“Magic mushrooms” are mushrooms that contain hallucinogens, the psychoactive compounds psilocybin and psilocin. Shroomyz Medical Mushroom Dispensary on Queen St. West is Toronto’s first mushroom dispensary selling the latest strains of magic mushrooms and edibles. It’s one of three locations in Ontario providing medical mushrooms to those looking for alternative treatments for various health conditions including depression and anxiety. Shroomyz has been in the news recently over questions about the legality of their operations. In Canada, mushrooms are not approved by Health Canada for therapeutic use. And the sale of psilocybin, the active ingredient in medical mushrooms, is illegal under the Controlled Drug and Substances Act. So is it legal to buy mushrooms from Shroomyz, or any other medical mushroom dispensary in Toronto? Health Canada has granted exemptions to certain patients suffering from end-of-life distress to use psilocybin for medical purposes. However, the exemptions granted are very limited. And while the legal landscape around medical mushrooms is constantly evolving with growing pressure for Canadian regulators to revisit their policies regarding their use, the production, sale and possession of magic mushrooms is illegal in Canada, making stores selling magic mushrooms illegal to operate.
In November of 2022, just a couple of months after it opened, Shroomyz was raided by the Toronto Police and two men were charged with possession and trafficking of a controlled substance. Despite this setback, the dispensary reopened shortly after and remains open to this day. After the raid, Toronto city spokesperson Naomi Ahmad told CBC Toronto in a statement that “The City of Toronto does not have the jurisdiction to enforce the Controlled Drug and Substances Act nor is a business licence issued for this type of business.” So Shroomyz continues to operate in a grey area. A Shroomyz employee told CTV National News on February 2nd “we are operating a medical protest… we are here to give the public easier access than having to go to street dealers.”
There are over 200 species of magic mushrooms. They have been used for thousands of years and studied for their potential to treat conditions such as depression, anxiety, and addiction. Many feel mushrooms should be legal because they are naturally occurring and have a relatively low risk of harm compared to many other substances. Legalizing magic mushrooms for medical use would also open up opportunities for further scientific research into their potential health benefits. It’s difficult for scientists to conduct research on mushrooms and their potential uses, health benefits and risks due to their illegal status. Considering the promising potential for treating a range of health conditions, legalizing mushrooms could provide a valuable alternative treatment option for those seeking relief from mental health conditions, and could also help to further our understanding of these fascinating substances- substances that are naturally occurring.
Right now in Canada, there are three ways to to legally access psilocybin: through clinical trials, individual exemptions from the Controlled Drug and Substances Act, and Health Canada’s Special Access Program, which allows health care practitioners to request access to drugs that have shown promise in clinical trials or have been approved in other countries, but are not yet authorized for sale here in Canada. This program provides access to non-marketed drugs for the treatment of serious or life-threatening conditions when conventional therapies have failed, are unsuitable or are unavailable.
Shroomyz Medical Mushroom Dispensary is located at 488 Queen St. West, Toronto.