Psilocin and Psilocybin in Canada are both classified as Schedule lll drugs under Canada's Controlled Drugs and Substances Act(CDSA).
This means any activity such as sale, production, or possession of these substances are illegal unless authorized for clinical trial or research.
The push for legalization of Psilocybin in Canada
Believed by some historians to date back as far as 9000 B.C., the use of psychoactive and hallucinogenic substances have long been a staple in spiritual and holy rituals among many cultures around the globe.
It wasn't until the late 50's that magic mushrooms started to become popular in western civilization, and became commonplace in the hippie movement, with use prevalent all throughout the 60's.
This came to a halt with the Convention on Pyschotropic Substances, also known as the Vienna Convention.
The Convention on Psychotropic Substances was a UN treaty designed to control psychoactive drugs such as amphetamine-type stimulants, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, and psychedelics. It was signed in Vienna, Austria in 1971.
Many laws have been passed in order to uphold the convention, such as the UK Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, the U.S. Psychotropic Substances Act, and of course ours here in Canada, the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.
The loophole in the convention? Psilocybin as a drug itself is illegal, but nowhere in the act does it mention the actual mushrooms themselves, which has opened it up for a lot of interpretation.
While still completely illegal today, the movement to legalize psilocybin in Canada is gaining more and more ground, as is evident from a few interesting cases.
The use of psychedelics for end of life distress
At the forefront of the push for psilocybin legalization is a Canadian therapist, Bruce Tobin.
Tobin is part of a group of licensed and accredited psychotherapists and medical professionals who run Therasil. The group is advocating for psilocybin psychotherapy to be legalized for Canadians suffering end of life distress.
Tobin has been asking Health Canada to permit psilocybin for medical reasons for years, but still continues to get no answers, despite growing research detailing numerous heath benefits.
If denied, Tobin plans to file a lawsuit, claiming the decision violates Canadian's rights to “life, liberty, and security of person”.
This is the same argument that was used to prove in Canadian courts that it was unconstitutional to deny Canadians medical access to cannabis, and it just may be what gets psilocybin legalized as well.
This clause in particular under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, Section 56(1), states that the Health Minister may exempt substances if necessary for medical or scientific purposes.
Even if he is eventually answered by Health Canada, it could take years of research and clinical trials before becoming legal for medicinal use.
Motion to prevent sale of psilocybin mushrooms denied
In September 2019, Vancouver city council struck down a motion to deter and prevent the sale of psilocybin mushrooms, with many speakers coming forward to speak against the motion.
"Drug prohibition and criminal enforcement in drug cases continue to be a huge waste of resources" was just one of the arguments brought up, with several other speakers attesting to the health benefits they had personally experienced with the drug.
Calling it "anti-drug hysteria", the motion was struck down 6-2.
Psilocybin dispensaries now open, regardless of legal status
Cannabis and psilocybin activist and business owner Dana Larsen is another Canadian who is pushing for legalization.
Larsen owns a medicinal psilocybin dispensary here in Canada, and he's anything but discreet about it.
Now a member of the NDP, interestingly enough he claims that breaking the law by selling psilocybin may be the only way to get it changed.
Larsen provides micro-doses of psilocybin to Canadians, but the goal here isn't to make them trip out.
In larger doses, generally 1-3 grams, psilocybin mushrooms can cause intense auditory and visual hallucinations.
They also have the effect of changing your perspective, or how you view the world around you, and can have a positive lasting impact on overall mood and behavior.
Micro-dosing allows one to experience the positive mental benefits of psilocybin, without the hallucinations.
Canadians who are looking to order from Larsen's dispensary must show documentation of some kind - be it a recommendation from a doctor, naturopath, or in the form of a diagnosis that medicinal psilocybin is thought to treat.
The laws surrounding psilocybin in Canada are a bit strange however. The sale of dried or fresh psilocybin mushrooms is prohibited, but buying mushroom growing kits and spores is perfectly legal.
Here in Canada you are able to purchase spores, magic mushroom growing kits, and everything else you may need to grow your own psilocybin mushrooms at home.
The catch? As soon as your shrooms start forming mycelium, the legal status of your grow kit changes drastically.
Let's take a look at the process.
Growing psilocybin mushrooms at home
Growing your own shrooms at home is a fairly straightforward process. Magic mushroom growing kits will contain everything you need in order to get set up and begin growing.
These kits generally contain a spore syringe which holds your mushroom spores, usually in water, substrate to "sow" your spores in, and a container to grow them in.
The spore syringe that holds your mushroom spores doesn't contain any psilocybin - yet.
Once you reach the stage in the grow process where the mycelium starts to form, this is where you're entering illegal territory.
Mycelium is the vegetative part of a fungus, almost like a root system, and is where the psilocybin develops in the growth stage.
The mycelium gathers a reserve of nutrients and food from its surroundings, in this case from the substrate, and uses it to produce fruiting bodies.
Mycelium starts to grow between 4-6 days after inoculation, but psilocybin can't actually be detected until mycelium knots start to form. These knots are the mycelium condensing, and will eventually form into mushrooms.
It is at this point that psilocybin can be detected, and your at home mushroom grow goes from legal to illegal.
Final thoughts on Psilocybin in Canada
We still have a long way to go, but the future looks promising.
The stance on psilocybin from authorities in Canada has become increasingly more lackluster, and it is evident that they consider psilocybin prosecution to be a low priority.
Numerous dispensaries have opened over the past couple years with no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
Even Health Canada states that there is very little evidence that people can become physically or psychologically dependent on shrooms.
What do you think Canada? Should magic mushrooms be legalized?
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