Mushrooms

Best Practices: Buying Magic Mushrooms (& Psilocybin Spores)

Caine Barlow · August 30th, 2021

Psilocybin is a largely illegal substance and we do not encourage or condone its use where it is against the law. However, we accept that illegal drug use occurs and believe that offering responsible harm reduction information is imperative to keeping people safe. For that reason, this guide is designed to enhance the safety of those who decide to use psilocybin.

With regular news stories touting the benefits of psilocybin therapy, there is growing curiosity around how to access psilocybin-containing mushrooms. Should you ask someone you know? Can you buy them online? Or should you consider growing them yourself?

To help you make an informed decision, this guide takes a look at your various options. However, no matter which route you choose, it’s important to remember that psilocybin remains a scheduled drug in most countries. As such, you may want to familiarize yourself with the law in your region, so you know the right questions to ask before you start asking around.

The psychedelic revival

According to many historians, indigenous cultures have been using Psilocybe mushrooms for literally thousands of years. Thanks to the psychedelic renaissance, however, new research into the power of psilocybin therapy has begun to proliferate. Today, various studies point to the potential of psilocybin to assist with treatment-resistant depression, end-of-life distress, obsessive compulsive disorder, eating disorders, and substance-use disorders, including alcohol and tobacco addiction. This has led to growing interest in the use of psilocybin mushrooms—not only for high-dose experiences, but also as a tool for microdosing.

Microdosing uses sub-perceptual doses of a compound such as psilocybin or LSD to elicit an ongoing benefit, such as enhanced levels of creativity, energy, and focus.  Both psilocybin and LSD are popular choices for microdosing regimens as they are structurally similar to serotonin or dopamine (i.e., tryptamines or phenethylamines, respectively). Both these neurotransmitters activate the body’s 5-HT2A receptor, which has been found to enhance neuroplasticity and improve brain functions like cognition, learning, and memory.

These and other outcomes may have you wondering about the benefits of trying psilocybin for yourself. Yet, unless you plan to forage for mushrooms on your own, you may not know where to start.

Where to buy magic mushrooms

For many people, an “obvious” starting point is the internet. While the Silk Road black market is long gone, there has been a gradual increase in vendors selling their wares via the darknet and, more recently, even on social media platforms, such as Instagram, Twitter, and, ironically, Facebook. Along with a variety of psychoactive compounds such as LSD, DMT, and ketamine, shrooms can often be found on these sites. The challenge? Not all of these sites are above-board.  This can put you at risk of being scammed financially or being exposed to fraudulent behavior.

Some people try to overcome this challenge by asking a local cannabis dealer for guidance. This may make sense for cannabis, where the grower is often only a couple of degrees of separation from the purchaser. But with mushrooms, this can be a bit harder, because growing mushrooms is a different skill set.

Additionally, while the decision to buy magic mushrooms may seem straightforward, there are many legal consequences that need to be kept in mind. In most countries, psilocybin remains a scheduled substance (Schedule 1 in the United States, Schedule 9 in Australia, and Class A in the UK), which means the cultivation and sale of magic mushrooms is considered illegal. Unless you live somewhere that has decriminalized psilocybin (such as Jamaica, Samoa, and Brazil), being found in possession of psilocybin-containing mushrooms could result in a criminal record.

Given these realities, it may just be easier to grow your own magic mushrooms. Admittedly,  the process of cultivating fungi is daunting for many: issues of space, time commitment, and lack of knowledge can all be barriers to entry.

Yet, in principle, growing mushrooms is relatively easy thanks to pioneers such as Oss and Oeric (AKA Terrance and Dennis McKenna), Professor Fanaticus (inventor of the PF Tek), and a fantastic network of experienced growers on Mycotopia and The Shroomery. While most of the necessary components can be purchased at your local supermarket, pharmacy, and hardware store, there are also readily available mushroom grow kits.

Can’t I just buy magic truffles? Truffles are mycelium, not mushrooms

While most mushroom cultivation focuses on growing the mushroom, the fruiting body is not the only specialized structure produced by mycelium. Some psilocybin-containing fungi produce what is referred to as a “truffle”. The “truffle” is not a real truffle, but is a dense structure called a sclerotium that forms underground. Sclerotia are hardened masses of mycelium and are used to store nutrients; they are also a way for the fungus to survive long dry periods. Sclerotia- producing species are cultivated in the US and other countries, so they are not uncommon.

Some species of Psilocybe such as Psilocybe mexicana, Psilocybe galindoi, and Psilocybe tampanensis are cultivated to produce “magic truffles”. Because truffles are not actually “mushrooms”, some people may wonder if they can be bought legally. In fact, when a change in laws in the Netherlands made magic mushrooms unavailable for sale in the country, many cafés in Amsterdam turned to a loophole in the wording of the law to continue selling spores and mycelium.

Yet, despite falling into a legal grey area in the Netherlands, magic truffles still contain psilocybin and psilocin—making them illegal in most other countries. That said, in many countries, purchasing psilocybin spores is not against the law.

