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“Magic mushrooms” are still illegal in Canada. How can shops open? – National | Globalnews.ca

Psilocybin, or “magic mushrooms,” shops are springing up across Canada even though the drug is illegal – a development that one expert says is very similar to what happened to cannabis before it was legalized.

Stores with names like Shroomyz and Fun Guyz have opened in places like Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Vancouver and London, Ontario over the last year. They sell the drug individually by weight and in different varieties, as well as in edibles like gummy bears or chocolate.

Psilocybin has a psychedelic effect on those who use it, which some claim has therapeutic effects.

There were a few raids, including a store in Toronto in November and in Hamilton and Montreal in July, and arrests were made. But like mushrooms growing in fertile soil, more stores seem to be opening than closing.

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Winnipeg Police Department is filing charges and investigating in connection with the raid on a magic mushroom store


In a statement to Global News Aug. 31, the Toronto Police Service (TPS) said a report of an illegal pharmacy is being investigated and “any decision to press charges will be based on the findings of .” this investigation.”

“In terms of priorities, however, enforcement through TPS is largely focused on the illicit drug trade, which leads to overdose deaths and has traumatic and devastating effects on our communities,” the Toronto Police spokesman said.

A magic mushroom dispensary is pictured on the Danforth in Toronto, March 4, 2023.


THE CANADIAN PRESS PHOTOS/Rachel Conn


Ottawa-based attorney Eugene Oscapella, who specializes in drug policy, told Global News that police have discretion over what to pursue and what to leave behind, and may have more pressing issues in deploying their resources.

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“There are big issues out there — is stalking magic mushroom stores an effective use of police time?” he said.

A few factors could play a role in whether police intervene, Oscapella says, such as noise complaints, reports of underage sales, or links between a store and organized crime.

Oscapella witnessed the cannabis legalization movement and notes some similarities between cannabis then and psilocybin today.

Similar to cannabis, the presence of stocks helps normalize psilocybin, Oscapella said, but depends on the mood of the location, he noted.

As with cannabis, it’s possible that larger cities are more accepting of magic mushrooms, while smaller jurisdictions are more conservative. Oscapella pointed out that in Thunder Bay, Ontario, the crackdown on cannabis is much tougher than in Ottawa or Vancouver.


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Patients are asking the government to ease therapeutic access to psilocybin


Oscapella said magic mushroom stores raise questions about whether criminal law is the best way to deal with the drug, and if it turns out that might not be the case, then of course discussions about a possible regulatory framework to ensure safety follow .

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He said some may be opening pharmacies for commercial reasons, but others are drug advocates hoping to advance the issue and put pressure on public discussion. This is a similar tactic to cannabis, where illegal dispensaries were opening long before it was legalized in October 2018.

“(Illegal cannabis stores) helped advance the discussion and potentially facilitated the eventual legalization of cannabis,” Oscapella said. “Maybe the same thing is happening with drugs like psilocybin. There are some parallels there.”

&copy 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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