- It is not legal to sell psilocybin or “mushrooms” in Canada, but the owner of an activist store does the same.
- He is trying to push Vancouver to manage or legalize it, as cannabis sellers did in 2015.
- “If you’re like me and you’re willing to take a risk and push it forward, you find the resistance isn’t very strong,” he told Insider.
Psilocybin, also known as magic mushrooms or “mushrooms,” is not allowed to be sold under Canadian federal law, but that hasn’t stopped some Vancouver store owners from selling it anyway.
“There’s no strong resistance to people doing this kind of thing. If you’re like me, and you’re willing to take a risk and push it forward, you find that the resistance isn’t very strong,” Dana Larsen said. , the owner of the medicinal mushroom dispensary, told Insider.
Larsen told the Vancouver Sun that Canada would not have legalized cannabis without store owners like him, who sold cannabis before it was legal. And there are likely to be only more mushroom dispensaries, he added.
The mushroom dispensary operates from the same space as another of Larsen’s businesses, the Coca Leaf Café, and began selling in-person versions of chocolate and psychedelic pills in the spring of 2021.
Now, he bet that the sale of the substance would push the government to go ahead and legalize it.
The tactic has a precedent: store owners in Vancouver have been selling cannabis illegally at least since 2015, and the city that year created a licensing system for stores, while challenging federal policy.
Canada legalized cannabis in October 2018, but the illegal or semi-illegal market in Vancouver persisted, mostly due to licensing issues.
Larsen himself owned one of these first cannabis dispensaries, which the city eventually forced him to close because it was too close to a community center to obtain a license.
He told Insider that his efforts, and those of other business owners in the city, likely helped drive the effort to legalize cannabis in Canada at the federal level.
“Vancouver was a place where seeds emerged and grew across the country,” he told Insider.
As for the last harvest, mushroom dispensaries in Vancouver have emerged as, well, mushrooms.
As of November, there were several stores that were openly selling mushrooms in the city, in one case as a way to recoup revenue lost by the pandemic, according to the Daily Hive Vancouver.
Vancouver City Council told the Sun that it had begun an investigation into Larsen’s store and asked it to “stop the illegal activity,” although the Vancouver Police Department told the publication that the Mushroom chase is not a top priority.
Although illegal in the United States and Canada, psilocybin appears to have some therapeutic effects, especially when used in larger amounts. Scientists are divided on the effectiveness of microdose.
There are ways for Canadians to get a medical exception for mushrooms, but the process is laborious, so many people go to such establishments, TheraPsil, a non-profit organization, told CBC News.
Meanwhile, consumer interest has helped drive a mountain of funding: the first psychedelic-focused stock exchange-traded fund debuted on a Canadian stock exchange in January, and some companies are experimenting with so-called “functional mushrooms.”