilocybin a special designation to accelerate research into its efficacy as a treatment for depression, which could lead to approval for clinical use.
The promising clinical studies have galvanized a movement to legalize psychedelics in some states and cities. In 2020, Oregon voters approved a measure legalizing the therapeutic use of psychedelic mushrooms, and Colorado voters backed a similar one two years later. Several cities have designated psychedelics a low priority for law enforcement, often citing their therapeutic potential.