NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – Medical cannabis has been available in New Mexico for years, but could medical mushrooms become the state’s next therapeutic? Some advocates say New Mexico should open the door for legal use of shrooms and psychedelics.

“No, it’s not hippy-dippy stuff from Taos,” said New Mexico Representative Christine Trujillo (D-Albuquerque), as she introduced a presentation from the New Mexico Psychedelic Science Society on Tuesday. The advocacy group met with legislators in a committee hearing to present their case for why New Mexico needs a new law to bring psilocybin to the state.

Psilocybin, a chemical that comes from some types of mushrooms, has shown promise as a therapeutic drug. John Hopkins School of Medicine and Ohio State University researchers, for example, have done research showing that psilocybin can help patients with major depressive disorder. And a 2016 study published in the Journal of Psycopharmacology shows the drug can help cancer patients deal with depression and anxiety.

The benefits led Oregon to legalize the drug back in 2020, the first state to do so. The state is continuing to shape regulatory framework through the end of 2022. But on a federal level, the drug remains illegal, just like cannabis. Now, the New Mexico Psychedelic Science Society is asking legislators to legalize psychedelics, for the health benefits.

“We are struggling within our very own pandemic of severe mental health, illness crises, poverty, and substance abuse disorders that have plagued our land for decades,” Marisa C De Baca, the president of the New Mexico Psychedelic Science Society told legislators Tuesday. “This is why I sit before you.”

The idea will likely bring to mind another drug that was eventually approved for medical, and then recreational use, cannabis. But, Marisa C De Baca is quick to point out a key difference.

“Psilocybin-containing mushrooms,” she said, are “not a cash crop. So the model is efficacy, it’s not so much on its marketable value, but greatly on its health benefit value.” And she said the New Mexico Psychedelic Science Society is not calling for simply another recreational drug.

While the idea of legalizing shrooms might be easy to brush off, Marisa C De Baca asks people to think about the science: “We tend to see the word psychedelics and think that the hippies in the counterculture such as Woodstock,” she said. “But I asked this committee, respectfully, to review large amounts of research conducted by some of the nation’s and world’s most revered and respected institutions and their findings of clinical research that provide us with profound results.”

“These studies show us that these medicines have the potential to be highly effective,” she adds. But, she clarifies that it’s not a panacea.

It’s unclear what many lawmakers thought of Tuesday’s presentation. The committee chose to hold all of its questions and comments for all presentations until the end of the hearing, which is expected to conclude Wednesday.