Are Shrooms Legal?

Learn about the varying laws around the possession, cultivation, and sale of magic mushrooms to stay informed and make responsible decisions.

Overview: Magic mushrooms, or shrooms, contain the psychoactive compound psilocybin, which is converted into the active metabolite psilocin in the body. Psilocybin mushrooms have a long history of use in indigenous cultures and are now being researched for their therapeutic potential. Shrooms can induce emotional, perceptual, cognitive, and self-related effects, but their impact can vary depending on dosage, individual factors, and set and setting. Possessing, selling, or growing shrooms is illegal in many places, with varying legal statuses worldwide. Some cities and states in the US have decriminalized or legalized psilocybin, and Oregon and Colorado allow therapeutic use. Psilocybin has received breakthrough therapy status for treating depression in the US. Shroom spore kits are legal in most US states but may be restricted in some areas. Growing or possessing psilocybin mushrooms is illegal in many jurisdictions, and legal consequences can occur. It is important to research and understand the legal status before using or cultivating magic mushrooms.

What are Shrooms?

Shrooms, also known as “magic mushrooms,” are a type of mushroom of the genus Psilocybe that contain the psychoactive compound psilocybin. Indigenous cultures, particularly the Mazatec people of Oaxaca, Mexico, have used the psycho-spiritual properties of Psilocybe mushrooms throughout history.

Psilocybin itself is in fact biologically inactive. When ingested however, psilocybin is converted into its active metabolite (a substance produced during metabolism) psilocin. Unlike psilocybin, psilocin is fat-soluble, meaning it can cross the blood-brain barrier where it activates a certain type of serotonin brain receptor called the 5-HT2A receptor and induces psychedelic effects, including alterations in perception, emotion, cognition, and sense of self.

In recent years, there has been a surge of interest in psilocybin and magic mushrooms for their potential therapeutic benefits. Many researchers are investigating the potential of these to treat various health conditions such as end-of-life anxiety, depression, and substance use disorders.

There are over 180 species growing worldwide. Many of these can be found in local forests and even backyards. If you're considering foraging and using magic mushrooms for reasons such as self-medication, spiritual exploration, or recreation, it's beneficial to learn about their history, growing conditions, physical traits, psychoactive effects, and potential risks.

It is also crucial to understand the legal status of shrooms before use. Possessing, selling, or growing them is against the law in many places, and the consequences can be severe.

The Subjective Effects of Magic Mushrooms

The study of psychedelic drugs has a long and complex history, with many theories attempting to explain their effects on the human mind. One article published in 2018, titled 'Unifying Theories of Psychedelic Drug Effects', provides a comprehensive review of these theories and highlights key concepts that have endured over the past 125.

The article suggests that the effects of psychedelic drugs are complex and multifaceted, influencing perception, emotion, cognition, and even the sense of self.

Emotional Effects of Shrooms:

Magic mushrooms can induce a range of emotions, including euphoria, happiness, empathy, and introspection. These emotions can be intense and profound, and they can also be accompanied by a sense of awe and wonder. Some users may also experience negative emotions, such as anxiety, paranoia, confusion, or fear.

Perceptual Effects of Shrooms:

Magic mushrooms can alter perception in various ways, such as intensified visual and auditory perception, alterations in time and space perception, vivid mental imagery, and synesthesia, which is the experience of one sense triggering another, such as seeing sounds or hearing colors.

Cognitive Effects of Shrooms:

Magic mushrooms can cause changes in cognition, including changes in thinking patterns, flexibility of mind, increased creativity and insight, greater attribution of meaning to external stimuli, and a sense of expanded consciousness.

Users may experience a meaningful shift in perspective, and many report having profound spiritual experiences.

Effects of Shrooms on Sense of Self:

Magic mushrooms can also impact one's sense of self, including ego dissolution, which is the experience of feeling as though one's sense of self is dissolving or disappearing altogether. This can lead to feelings of unity with others or with the universe, and some users report feeling a greater sense of connection to the world around them.

The perceptual, cognitive, and emotional effects of psychedelics are also tightly linked. 

It is worth noting that the effects of magic mushrooms can vary significantly depending on factors such as dosage and individual physiology, as well as “set and setting,” that is, the physical and social environment in which the experience takes place, and the user's mindset and expectations upon ingestion.

Additionally, the use of magic mushrooms can carry risks, such as adverse psychological effects. The risks associated with psychedelic use highlight the importance of responsible and controlled use, under the guidance of a trusted friend or trained professionals. 

Are Shrooms Legal?

As mentioned above, shrooms contain psilocybin, which is a Schedule I controlled substance in the United States and the equivalent of a Schedule I substance in many other countries, including Canada (Schedule III), the UK (Class A), and Ireland (Schedule I). This means that it is illegal to possess, use, or sell shrooms without a valid prescription or license.

