handing out money
Arizona Gives $5 Million To Test Psychedelic Mushrooms On Mentally Ill

June 6, 2023

By Corinne Murdock |

The state of Arizona set aside $5 million to research the impact of psychedelic mushrooms on those suffering from mental illnesses like PTSD and drug addiction.

The funds provided by the Arizona legislature in this past session will go to the Scottsdale Research Institute (SRI), the only Arizona facility authorized by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to grow psilocybin mushrooms. Sue Sisley, SRI president, revealed to ABC 15 that this would be the first study of its kind on human subjects.

“Real natural psilocybin mushrooms have never been evaluated in a controlled trial, can you believe that?” said Sisley. “It works its way into that part of the brain and activates some of the neurocircuits that haven’t been enlivened in a while. It starts to enable the brain to kind of be recalibrated.”

Sisley said that all of the data — both positive and negative — would be published in medical journals for public review. Trials are anticipated to begin within the year. 

Sisley was also known for being the principal investigator for the only Federal Drug Administration (FDA)-approved trial in the world to examine the safety and efficacy of marijuana smoking in combat veterans with severe PTSD. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) granted the approval in March 2014. At the time, Sisley was a professor at the the University of Arizona (UArizona) College of Medicine. 

The DEA gave Sisley approval for another study on the efficacy and safety of marijuana to treat PTSD in April 2016. 

In addition to being licensed for medical-grade cannabis growth, SRI has been licensed to make and issue MDMA and LSD for study.

In 2020, NIDA warned that marijuana usage is linked to an increased risk of earlier onset of psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia. 

Shortly after NIDA’s approval, UArizona terminated Sisley. Sisley claimed that she was terminated by the university for her political activity: specifically, involvement with a recall campaign against then-State Sen. Kimberly Yee, currently the state treasurer. Sisley also claimed that UArizona was opposed to her medicinal marijuana research.

UArizona rejected Sisley’s claims, pointing to legislation they supported the prior year enabling marijuana research to be executed on college campuses. 

“The University of Arizona does not comment on personnel issues. In regard to marijuana research, in general, in 2013, the UA championed state legislation to ensure that universities could perform medical marijuana research on campus,” stated the university. “The UA has not received political pressure to terminate any employee as has been suggested in some media and other reports.”

At the time of the federal research approvals through the present, Sisley has served as a medical director for a medical marijuana dispensary, White Mountain Health. 

All of the mind-altering drugs in Sisley’s research — psilocybin mushrooms, marijuana, LSD, and MDMA — were the basis of study for the CIA’s covert “mind control” experimentation program, MK-ULTRA, and its predecessors: Project Bluebird and Project ARTICHOKE.

These experiments were inspired by Japanese and Nazi doctors’ practices of using mescaline on prisoners in the Auschwitz and Dachau concentration camps. MK-ULTRA consisted of psychological torture, resulting in numerous deaths and permanent mental damage. 

The CIA destroyed most of the documents pertaining to MK-ULTRA in 1973 following the Watergate scandal. About 20,000 documents were spared due to erroneous filing in a financial records building. The following year, The New York Times began to uncover the program, prompting a congressional investigation. 

The researcher that started and ran MK-ULTRA, Sidney Gottlieb, was awarded by the CIA for his work. 

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

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