While Magic Mushrooms Are Generally Illegal, Mushroom Spores Are Legal, in Most States.
DEA Classifies Psilocybin as Schedule I
The primary psychoactive ingredients in “magic” mushrooms are psilocybin and psilocin. Both compounds are listed as “Schedule I” by the DEA. According to this classification, the compounds are deemed to have a high abuse potential and no therapeutic value. Anyone who has consumed magic mushrooms before knows that this classification is misguided. In fact, there are dozens of recent studies and many more underway that are testing the efficacy of psilocybin in treating an array of mental health issues, from depression, to anxiety, to PTSD. There is a great deal of pressure from the medical and research communities to reschedule these substances. But, for now they remain illegal under federal law.
FDA’s Recognition of Psilocybin
Despite the DEA clinging to the outdated classification of psilocybin as a Schedule I drug, in 2018, the FDA designated psilocybin as a “Breakthrough Therapy” acknowledging its therapeutic potential. This designation expedites developmental review of new drugs and facilitates their pathway to the marketplace. The FDA found that, “preliminary clinical evidence indicates that the drug may demonstrate substantial improvement over available therapy on a clinically significant endpoint.”
Some Cities and States Have Decriminalized Psilocybin
Some cities and states have taken steps to decriminalize psilocybin and embrace its potential therapeutic benefits. In 2020, Oregon Voters approved Measure 109, which provides for legalized possession and consumption of psilocybin-containing mushrooms for therapeutic purposes under supervised guidance by trained professionals.
In Colorado, voters approved Proposition 122 November 2022, which paves the way for therapeutic psilocybin treatment centers in 2024, similar to Oregon. Meanwhile, the law also decriminalized possession, cultivation, and sharing of “magic” mushrooms and other plant-based entheogens, such as DMT and ayahuasca.
On more local level, A grass roots lobbying group called Decriminalize Nature (decriminalizenature.org) has spearheaded successful city- and county-wide ballot initiatives to decriminalize plant-based entheogens, including psilocybin, in such places as Oakland and Santa Cruz, California, Ann Arbor and Detroit, Michigan, and Washington, D.C.
Mushroom Spores Are Legal in Most States
Unlike magic mushrooms, their mushroom spores do not contain psilocybin, or any other psychoactive compound, for that matter. Federal law, therefore, does not address the legality of spores. It is legal to possess psilocybin spores in most states, except for three, where state legislatures have specifically banned the possession of psilocybin mushroom spores: California, Georgia, and Idaho.
In California, efforts to decriminalize psychedelics are gaining traction. In July 2023, the California State Assembly Public Safety Committee approved a bill to decriminalize possession of plant-based entheogens such as psilocybin and DMT.
It is important to keep in mind however that, while it is legal to possess psilocybin mushroom spores in almost every state, it is not legal to cultivate psilocybin mushrooms under federal law; thus, spores must be purchased and possessed for the purpose of research, taxonomy, and microscopy, rather than cultivation.
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