Consuming magic mushrooms can lead to legal consequences, including fines and imprisonment if done in a country or state where they are illegal. Additionally, possessing or using magic mushrooms can have long-term consequences, such as a criminal record or difficulty obtaining employment in the future.

Importantly, the legality of magic mushrooms varies by country and even by state or province within a country.

An interesting example of this is the situation in the Netherlands, where the possession and sale of fresh and dried psilocybin-containing mushrooms have been illegal since 2008. However, psilocybin truffles, also known as “magic truffles” and “philosopher's stones,” which contain the same psychoactive compound as psilocybin mushrooms, are legal and sold in smart shops across the country.

The legality of shrooms can vary widely depending on the jurisdiction. Therefore, it is important to research and understand their legal status before deciding to use them.

Decriminalization of Shrooms in the United States 

Magic mushrooms have been decriminalized in certain parts of the United States. The cities of Denver, Oakland, Santa Cruz, Ann Arbor, Washington D.C., Somerville, Cambridge, Northampton, Detroit, and Seattle have all decriminalized psilocybin-containing mushrooms, meaning that law enforcement has been instructed to deprioritize enforcement of laws against possession and use of the substance.

However, it is important to note that even in these cities, it is still illegal to sell, distribute, or manufacture shrooms without a valid license or prescription.

Legal Therapeutic Use of Shrooms 

Oregon made history in 2020 by becoming the first state to both decriminalize psilocybin and legalize it for therapeutic use through Ballot Measure 109. This means that, while it is still illegal to use psilocybin recreationally in Oregon, it is legal for licensed therapists to administer the substance to patients in controlled settings.

Colorado followed suit in 2022 with Ballot Measure 122, which also decriminalized psilocybin and legalized it for therapeutic use. These measures represent a significant shift in the way that psilocybin is viewed and regulated in the United States, and they have the potential to provide patients with new treatment options for a variety of mental health conditions.

In the Province of Alberta, Canada, all psychedelics, including psilocybin mushrooms, were recently made legal and regulated for medicinal use. While Australia recently became the first country to officially recognize psychedelics as medicines by approving the medical use of psilocybin for treatment-resistant depression and MDMA for PTSD.

Psilocybin’s “Breakthrough Therapy” Status in the US

In 2018, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted breakthrough status to psilocybin, specifically for its potential in treating major depressive disorder (MDD), and again in 2019 for treatment-resistant depression (TRD). This designation made psilocybin eligible for an accelerated review process and prompted the FDA to work closely with researchers and drug companies to facilitate clinical trials and other studies.

While breakthrough status does not guarantee that psilocybin will be approved as a treatment for MDD or any other condition, it does suggest that the FDA views the substance as having significant potential for helping patients in need. It is estimated that psilocybin-assisted therapy could be approved in the US as soon as 2025.

The increased interest in psychedelic medicine coincides with a crucial moment when traditional treatments are struggling to address the growing rates of anxiety, depression, and substance addiction

The Legal Status of Magic Mushroom Spore Kits 

A shroom spore kit is a container that contains everything you need to grow your own magic mushrooms. It typically includes spores, substrate, and instructions on how to grow the mushrooms.

In the US, it is legal to sell shroom spore kits in most US states, but selling them with the purpose of producing psilocybin-containing mushrooms is illegal. There are specific prohibitions on the sale and possession of magical mushroom spore kits in California, Georgia, and Idaho. 

In certain jurisdictions, such as Canada, Australia, the UK, Ireland, and the Netherlands, it is legal to sell and possess shroom spore kits as they do not contain psilocybin or psilocin. However, it is important to keep in mind that once the spores are germinated and start producing psilocybin, they instantly become illegal.

Most jurisdictions consider cultivating psilocybin mushrooms to be drug manufacture, resulting in severe penalties. Nonetheless, some countries and the US state of New Mexico have determined that growing psilocybin mushrooms does not qualify as the “manufacture” of a controlled substance.

The Legal Landscape of Magic Mushrooms: Take Home Points

This renewed interest in psychedelic medicine comes at a time when traditional antidepressants and other medications are showing limited efficacy for certain mental health conditions and their associated symptoms, leading researchers and clinicians to explore alternative approaches. While antidepressants can be helpful for some people, studies have shown that they may be ineffective for others and that alternative treatments should also be considered.

With the growing interest in psychedelic medicine, it is expected that further research will uncover the full potential of psilocybin and psilocybin-containing magic mushrooms as a new and effective treatment option for various health conditions.

With the legal status of psychedelic substances being in flux in many places around the world, more people are turning to foraging or growing their own magic mushrooms. This is driven by a desire to experience the potentially transformative effects of psychedelics for therapeutic or spiritual purposes, as well as a need to ensure access to these substances in an uncertain legal landscape.

However, it is important to note that growing or possessing magic mushrooms is illegal in many jurisdictions, and individuals should carefully research the legal status of these substances in their location before engaging in such activities to avoid any legal consequences.

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