As magic mushrooms make the shift from recreational drug to mental health treatment, patients won’t be eating caps and stems, but a synthetic product made in a lab—one that can be patented and profited from.

This article appears in VICE Magazine’s Means of Production issue. Conceived of pre-COVID-19 and constructed during it, it explores the organization and ownership of our world.

In 1955, a bank executive and a New York society photographer found themselves in a thatch-roofed adobe home in a remote village in the Mazateca mountains. Gordon Wasson, then a vice president at J.P. Morgan, had been learning about the use of mushrooms in different cultures, and tracked down a Mazatec healer, or curandera, named María Sabina. Sabina, about 60 at the time, had been taking hallucinogenic mushrooms since she was a young child . She led Wasson and the photographer, Allan Richardson, through a mushroom ceremony called the velada.

“We chewed and swallowed these acrid mushrooms, saw visions, and emerged from the experience awestruck,” Wasson wrote in a Life magazine article, “Seeking the Magic Mushroom.” “We had come from afar to attend a mushroom rite but had expected nothing so staggering as the virtuosity of the performing curanderas and the astonishing effects of the mushrooms.”

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Get Ready for Pharmaceutical-Grade Magic Mushroom Pills

Get Ready for Pharmaceutical-Grade Magic Mushroom Pills