Jordan Armstrong is not worried about a police shutdown.
“We’re here to protest every day,” said Armstrong, who runs The Golden Teacher’s magic mushroom store in downtown Ottawa.
“And laws that are unfair don’t change unless you go out and make a statement about it. So we’re looking to change laws that we think are obsolete.”
Since December 2021, Armstrong has been selling magic mushrooms and other products such as jelly beans, chocolates, and microdose capsules containing the psychoactive substance psilocybin at the store on the corner of Rideau and Dalhousie streets.
This is despite the fact that magic mushrooms are considered an illegal substance in Canada, only available by prescription in very specific circumstances.
However, there are at least two storefronts in Ottawa that openly advertise them for sale. Along with the Golden Teacher, another store on Preston Street called Shroomyz will open on May 1, according to its social media page.
“We provide you with a safe, controlled dose, with a clear idea of how it will affect you,” Armstrong said.
“And then you go home and experiment with mushrooms yourself.”
“Gray Zone Research Facility”
According to Health Canada, the use of magic mushrooms, in addition to their hallucinogenic properties, can cause anxiety, fear, nausea, increased heart rate and “bad trips,” although there has been “growing interest.” en [their] possible therapeutic uses “.
The production, sale and possession of magic mushrooms are illegal, Health Canada said.
Armstrong said some of his clients use mushrooms for therapeutic purposes, while others use them for spiritual growth or personal development.
He added psilocybin the products they sell don’t just serve to “get up”. Armstrong calls the store a “gray area research facility” that sells mushrooms to find out how they affect people.
He said they plan to survey customers as there is limited information on dosing.
“What is widely unknown about mushrooms is how they affect each individual,” he said. “And that’s what needs to be known and what needs to be documented so that we can move forward with proper regulation of fungi.”
That way, “bad trips will become obsolete,” he said.
CBC also tried to reach Shroomyz, but was unsuccessful.
Take psilocybin legally
There are ways for Canadians to legally consume psilocybin, with Health Canada paving the way for 2020 to make patients seriously ill prescribed magic mushrooms.
One concern about unregulated psilocybin is that it could include dangerous substances such as fentanyl, said Dr. Valorie Masuda, a Vancouver Island palliative care physician who is certified in psychedelic-assisted therapy.
Masuda may legally prescribe small doses of psilocybin to patients suffering from existential distress due to an end-of-life diagnosis.
“Antidepressants cannot be given to people who are so anxious about their cancer diagnosis,” he said. “Medications don’t help. Sedatives don’t help. All it does is make people feel sedated. They’re still anxious.”
Masuda said he has seen an 80% success rate while using psilocybin to treat his patients with palliative care, in the context of an eight-week group therapy session.
“They are no longer driven by anxiety. They are no longer depressed. They are taken every day as a magical day.”
The results of treating patients with psychedelics have been “phenomenal,” Masuda said, adding that he would like to see legislative changes so that people can access psilocybin in the same way they can now buy cannabis.
“Once we legalize it and have licensed producers who are responsible for their product, then I think we see safety improving, and we could see licensed suppliers providing microdoses instead of large doses,” he said.
“And that way it’s really controlled.”
Police acknowledge the illegality
The Ottawa Police Service has recognized that psilocybin is illegal.
In a statement, the police force told CBC News that it “reviews and evaluates drug complaints individually to determine the appropriate course of action, which may include additional investigations and enforcement.”
Mayor Jim Watson said Sunday he did not know the two magic mushroom stores, adding that he would like to hear from police about what action they would take.
“If it’s illegal, they shouldn’t be in operation and should be shut down as soon as possible.”