Magic mushrooms are still considered controlled substances in most parts of the world, making them illegal. While this may seem disheartening for people looking for alternative treatments for their conditions, more and more people are throwing their support behind more scientific research to determine whether psilocybin mushrooms can provide some help to a variety of conditions ranging from treatment-resistant depression and post-traumatic stress disorder to smoking cessation.
In this article, you will learn where you can get magic mushrooms without fear of prosecution as well as the current legal status of shrooms in various parts of the United States.
United Nations Convention on Psychotropic Drugs
But before listing the areas where magic mushrooms are legal, it is worthwhile to learn why hallucinogenic mushrooms became controlled substances in the first place.
Various civilizations have been using psilocybin mushrooms for thousands of years for different purposes, ranging from medicinal use to religious purposes. Fast-forward to today, many psychedelic substances have been classified as illicit drugs.
This was not always the case, especially in the United States. During the fifties, most psychedelic drugs, including psilocybin-containing mushrooms weren't classified as hard drugs.
In fact, psychedelics like magic mushrooms piqued the curiosity of scientists because of their potential use for treating various mental health disorders. As far back as the early sixties, recreational drug use was widespread. And although the use of psychedelics wasn't exactly encouraged, it wasn't frowned upon.
But around 1965, the public perception of recreational drug use took a turn for the negative. With the shift in public opinion, psychedelic drugs like magic mushrooms were banned in the United States. And with the United Nations Convention on Psychotropic Drugs, more countries followed suit.
The classification of psilocybin as a controlled substance is baffling for a variety of reasons.
For starters, Schedule I substances are classified as such because they do not have any accepted therapeutic use in the United States. Additionally, these substances have a high potential for abuse.
When it comes to magic mushrooms, both arguments are downright false. Even before the United Nations Convention on Psychotropic Drugs, scientists have been investigating the potential of psilocybin mushrooms for mental health treatment.
On top of that, psilocybin mushrooms aren't addicting and are non-toxic. The purported psychological risks of using shrooms aren't that high.
Why Are Magic Mushrooms Illegal?
Magic mushrooms have been banned for close to 50 years, due in large part to the United Nations Convention on Psychotropic Substances. This international treaty was enforced formally in 1971 with the goal of stopping the sales, distribution, production, and use of magic mushrooms and similar substances. To date, about 180 countries have thrown their support to this treaty.
However, the United Nations does not actually enforce this treaty due to the logistics involved. Ultimately, it is up to the member countries to create the measures and provide the necessary resources to enforce the treaty.
Psilocybin mushrooms in the United States
America was one of the first countries to support the UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances through the amendment of the Food, Drug, and Narcotics Act or the Staggers-Dodd Bill in 1968.
With this amendment, the United States officially banned the possession of psilocybin and psilocin. But it will take a few years before the country strictly enforced the ban with the passage of the Controlled Substances Act in 1971. For many experts, this signaled the start of the country's war on drugs.
Essentially, the CSA categorized various substances, including psilocybin mushrooms and heroin as Schedule I substances which means that they have no therapeutic use and have a high risk for drug abuse.
This runs counter to the scientific data available during that time. In fact, some studies dating before the CSA show that magic mushrooms have the potential to treat a diverse array of medical and mental health conditions.
According to some historians and political analysts, then-president Richard Nixon pushed for the ban of psychedelics under the pretense of public safety. But the reality was that he was trying to divert public attention and suppress political opposition.
But the ban on psilocin and psilocybin didn't exactly stop people from consuming magic mushrooms. In fact, most states in America allowed the sale of magic mushroom spores, enabling psychonauts to cultivate shrooms at the convenience of their homes.
But despite the persistence of the ban on psilocybin mushrooms, support for their legalization is fast gaining traction in various states and cities. For example, the people of Denver, through a ballot initiative in 2019, declared that people cannot be arrested or prosecuted for possession of mushrooms for personal use.
In the same vein, the people of Oakland, California, through their city council, passed a resolution similar to the one in Denver. Essentially, this resolution prevents the arrest of people possessing psilocybin mushrooms, ayahuasca, peyote, and other entheogenic plants.
In 2020, Santa Cruz, California moved to decriminalize magic mushrooms through a resolution. Other cities like New York and Chicago have similar initiatives calling for the decriminalization of psilocybin mushrooms.
Certainly, decriminalization is just one step. Advocates want to push for the legalization of magic mushrooms, especially for the treatment of various conditions. Oregon has led the charge in this area with states like Florida and Maine expected to follow suit. It certainly helps that the FDA has given psilocybin therapy the status of breakthrough therapy which will hopefully fast-track the development of this type of treatment.
Psilocybin mushrooms in Europe
The United Kingdom launched its own version of the War on Drugs in 1971. Before that, there were efforts to prohibit the use of recreational drugs, including marijuana, heroin, and cocaine.
