This incredibly comprehensive and helpful article comes from Jeff over at Champignons Magique. Visit their shop here, and give them a review here if you’ve had the pleasure of enjoying their products!
Note: This article is not intended as legal advice. Ensure you are compliant with all local laws before interaction with psilocybin or psilocybin-containing fungi.
Psilocybin is the active psychotropic compound found in mushrooms of the Psilocybe genus and a few others, frequently referred to as “magic mushrooms” or “shrooms”. The over 200 species that comprise these genera can be found growing naturally throughout the world on every continent with the exception of Antarctica.
These mushrooms are one of the most commonly known and universally recognized psychedelics – substances that induce a profound altered state of consciousness and are beginning to be recognized for their positive effects on overall mental health, and the symptoms of many psychological conditions. Despite the promising research regarding their safety and efficacy as atreatment for psychological conditions, and their long (not to mention safe) history of use by indigenous peoples, they are illegal in the majority of countries – with a few notable exceptions.
The legality of psilocybin, and the fungi that contain it
Psilocybin (the molecule) and psilocybin-containing fungi are NOT synonymous from a legal perspective. Prohibition of the psilocybin molecule was catalyzed by the UN’s 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances, a meeting that aimed to suppress the rising popularity of psychedelic drugs like psilocybin, LSD, and MDMA during the 1960’s.
The convention placed psilocybin in Schedule I, the most restrictive category (defined as having serious risk to public health, with no therapeutic value). However, the convention neglected to precisely define the legality of mushrooms or fungal mycelium containing the substance, and included a clause (Article 32) allowing nations to exempt certain traditional uses of substances from prohibition.
The convention neglecting to ban both psilocybin and psilocybin-containing mushrooms was perhaps an unintentional oversight, and therefore left the decision to prohibit the mushrooms up to member countries, many of whom applied differing legal interpretations and did not outrightly ban the mushrooms (although all agreed to prohibit the compound psilocybin).
This discrepancy has led to multiple loopholes and a confusing double standard that is in need of clarification and rectification, especially now after promising study results regarding the substance. This article serves to address these loopholes, and provide an overview of the current legal status of psilocybin and psilocybin-containing fungi worldwide.
Psilocybin legal status in the United States
The American Psychotropic Substances Act lists psilocybin and psilocybin-containing mushrooms in Schedule I (defined as having a high potential for abuse, no currently accepted medical use in treatment, and a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug under medical supervision) however there are notable exceptions.
It is legal in most states to purchase magic mushroom spores (“for research and microscopy purposes”), and legal to grow them in New Mexico — there is even a recognized religious group in this state which uses the mushrooms for sacramental purposes.
Recently there has been a nationwide push for decriminalization, led by cities such as Denver, Oakland, and Santa Cruz which have all decriminalized the picking and personal possession of psilocybin-containing mushrooms and other entheogenic substances (with the cultivation for commercial purpose and sale of these substances remaining illegal).
Activists in over 100 additional localities have initiated similar measures, while political figures like Andrew Yang and Rep. Alexandria Oscatio-Cortez have also declared support for policy reform around psychedelics.
Psilocybin legal status in Canada
Canada’s laws around psilocybin (the molecule) are mostly congruent with the UN Psychotropic Substances Act, however they classify the substance as schedule III (defined as posing some risks to public health in some situations). The legal landscape surrounding magic mushrooms and psilocybin in Canada (and most other countries) is rather hypocritical, and laws are lightly enforced.
It’s legal to purchase spores and pre-inoculated grow kits, legal to pick and possess fresh psilocybin-containing mushrooms, but illegal to possess dried mushrooms. Laissez-faire enforcement has spurred the creation of many small businesses offering mushrooms and mushroom infused products online. The most publicized case of this being pot activist Dana Larsen’s online Medicinal Mushroom Dispensary — he’s also set to open a storefront in Vancouver Q1 2020).
There is also a clause in the Canadian Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (Section 56) which exempts substances from illegality if medically necessary. A group of therapists in Canada (Thera-psil) have appealed to Health Canada for psilocybin to be exempted from illegality under this clause.
Psilocybin legal status in the United Kingdom
British law regarding the molecule psilocybin is consistent with the UN Psychotropic substances act. However, up until 2005, the possession and even sale of magic mushrooms were fully legal. The Misuse of Drugs Act amendment of 2005 rectified this discrepancy and made the possession, sale, and cultivation of these fungi illegal.
The UK now has more restrictive laws in this area than most other countries — perhaps a rebound effect — with the sale of mushroom spores and inoculated grow kits being illegal as well.
