A major flight attendant union which represents crew members at Alaska Airlines has issued a new alert over the dangers of using magic mushrooms just over a week after one of the carrier’s pilots allegedly tried to down a plane by pulling the emergency engine shutoff handles while high on shrooms.
Magic mushrooms are illegal in much of the United States, but they have been effectively decriminalized in a number of cities and states, including Seattle, where Alaska Airlines is based.
In its new warning to airline crew, the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA-CWA) says its members should be weary of using magic mushrooms because of the risk of experiencing “unwanted psychological effects”.
Alaska Airlines pilot Joseph Emerson, 44, told law enforcement he had used magic mushrooms for the first time and had not slept for at least 40 hours before he tried to disable the engines of flight AS-2059 on October 22, 2023.
While being interviewed by police, Emerson said he pulled the emergency engine shutoff handles because he thought he was dreaming and wanted to wake up.
Magic mushrooms contain the psychedelic compound psilocybin, and in recent years, there has been growing evidence that ‘microdosing’ on this psychoactive substance could have positive effects on mental health and mood.
A lack of standardization, however, makes it hard to accurately control dosage, which could lead to “unintended and unpredictable effects”, according to AFA-CWA, which also represents flight attendants at several other major US carriers, including United Airlines and Frontier.
Psilocybin may also interact with prescribed medications with potentially dangerous physical health effects or cause unintended psychological issues. The effects of microdosing can also be felt very differently from person to person.
Although pilots and flight attendants are subject to mandatory random drug testing, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) does not test for psilocybin, although airlines can and sometimes do perform their own drug tests, which include psychoactive substances.
Earlier this year, the union warned flight attendants about using popular CBD products because they could contain very low levels of THC which would leave to a positive drug test and potential termination.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.