Shroom boom? Psilocybin mushroom dispensaries sprouting up in Vancouver

More and more magic mushroom dispensaries are popping up around Vancouver, and some say the movement is just getting started.

“There’s a lot of demand for mushrooms and psychedelic products out there,” said Dana Larsen, owner of Magic Mushroom Dispensary in the Downtown Eastside. “I know of at least four places in the city that are operating, there might be more, I’m not sure, but I fully expect there to be several dozen by the end of the year.”

Larsen’s business sells a variety of psychedelics including LSD and peyote, but his most popular item is magic mushrooms. It’s currently against federal law to sell many of the items in Larsen’s shop, including psilocybin, the substance derived from the mushroom’s root.

“I think we’ve already created a pathway with cannabis that involved hundreds of shops across the country openly selling cannabis before it was legalized,” said Larsen, a drug advocate who pushed for cannabis legalization. “I think we’re going to see a very similar path with mushrooms.”

One lawyer who specializes in the field says Larsen and other shop owners are operating in a legal grey area, similar to cannabis shops before the drug was legalized by the federal government.

“Certainly a police officer is entitled to enforce the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act,” said Jack Lloyd, a cannabis and psychedelics lawyer. “Thus far they have not done so, which, in my view, really relates to the fact that so many people are using these psychedelic substances for medical purposes and it’s not drug trafficking in the sense that the police are accustomed to.”

In a statement to CTV News, Vancouver police said “anyone who traffics psilocybin, specifically those who contribute to violence and organized crime, could face arrest and charges.”

Larsen says he has yet to be targeted by the police. However, bylaw officials recently sent him a notice.

“They have sent us a letter a few months ago, chastising us and telling us to stop selling mushrooms or they’ll start fining us,” said Larsen. “We haven’t received any fines yet, but I would not be surprised if we did.”

He says he’s prepared for whatever comes his way when it comes to enforcement.

“I think, like with cannabis dispensaries, there’s going to be some legal challenges but ultimately, I think, we’re going to prevail.”