Psilocybin legal status in The Netherlands
Psilocybin (the compound) and magic mushrooms are both illegal in The Netherlands, however many ‘smart shops’ — specialized in ethnobotanical products — profit from one of the most widely known loopholes in the Dutch Drug Misuse Act.
Fungi consist of two main portions, mycelium and fruiting bodies. The Drug Misuse Act lists only the mushrooms as illegal, however it does not include the mycelium of the fungi which also contains psilocybin under certain conditions. Mycelial clumps or “Magic Truffles, along with spores and inoculated grow kits are sold throughout the netherlands.
Psilocybin legal status in Austria
Austria decriminalized the possession of psilocybin-containing mushrooms in January 2016. Offenders caught in possession of personal-use amounts will have to undergo a free therapy program instead of a trial. Cultivation is technically legal as long as the mushrooms are not intended for use as a drug. Grow kits and spores can be legally purchased, however the sale and possession of large amounts of dried magic mushrooms is still illegal.
Psilocybin legal status in Mexico
Both psilocybin and magic mushrooms are illegal in Mexico, however authorities often turn a blind eye to personal use, citing Article 32 of the UN Psychotropic Substances Act which states that exemptions can be made for religious or sacramental use.
Psilocybin legal status in Brazil
Psilocybin (the molecule) is illegal in Brazil, however magic mushrooms are legal to possess, cultivate, and distribute in all forms.
Psilocybin legal status in The British Virgin Islands
Psilocybin (the molecule) is illegal in the BVI, however naturally-occurring magic mushrooms are legal to pick and possess. The sale of psilocybin-containing mushrooms is prohibited, but laws are loosely enforced and they are openly sold throughout the country.
Psilocybin legal status in The Bahamas
Psilocybin (the molecule) and magic mushrooms are fully legal to cultivate, possess, and sell in the Bahamas
Psilocybin legal status in Cambodia
Psilocybin (the molecule) and psilocybin-containing mushrooms are illegal in Cambodia, however laws are loosely enforced, especially in tourist areas.
Psilocybin legal status in the Czech Republic
Psilocybin (the molecule) is illegal in the Czech Republic however magic mushrooms are decriminalized and cultivation is allowed for personal use. Possession of large quantities, and the sale of dried mushrooms, is still illegal but loosely enforced.
Psilocybin legal status in Iceland
Psilocybin (the molecule) and dried magic mushrooms are illegal in Iceland, while picking and possession of fresh mushrooms is allowed.
Psilocybin legal status in India
Psilocybin (the molecule) and magic mushrooms are technically illegal in India. However, the laws are loosely enforced due to many police departments being unaware of the prohibition.
Psilocybin legal status in Israel
Psilocybin (the molecule) and magic mushrooms are illegal in Israel for the purpose of personal use. However, the purchase of spores and inoculated grow kits “for research or microscopy purposes” are allowed.
Psilocybin legal status in Italy
Psilocybin (the molecule) is illegal in Italy. However, magic mushrooms are decriminalized; grow kits and spores are also legal to buy, sell and possess.
Psilocybin legal status in Laos
Psilocybin (the molecule) and magic mushrooms are illegal in Laos. However, laws are loosely enforced, especially in tourist areas.
Psilocybin legal status in Portugal
The Drug policy of Portugal has decriminalized possession of all drugs.
Psilocybin legal status in Samoa
Psilocybin (the molecule) and magic mushrooms are legal in Samoa. However, there are government plans to make both illegal.
Psilocybin legal status in Spain
Psilocybin (the molecule) is illegal in Spain. However, the consumption of magic mushrooms is decriminalized. The cultivation and sale of psilocybin-containing mushrooms is still illegal. The legality of spores and grow kits are ambiguous and prosecution is dependent on intent.
Psilocybin legal status in Thailand
Psilocybin (the molecule) and magic mushrooms are illegal in Thailand. However, laws are loosely enforced, especially in tourist areas.
Psilocybin remains globally illegal
Any country not listed in this article has no ambiguity on the illegality of psilocybin or magic mushrooms in any form (including spores). Hopefully, in light of shifting public sentiment worldwide and promising research, this will soon change. Over the last 20 years (since the first post-drug-war psilocybin study was approved at Johns Hopkins University) the stigma and misinformation around psychedelics have been steadily decreasing.
We believe that within the next 20 years, psilocybin will become both legal and commonplace as a treatment for psychological conditions, and as a tool for personal growth.