This past week, the National Institutes of Health – the “nation’s medical research agency” administered under the umbrella of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) – created a new webpage entitled Psilocybin for Mental Health and Addiction: What You Need to Know. This is noteworthy because it may very well be the first time that DHHS has acknowledged the potential benefits of psilocybin to the general public.

The webpage provides general information about psilocybin, the psychoactive ingredient found in mushrooms, including what it is, its current legal status, and routine disclaimers. But this webpage also includes a section that discusses whether it is effective to treat alcohol abuse disorder, anxiety and existential distress in serious medical illnesses, and depression. Under each condition at least one study is referenced and every study concluded that psilocybin-assisted therapy may be effective in treating these conditions. For depression, two studies found that psilocybin-assisted therapy can rapidly reduce depression-related symptoms.

Why is this important? It took the federal government decades to recognize and acknowledge the benefits of cannabis, but in 2009 it eventually started to do so and 15 years later, earlier this month, the Drug Enforcement Agency recommended that cannabis be reclassified as a Schedule III substance. Only time will tell but there seems to be more momentum for psilocybin when compared to cannabis’ in the 2010s.