While plenty of people have been caught doing something illegal while high on psychedelics, a new study indicates that the use of drugs like LSD and magic mushrooms actually decreases the likelihood of committing crimes associated with "antisocial" behavior, like theft or assault.
Researchers at the University of British Columbia and the University of Alabama analyzed data from more than 480,000 people who responded to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, which is administered by the US Department of Health and Human Services. The goal was to study the correlation between Americans who have used psychedelics and past criminal behavior.
The researchers' results, which were published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, indicate that "lifetime" psychedelic use was associated with a decrease in the chances of someone having committed theft, assault, property crime, or other violent crime in the past year. Though the results were based on information that participants voluntarily provided.
Respondents who admitted to being longtime hallucinogen users had a 27 percent lower chance of having committed larceny and 22 percent lower chance of having committed a violent crime in the past 12 months. The study found that other illicit drugs were actually associated with increased odds of committing the same offenses.
"More research is needed to figure out what factors underlie these effects," Zach Walsh, an associate professor at the University of British Columbia and a co-author of the paper, told Science Daily. "But the experiences of unity, positivity, and transcendence that characterize the psychedelic experience may have lasting benefits that translate into real-world consequences."
Psychedelic research in the US was halted in 1970 when the Controlled Substance Act was passed, but restrictions have since loosened slightly. The results of recent studies have shown that psychedelics have promising potential to help address mental illnesses like depression, and can even make rejection a little easier. They've also been used by some to help them quit smoking.
The study did indicate that one crime in particular is more likely to have been committed in the past year by those who reported taking psychedelics: drug dealing.
Related: Inside a Clandestine Mushroom Lab