During the sixties, recreational drug use wasn't much of a concern because most people were smoking cannabis and other substances were hard to come by. But during the sixties, the use of illicit drugs skyrocketed as new substances became available to the British people, including psilocybin mushrooms.
In response to the increasing consumption of recreational drugs and the influx of new substances, the United Kingdom enacted the Misuse of Drugs Act in 1971. The MDA was patterned after the United Nations Single Convention on Narcotics and classified illicit drugs into three categories.
Psilocin was put in class A along with methamphetamine and heroin. This meant that these drugs were considered the most dangerous and harmful.
But the MDA was far from foolproof. For one, although the act prohibited psilocin, it was possible for an individual to buy shroom spores because they did not contain psilocin. Second, the act put stringent punishment on the sale and possession of magic mushrooms that were prepared for use. This meant that you can sell and use unprepared psilocybin mushrooms.
However, the United Kingdom plugged all these loopholes in 2005 by banning all psilocybin mushroom strains. That meant that the sale of magic mushrooms and their spores will be meted with a lifetime prison sentence.
For decades, the Netherlands has taken a liberal stance on illicit drugs, including cannabis and psilocybin mushrooms. The country's policy on drugs has been anchored on public health. This meant that you are more likely to be fined when caught with a small amount of drugs instead of getting a prison sentence.
In 1976, the country amended its Opium Act which banned psilocybin and psilocin. However, the ban did not cover fresh magic mushrooms. As such, you can buy psilocybin mushrooms from smart shops.
However, things changed in 2008 when the government changed its stance on psilocybin mushrooms as a result of the death of a French student who died under the influence of shrooms in 2007.
The death of the French student sparked public outrage, prompting Dutch authorities to amend the Opium Act by adding 186 magic mushroom strains to the list of banned substances.
However, magic truffles are still sold openly in the country. Truffles are the part of the mushroom that grows below the ground. They also contain psilocybin. However, psychonauts say that the effects of truffles are milder.
Decriminalization vs. Legalization
No conversation about psilocybin mushrooms will be complete without touching on the difference between legalization and decriminalization. With many American states and cities decriminalizing psilocybin mushrooms, it is easy to confuse one for the other. However, there are a few key differences between the two that you ought to know.
With the legalization of a substance, the penalties for possession and personal use are removed. One example of that is alcohol.
Along with legalization comes a stringent set of rules pertaining to production, sales, and consumption. When the existing regulations related to production, sales, and consumption are violated, civil or criminal penalties are meted out.
In the case of liquor, businesses must get pertinent licenses for sales and production. There are also age restrictions to prohibit sales to minors.
When substances like psilocybin mushrooms are decriminalized, it means that possession and use won't be criminally charged.
In most instances, criminal charges are replaced with civil penalties. Civil penalties may include fines and undergoing treatment programs. Additionally, civil cases do not usually go through the traditional court system. Additionally, these cases aren't recorded as criminal cases which means that they won't affect your employment and housing opportunities.
The decriminalization route treats drugs use from a health and social concern viewpoint instead of a moral or criminal justice perspective. Decriminalization reduces the stigma around drug use and encourages people to seek help.
On top of these, decriminalization benefits law enforcement agencies and the courts by reducing their workloads. When you decriminalize possession and use of psilocybin mushrooms, they become the lowest law enforcement priority, enabling police forces and courts to focus on more pressing issues.
It should be underscored that decriminalization is not the same as legalization. Even if psilocybin drugs are decriminalized, their possession and use are still illegal.
Where Are Psilocybin Mushrooms Legal?
The legal status of psilocybin mushrooms is continuously changing, with some countries and American states and cities changing their stance on these fungi. Here is a brief rundown of places in America where psilocybin mushrooms are legal.
It is worth mentioning that from a federal standpoint, magic mushrooms are still classified as Schedule I substances which means that they have no accepted medical use. That may soon change with the FDA giving psilocybin-assisted therapy the designation of a breakthrough therapy. Some experts are predicting that doctors may be able to prescribe psilocybin drugs in a few years.
In November 2022, Colorado became the second state to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms with the passage of the Natural Medicine Health Act through a ballot measure.
The act calls for the creation of state-regulated healing centers where people can go for psilocybin-assisted therapy under the guidance of trained facilitators. Additionally, the act has legalized the personal use and cultivation of magic mushrooms as well as other substances, including DMT, mescaline, and ibogaine. However, retail sales of these substances aren't permitted.
Cambridge, Easthampton, Northampton, and Somerville, four cities in Massachusetts have voted to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms. Somerville started the ball rolling with a measure to decriminalize entheogenic plants in 2021. Cambridge followed with a similar resolution the following month. Northampton and Easthampton followed a few months later.
