Indiana Nurse Faces a Decade in Prison for Microdosing Mushrooms
A nurse may face a decade in prison for selling shrooms, even though she was only microdosing them herself as a treatment for depression.
Published on July 12, 2022

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An Indiana woman could be locked behind bars for a decade, just because she was microdosing psilocybin mushrooms as a treatment for major depression. 

Jessica Thornton, a neonatal intensive care nurse and mother of five, has been suffering from treatment-resistant depression since her senior year in high school. For two decades, psychiatrists attempted to treat her symptoms with pretty much every antidepressant that has ever been invented, but these pharmaceuticals caused serious side effects and brought little relief.

“I’ve been on many antidepressants: Paxil, Prozac, Celexa, Lexapro, Wellbutrin, Effexor, Abilify, Cymbalta, Trazodone, Remeron, and Pristiq,” said Thornton to Psychedelic Spotlight. “The medications all seemed to make me feel like I was living inside a box... I wasn’t happy, and I wasn’t sad. I was just numb. The meds would also make me drip sweat, feel anxious, and I was unable to orgasm.”

Since these pharmaceutical treatments proved to be so ineffective, Thornton chose to seek out a natural alternative. After reading some of the recent news reports and research on psilocybin and depression, she decided to try it out for herself. Psilocybin is completely illegal in Indiana, of course, and since this working mom had no idea where to buy some, she started growing it herself. Before long, she was processing her home-grown shrooms into a highly effective natural antidepressant. 

“It took a few months of microdosing 3-4 times a week and titrating to find the right dosage,” Thornton told Psychedelic Spotlight. “I stacked the psilocybin with Lion’s Mane and niacin. Then one day, after about three months of following this protocol, I found myself examining my surroundings –the cold air of an Indiana winter– and thought to myself, this is a beautiful world after all... I noticed nature. I felt like I could breathe easily. I remember the feeling that the world could be anything I wanted it to be, and I could achieve my dreams because I didn’t feel the hatred and disgust I had been feeling.”

Dozens of clinical research trials have confirmed that these positive changes are not just a placebo effect. One recent study reports that two sessions of psilocybin-assisted therapy can significantly reduce depression symptoms for an entire year, and other studies have reported that this novel therapy can reduce anxiety for as long as five years. Based on the strength of this research, Oregon legalized psilocybin therapy in 2020, and many other states are now working to launch similar programs.

Sadly, Indiana is not one of those states. After receiving a tip-off that she was cultivating illegal drugs, cops raided Thornton's home and discovered her shroom garden. And although she was only cultivating psilocybin for her own personal use, cops charged her with dealing a scheduled substance. This excessive charge is due to Indiana's mandatory minimum laws, which require prosecutors to charge anyone with over 28 grams of shrooms with felony intent to sell. Thornton was also charged with felony child endangerment because she was growing the shrooms in the house where her kids lived.

With her source of natural medicine destroyed, Thornton switched to ketamine, a dissociative anesthetic that has also proved to be an effective treatment for serious depression. Unlike psilocybin, ketamine can be legally prescribed anywhere in the US, but the treatments only last for two weeks and cost around $500 per session. But even these treatments can't dispel the depression and anxiety caused by the brutal police raid. Thornton has been charged with two felonies and may face up to a decade in prison.

“My whole world came crashing down on me just as I was starting to feel better at life,” said Thornton to Psychedelic Spotlight. “I’ve now lost everything. My children were taken away from me. I have to have supervised visits. My nursing license is on the line, and I don’t know if I can get it back. I don’t know if I’ll be able to get a job again if I’m convicted as a felon.”

“The thought of being locked up for years, just wasting away –I can be so much more productive than that,” she added. “I still have so much to offer.  I have so many goals and dreams, and I need to raise my children.”

Chris Moore
Chris Moore is a New York-based writer who has written for Mass Appeal while also mixing records and producing electronic music.
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