It would be safer for consumers if we legalized magic mushrooms

Published Jun 3, 2021 11:00 a.m. ET
iStock / Yarygin

Cannabis hasn't been legal in Canada or anywhere else for that matter for very long, and most countries are still dead set against accepting the plant as a legal substance choice. The green movement, though it began many moons ago, is still in its infancy, but consumers are already anticipating what could come next. It might be that through better education on cannabis, people are now more willing to at least consider the many benefits that nature can provide, or it could be the fact that witnessing this historical change was enough to desensitize us to what it truly means to break the law for either medicine or recreation. Either way, support for and the use of psilocybin is growing.

Rare exemptions

Though some medical patients have managed to acquire rare exemptions allowing them to indulge in the hallucinogenic properties with the goal of easing their transition through the end stages of life in a more comfortable manner, very few have access to this kind of opportunity. For recreational users, psilocybin cannot be found in legal stores, and there is no permission or exemption that can be applied for, still, thousands of consumers are taking magic mushrooms every single day.

Bad sources

Some of them grow them themselves, many have connections through friends, but the majority these days are turning to online stores to quell their shroom needs. At first glance, this might not seem like much of a problem, after all, we got through decades of prohibition while millions of people still used cannabis through black-market suppliers, with little to no issue. However, that’s not entirely true, and the risks are even higher with psilocybin

Safety first

One of the main selling points of legalization was that it was supposed to provide all consumers with access to safe pot products, and with rigorous quality standards and testing in place, it really has. All it takes is a few moments of scanning over potential contaminants that can be found in cannabis to realize that many of them, like mould, can be terrible for your health. Even though the problems caused by these unnecessary additions in black market weed often go unnoticed, inhaling tainted products over time can cause life long-lasting harm.

Cannabis is cultivated in the ground surrounded by soils, and its contaminants are generally caused by things like improper curing, storing, or packaging, but magic mushrooms are cultivated in a bed of literal manure, which contains high levels of bacteria that can be hazardous for your health. Improper cleaning of psilocybin mushrooms can lead to illness when they’re eventually ingested by an unknowing consumer and the illnesses that can be caused by this range from mild to emergency room worthy.

Now, most might assume that their grower washes off their mushrooms and handles them with care, because it’d just be gross not to, but there is no guarantee that this gross oversight will be avoided in the privacy of some person's home. There are also other dangers that lie in wait in the world of psilocybin strains, as these fungi are toxic, which is what induces the high. Cannabis works by interacting with the endocannabinoid system’s receptors triggering feel-good chemicals and system regulation, but mushrooms are completely different.

To be fair, the toxicity and harm-potential of magic mushrooms are rather low, still, they must be prepared through a process that is similar to curing cannabis to dull down the ill effects. During this time, they should be stored in a completely sterile environment because they’re mushrooms that were just pulled out of thick, fresh waste, making the still moist morsels the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. Even before then, while the shrooms are maturing, they can be taken over by invasive mould spores which can be impossible to notice once the product is dry, and at the same time, the ill effects can be devastating to the consumer.

In some cases, psilocybin mushroom culture comes pre-contaminated with all different types of terrible things, something that professional cultivators would be testing for regularly, but unfortunately, we still don’t have any. As you can see, the potential for us to see more adverse reactions to black-market mushrooms is quite high, especially when you consider how quickly they’re growing in popularity. We’re realizing that psilocybin can be useful for everything from a hallucinogenic trip to a powerful pain reliever and that it’s not anywhere near the demon so many of us once believed it to be.

The facts

Times are changing with the rise of technology and the internet making it easier than ever before for unlicensed, unregulated and unskilled entrepreneurs to hop in on this growing market. While consumers might appreciate the ease of such a transaction these days, what they really want and deserve is access to a safe, legal, regulated, and tested supplier. Something we could give them if we’d hurry up and legalize it.

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