Oregon's Measure 109 legalized psilocybin mushrooms through guided sessions. If you are 21 years old, you can go to a licensed service center and use psilocybin mushrooms under the guidance of a trained facilitator.
The state has also decriminalized personal possession of 12 grams or less of magic mushrooms through Measure 110. Possession of psilocybin mushrooms can result in a citation and a fine of up to $100. However, the cultivation and sale of psilocybin mushrooms are still considered illegal.
The Texas state legislature funded trials for the evaluation of psilocybin drugs and their potential to treat PTSD among veteran soldiers.
San Francisco, California
In 2022, the San Francisco city council voted to decriminalize psychedelic substances, including psilocybin mushrooms. Additionally, the city council encouraged its police force to put cultivation, distribution, and possession of magic mushrooms among its lowest law enforcement priority.
With the passage of Ordinance 301 in 2019, Denver became the first American city to decriminalize shrooms. This has inspired activists around the nation to push for the decriminalization and legalization of entheogenic plants in other parts of the country.
After Denver's passage of Ordinance 301, Oakland followed suit by decriminalizing a number of psychedelic substances including psilocybin mushrooms.
Santa Cruz, California
Santa Cruz's city council voted to decriminalize entheogenic plants in 2020. Aside from that, the city council encouraged its police to put the possession and sale of these substances as the lowest law enforcement priority.
Through DC Initiative 81, Washington DC decriminalized psychedelic substances including psilocybin mushrooms.
In 2021, Seattle's city council passed a resolution decriminalizing psilocybin mushrooms and making them the lowest priority for law enforcement units in the city.
Residents of Detroit voted in favor of Proposal E in 2021. This measure decriminalized entheogenic plants, including magic mushrooms.
Port Townsend, Washington
Following Seattle's measure to decriminalize magic mushrooms, Port Townsend voted for the passage of Resolution 21-088 in 2021.
Outside the United States
Psilocybin mushrooms are still illegal in Canada. However, patients can gain access through three pathways. The country's Special Access Program enables patients with end-of-life anxiety and treatment-resistant depression to access psilocybin.
Health Canada also grants an s. 56 exemption for medical or scientific use. The CDSA exemption can also be granted on a case-to-case basis. Canadians can also join clinical trials to gain access to psilocybin-assisted treatments.
In 2022, the province of Alberta approved the legalization of psychedelic-assisted therapy. With this legalization, patients can gain access to psychedelics like psilocybin mushrooms for the treatment of mental health conditions under the supervision of trained and licensed professionals.
On top of that, various shops selling magic mushrooms have popped up in various locations in British Columbia and Ontario.
In San Jose del Pacifico and Huautla de Jimenez in Mexico, people can buy magic mushrooms. In other parts of the country, some establishments have begun offering psilocybin retreats.
In the Netherlands, magic truffles are available in smart shops while magic mushrooms have become illegal.
In Thailand, authorities have begun to look into legalizing psilocybin mushrooms after reforming its laws on cannabis. Previously, food infused with magic mushrooms was openly sold in restaurants.
While Jamaica has been associated with marijuana use, it has also taken strides in legalizing psychedelics. For one, there are numerous psychedelic retreats in the country. Second, Field Trip Health has linked up with the University of West Indies to conduct research on using and cultivating psilocybin mushrooms. The goal of the partnership is to produce magic mushrooms on a commercial level while establishing Jamaica as a center for psychedelic wellness.
St. Vincent and Grenadines is also trying to position itself as a center for psychedelic wellness. In 2020, the Caribbean island legalized the production, transport, and research of psychedelics. It also initiated the Medicinal Wellness Feasibility study which seeks to investigate the potential benefits of psychedelics for health and wellness.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are mushrooms legal?
At the federal level, magic mushrooms remain illegal in the United States. However, there are some states and cities that have decriminalized or legalized psilocybin mushrooms.
What are the health benefits of psilocybin mushrooms?
According to some studies, psilocybin mushrooms have the potential to treat or manage a variety of conditions, including end-of-life distress, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, cluster headaches, and substance abuse.
Are magic mushrooms safe?
In the 2017 Global Drug Survey, magic mushrooms emerged as the safest recreational drug. However, using magic mushrooms isn't risk-free. For one, shrooms can elevate your heart rate. People with a history of mental health problems are also discouraged from using them. And finally, the biggest risk of ingesting shrooms is mistaking poisonous mushrooms for them.
Do shrooms show up on drug tests?
Most routine drug tests cannot detect magic mushrooms. The body can eliminate the metabolites of magic mushrooms in about 24 hours, rendering standard drug tests useless. However, there are specialized drug tests that can detect shrooms.
Do shrooms go bad?
Like other organic substances, magic mushrooms can go bad. Raw mushrooms can last for a few days if you keep them inside the fridge. Dried mushrooms can last up to a year if kept in an airtight container.