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This week, Johns Hopkins Medicine was awarded a grant from the National Institutes of Health to research the potential impacts of psilocybin on tobacco addiction. 

It is the first NIH grant awarded for the direct investigation of a classic psychedelic in over 50 years. 

Johns Hopkins will lead the study of psilocybin – the active ingredient found in magic mushrooms – in collaboration with the University of Alabama at Birmingham and New York University.

The three-year study will take place simultaneously at the three universities to gather a wide range of participants. 

The grant, funded by NIH’s National Institute on Drug Abuse, is nearly $4 million. 

Research on the therapeutic potential of psychedelics like psilocybin and LSD has gained popularity over the last 20 years. 

Recent studies have shown that psilocybin may be used as a therapy to treat major depression, PTSD, drug addiction, and other anxiety disorders.

Last year, Johns Hopkins published a study that examined the impact of psilocybin therapy on people with major depression.

The study found that two-thirds of the participants experienced a 50% reduction in depression symptoms at the end of one week.

After one month, more than 50% of participants were considered in remission, meaning they no longer qualified as depressed.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins began testing the impact of psilocybin on tobacco addiction 13 years ago. 

A pilot study published in 2014 showed promising results, demonstrating the potential for psilocybin therapy to help people quit smoking.

The new study will continue this line of research. 

“The historical importance of this grant is monumental,” Matthew Johnson, Susan Hill Ward Professor in Psychedelics and Consciousness at Johns Hopkins Medicine, said in a statement. 

“We knew it was only a matter of time before the NIH would fund this work because the data are so compelling, and because this work has demonstrated to be safe,” Johnson said.