ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The Psychedelic Society of Eastern New York gathered for its inaugural Psychedelic Sunday meeting at Emack & Bolio’s ice cream shop. The progressive and perhaps controversial group of individuals from the Capital Region met to discuss emerging science around psychedelic compounds.

Attendees of the first Psychedelic Sunday congregation believe psychedelic substances are powerful mental health tools that offer legitimate routes to better health and wellbeing in area communities. “I’d love to see mental health professionals take an interest in adding another tool to their belt when helping patients,” said founder Karissa Doerr, 26, of Albany.

One member of the society, who suffers from treatment-resistant depression, sees psychedelics as a potential alternative treatment option. The Food and Drug Administration agrees, twice naming the use of psilocybin—the psychoactive component of “magic mushrooms”—a “breakthrough therapy” for treating major depressive disorder.

Pioneering research in its third phase of trials with the FDA evaluates the safety and effectiveness of using MDMA—called molly or ecstasy—to treat post-traumatic stress disorders.

Psychedelics have had a banner year in New York, with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) filing legislation this summer—since rejected by the House—to remove legal barriers that cut funding and make studying the medical benefits of psilocybin, MDMA, and marijuana unnecessarily difficult for scientists.

Per Ocasio-Cortez, these schedule I substances have “shown promise in end of life therapy and treating PTSD.” The FDA backs speeding up research and approval of psilocybin, a hallucinogenic substance currently in clinical trials for patients whose resistant depression did not improve with mainstream antidepressants.

Careful to articulate that they neither condone nor condemn drug use, the Psychedelic Society encourages informed decision-making about responsible use of psychoactive substances that trigger sacred experiences. The society advocates for drug policy initiatives and ethical access to substance-assisted therapy.

It sees protecting experimenting college students and expanding harm reduction services at music and arts festivals as necessary to better understand the healing properties of these drugs. They argue for integrating spiritual experiences with mental health practice and decriminalizing plant medicines locally.

Communities have turned to mind-altering experiences religiously, medically, and recreationally for generations, and experts argue for improved education and resources. The current psychedelic renaissance is the largest surge of studies and trials since prohibition as part of the war on drugs.

Contact the society directly to join or add your voice to the discussion.