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Mushrooms Are Everyone’s Favorite Psychedelic, According to Data

The RAND Corporation reports that psilocybin mushrooms are overwhelmingly the most popular psychedelic, followed by MDMA in second place and LSD in third.

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Magic mushrooms have overwhelmingly become the most-used psychedelic drug in the US, according to a new report, which estimated that 8 million adults may have consumed psilocybin in 2023, about 3 percent of the American public.

MDMA was the second most popular psychedelic in terms of usage over 2023, with LSD ranking a close third. DMT and mescaline, the psychedelic derived from peyote and San Pedro, followed. Ibogaine and 5-MeO-DMT, understandably, given the intensity of the experience they bring, lagged far behind the others.

In terms of lifetime use, psilocybin, the main psychedelic within magic mushrooms, also ranked first, with LSD a fraction behind. The report did not rank ketamine, which is arguably not psychedelic, though it may be more popular than psilocybin. A previous study estimated that some 5.5 million US adults used psychedelics in 2019.

READ: 4-AcO-DMT Is the Most Accessible (and Mysterious) Drug on the Market Right Now

“As we can see, the US, like many other places around the world, is turning to shit,” says educator and mycologist Darren LeBaron. “Who better than the mushrooms to emerge in this season of need to help clean up this mess?”

“Mushrooms are fun, enlightening, extremely safe, and relatively cheap,” said Dana Larsen, the owner of two psychedelics dispensaries in Vancouver, Canada. “No wonder they are growing in popularity as more people experience the benefits for themselves. We sell more mushrooms than anything else.”

Some 47% of people who reported past year use of psilocybin mushrooms said they microdosed the last time they consumed the fungus. Separate research released in June found that internet searches on micrdosing increased 1,250% since 2015, with searches for psilocybin outpacing LSD from 2019.

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Mushrooms are easier to microdose than acid and the popularity of LSD appears to be declining in line with the shroom boom. Global rates of LSD use were around equal with mushrooms in 2021, the last time the Global Drug Survey was published, after years of acid being the preeminent psychedelic worldwide.

“LSD is such a potent drug,” Adam Winstock, the founder of the survey, previously told The Guardian. “It’s so difficult to dose accurately when tabs you buy vary so widely. It’s easy to take too much and have an experience beyond the one you were expecting.”

Mescaline is difficult to source, and also has a long lasting effect, while the euphoric rush of MDMA diminishes with regular use. DMT and 5-MeO-DMT are not generally seen as social psychedelics, though vape pens containing lower concentrations of the psychedelics are emerging.

“We’ve found that psilocybin use has increased a lot, more than most other drugs,” Joseph Palamar, an epidemiologist at NYU Langone Health, told NPR of the New York party scene, a bellwether for national trends. “I think that’s interesting because I usually think of ecstasy and ketamine, I never thought of shrooms as being a big party drug.”

The report was produced by the RAND Corporation, a non-profit think tank which analyzed a 3,800-person survey on drug use, along with official data. The survey data suggests that among all American adults, cannabis was used for a total of 650 million days last year, whereas the figure for all psychedelics, which are used less frequently, was 7 million.

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It follows research which suggests the consumption of psychedelics by young adults doubled between 2018 and 2021, with around 8% using a psychedelic in 2021, the highest recorded figure since the 1980s, according to a study released last year. “It’s really difficult to explain these trends,” study co-author Megan Patrick told The Hill of the findings. “We have some guesses, but we don’t really know yet.” 

The data analyzed by RAND suggested that 31.7 million Americans have used psilocybin in their lifetime, narrowly ahead of the 31.5 million it estimated have tried LSD. Fewer than 1% of adults had used any psychedelic in the month before they were surveyed, but psilocybin was the most commonly used, the report said.

“People are hungry for connection in the post-pandemic world,” says Dennis Walker, of the Mycopreneur podcast, “and mushrooms can facilitate that connection on multiple fronts.”

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