VICTORIA — Canada Shrooms pickers are back at work on the B.C. coast without fear of arrest for the first time in years as the psilocybin-containing fungus becomes more mainstream. But what’s legal and what’s not remains murky.
Mushrooms like the Liberty Cap are a popular choice among the thousands of people who pick them for recreational use and microdosing – low-dose self-medication – throughout Canada. Until recently, the harvest was illegal as psilocybin is listed as a restricted drug under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. But a judge in British Columbia ruled last year that the mushrooms themselves are not a prohibited substance, removing an obstacle to those who grow them for personal consumption.
The ruling was hailed by counterculture groups and mushroom pickers alike as a step towards making magic mushrooms more accessible to the public. But it isn’t a sign that the mushroom is fully legal, as it still isn’t approved for medical use by Health Canada.
Legality and Beyond: Navigating the World of Shrooms in Canada
Until now, terminally ill cancer patients like Thomas Hartle could only legally get access to psilocybin by having a minister-granted exemption. But this summer, the federal agency made it easier to get an exemption by lowering the age requirement and allowing people with depression, anxiety or other conditions to apply. Six people will now be able to receive psilocybin as part of psychotherapy, according to TheraPsil, a nonprofit that advocates for psychedelic therapy in end-of-life care. Health Canada warns that consuming the psychoactive compound found in the mushroom, Psilocybe cubensis, can cause you to see, hear or feel things that aren’t there and may cause nausea, muscle twitches and an increased heart rate and blood pressure.