Steve Shorney is a serious man, quiet and thoughtful. But the first time he took psilocybin he could not stop laughing. “I’ve never felt so much joy,” the 64-year-old says, recounting his participation in a clinical trial of the active ingredient in magic mushrooms. “It was the most extraordinary experience. I spent a lot of that session laughing in astonishment. All those big questions that one tends to ask about the meaning of life, the universe and everything — those questions were answered in the most colourful, psychedelic way you could imagine.”

Shorney’s second trip, two weeks later, was less happy. “It was pretty dark,” he says. “I spent a lot of the time crying. I had to deal with the sort of things that

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