For thousands of years, magic mushrooms have been used by civilizations to evoke psychedelic and life altering experiences. Despite their safe use since around 9,000 BCE, most countries around the world have enacted laws that ban the possession, sale, and cultivation of the naturally occurring substance.
The Current Legality of Magic Mushrooms in Canada
In Canada, despite current rules under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, laws surrounding magic mushrooms are loosely enforced. Mushroom spore kits and are legal and are sold openly in stores or on the internet as the spores and kits themselves are legal. Psilocybin and psilocin are illegal to possess, obtain or produce without a prescription or license as they are schedule III under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act in Canada.
However, Canadian online dispensaries such as buy shrooms online have been safely and discretely selling magic mushrooms for years. Many of these online dispensaries sell magic mushrooms to Canadians under the premise of medical prescriptions.
In British Columbia, the perception surrounding the cultivation, possession, and sale of naturally occurring “drugs” such as cannabis and magic mushrooms is quite tolerant. In September 2019, a motion to prevent the sale of magic mushrooms was defeated by Vancouver council. The RCMP and Vancouver Police Department have stated that combatting online sale of magic mushrooms is a low priority compared to more serious crimes.
Canada’s laws around psilocybin (the molecule) are mostly congruent with the UN Psychotropic Substances Act, however they classify the substance as schedule III (defined as posing some risks to public health in some situations).
Medical Magic Mushroom Use Use in Canada
Efforts are underway to obtain exemptions for medical and research use under CDSA Section 56. In August 2020 four end-of-life patients received exemption to pursue psilocybin-assisted therapy to help ease anxiety and depression.
Many activists within the psilocybin community foresee the Canadian government legalizing magic mushrooms for the purpose of medical use first, mirroring the path that was seen with cannabis legalization.
The Current Legality of Magic Mushrooms in the United States
In the United States, laws surrounding recreational use of magic mushrooms continue to be strict. In 1970, magic mushrooms were added to the Controlled Substances Act at a Schedule 1 level. The online sale of magic mushrooms is much more limited in places like the United States.
One historically neutral place for magic mushrooms has been Amsterdam in The Netherlands. Up until 2008, magic mushrooms were readily accessible by the general public in “smart shops”, which are similar to headshops in Canada and the United States. On April 25, 2008, the Dutch Government enacted the ban of sale and cultivation of magic mushrooms. However, magic truffles (that have a similar effect) are still technically legal for recreational use.
For a list of all countries and their stance on magic mushrooms, please check out this Wikipedia link: Legal status of psilocybin mushrooms.
The History of Magic Mushrooms
Dating back to around 9,000 BCE, Aztec cave paintings showcase the use of magic mushrooms. This means that for thousands of years, civilisations have been using these organisms for various therapeutic uses. Magic mushrooms were also utilized by ancient civilizations across Europe and elsewhere in the Americas.
Rise in Popularity of Magic Mushrooms
In the 1950’s, a man named R. Gordon Wasson discovered the use of magic mushrooms in Mexico, when a native tribe was using the plants in an ancient ceremony. Wasson brought his experiences back to the United States, where he then shared his findings with the famous Albert Hofmann who was studying LSD at the time for Sandoz Pharmaceuticals.
Over the following 20 years, psilocybin (one of the psychoactive constituents of magic mushrooms) was heavily researched for therapeutic uses. These uses ranged from treating anxiety, depression, alcoholism, schizophrenia, autism, OCD, and a whole other myriad of conditions.
The 1960’s Era
In the 1960’s, the hippie movement brought along with it the use of psychedelic compounds such as magic mushrooms and LSD. Wasson, after being fired from Harvard, began to assist in distributing knowledge about magic mushrooms. With the spread of knowledge, and how to appropriately culture these organisms, popularity exploded.
The 1970’s and The Ban of Magic Mushrooms
In the United States, the year 1970 brought along the permanent ban of magic mushrooms for the general population. The Controlled Substances Act was enacted in 1970, which classified psilocybin and psilocin as Schedule 1 compounds. Compounds that are of this nature are classified as having no medicinal use whatsoever. This caused much of the ongoing research to be halted, as it was no longer legally permitted.
It wasn’t until 2018 that research once again resumed for magic mushrooms. In October of 2018, the Food and Drug Administration in the United States granted Compass Pathways the ability to research magic mushrooms for therapeutic uses. This also sparked John Hopkins University to initialize its Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research facility in 2019.
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