GOVERNMENT Senator Dr Saphire Longmore says Jamaica has great potential to capitalise on the emerging psilocybin (magic mushrooms) industry for medical/spiritual purposes.
"There are a lot of foreigners who are coming in with a lot of monies to… Jamaica for that reason. There is a huge potential of spiritual health as a tourist product and we must seek to develop this," she said while making her contribution to the State of the Nation Debate in the Senate last Friday.
Longmore further argued that, "Jamaica is naturally poised to take that industry to its highest," but cautioned that there needs to be a formalisation of the industry.
"Let us make sure there are standards of operation, standards of therapeutic application. We cannot have it that persons just freely take this thing — it has negative effects," she said.
"This is a substance that can be abused but we must recognise that it also has significant good healing potential," she added.
Longmore said Jamaica must not miss the opportunity to develop the psilocybin industry as it did with cannabis. "Let us not go the route of the cannabis industry where we are not at our peak when we naturally had it," she said.
Known to be an illegal recreational drug, magic mushrooms contain psilocybin, the main psychedelic compound found in more than 200 species of fungi (mushrooms). Psychedelics are a class of hallucinogenic substances that produce changes in perception, mood and cognitive processes.
The compound has been used for therapeutic and spiritual purposes by cultures around the world for thousands of years.
Research has found that extracts from mushrooms can treat psychiatric and psychosomatic illnesses. Psilocybin has been used to treat ailments such as chemical dependency, obsessive compulsive disorder, cluster headaches, and other psychological disorders.
In July last year, then Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Floyd Green said that the Government had put in place interim protocols to facilitate the cultivation and processing of psilocybin mushrooms in Jamaica.
"What we have been doing with the team is really looking at how can those who want to participate in the industry at least know the protocols that are involved. We have been putting in interim protocols for people who want to interact [with the industry] — you would go through our plant quarantine division just as you would if you are trying to import any plant into Jamaica," he said at the inaugural CanEx Psychedelics Summit in St James.
Green, who is now minister without portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister, said Jamaica has never promulgated laws to make psilocybin illegal in the country, therefore it is legal to grow magic mushrooms in Jamaica.