Where can I buy psilocybin spores?

Similar to growing plants from seeds, growing fungi begins with spores.  Typically, spores come in one of two forms: as a spore print or as a spore syringe.

A spore print is a mass of spores collected onto foil and then dried. It resembles the shapes of the gills from the mushroom used to create the spore print. A spore syringe is a syringe containing spores suspended in a liquid. A spore syringe is made from a spore print, but spore syringes don’t last as long as a spore print. That said, working with a spore syringe is more manageable than working with a spore print, as you can measure out a given volume of liquid.

Spores in either form are easily obtained via any number of platforms over the internet. There are Reddit groups such as “SporeTraders”, Facebook groups, or more traditional online shop-style vendors selling spores for educational purposes. In fact, in some countries, it’s completely legitimate to search for “spores for microscopy purposes”.

Spores can be obtained legally in most US states because the spores do not contain psilocybin. Currently, only California, Georgia, and Idaho have a ban on selling psilocybin mushroom spores. As long as the spores are not germinated and are only used for research, identification, and education, they can be considered legal. However, germinating the spores is considered cultivation, which is a violation of the US Controlled Substances Act. That’s why most professional vendors indicate in their documentation that the spores should not be germinated and that they are for educational purposes only. Many will not even answer questions via email about the cultivation of mushrooms from their spores.

Despite this legal quandary, many people believe that growing small batches of mushrooms is safer and poses fewer individual risks than purchasing mushrooms. That’s especially true if you only plan to grow a small amount for the purposes of microdosing. If you’re curious about how much you would need for a microdosing regimen, check out Third Wave’s new and improved Microdosing Course. Using a step-by-step science-based protocol, the course will guide you through the basics and help you tailor your routine to meet your personal goals.

Best practices around buying psilocybin spores (and magic mushrooms) online

If you’ve decided that buying spores makes sense for you, there are several things you’ll need to consider. One of the more challenging parts is deciding which strain to purchase. That’s because varieties of Psilocybe cubensis differ in physical appearance, how readily they form mushrooms, and how potent they are.

There is a considerable variety of Psilocybe cubensis, from Golden Teacher to Penis Envy (PE). Other varieties include Mexican cubensis, Amazonian, Cambodian, and Columbian; the list goes on. Or if you want to try something a little different, you can even consider Panaeolus cyanescens, also known as Blue Meanies. We recommend doing a little research before making a decision.

Another issue to consider is the quality of the spores. High-quality spore prints are best produced in cleanrooms using mushrooms grown in very clean environments, which means they’re essentially cultivated in artificial conditions (a practice that largely remains illegal). So even if you find a site that is happy to ship all the spore prints you desire, make sure to determine the quality of their products before you click “ship order”.

You should also ask yourself if the website feels legitimate. Does the site describe the vendor’s quality control methods? Does it include “about” pages that feature a contact form or alternative methods of contact? Here, again, some advanced research pays off. Consider reading reviews from a number of forums or checking with contacts on Facebook groups. Don’t buy from Instagram or Facebook vendors unless they have a proper website!

Similarly, don’t be afraid to contact the vendor directly and ask for details about how they maintain quality control, the cleanliness protocol for their laboratory, whether they regularly plate their spores on agar to ensure clean prints, and germination rates (high germination rates are the goal, of course). A professional company will be more than happy to answer your questions and provide information. If they are slow to respond or vague about their processes, consider somewhere else before clicking “check out” on your shopping cart.

The same questions apply to purchasing mushrooms if you decide to go that route. What strains do they grow? What are the growing conditions? You should also ask what they use for substrate and what drying process they use for the mushrooms. A good vendor will be happy to answer these questions.

The legality of spores: US, Canada, Australia, and beyond

If you plan to search for “spores for microscopy/research purposes” online when looking for spores to cultivate a Psilocybe species, you should consider if the request is a legal one. The answer typically depends on the correct interpretation of your country’s law regarding psilocybin. If those laws mention only the compound (e.g., psilocybin or psilocin), spores are more likely to be considered legal than if the laws explicitly mention the genus and parts of the organism that are prohibited.

In some cases, intent also matters. For instance, while it may be perfectly legal to be in possession of spores in many countries, as soon as the spores are germinated, the resulting hyphae may be considered illegal by virtue of the fact that the mycelium produces psilocybin.

Many countries over the years have closed loopholes that previously enabled the sale of mushrooms as distinct from pure psilocybin or psilocin. Countries like the UK and the Netherlands, where fresh mushrooms were available in cafés and shops, have now rewritten the laws to cover the mushrooms themselves.

Thanks to the growing evidence on how beneficial psilocybin can be for a variety of health issues, changes in legislation may ultimately follow the same trajectory as THC, CBD, and other cannabis products. Until that time comes, though, you should understand the laws that prevail where you live. Here’s a quick overview of some of the current legislative rules:

US

In the United States, psilocybin and psilocin are listed as Schedule 1 drugs[1], making possession of psilocybin-containing mushrooms illegal. Spores do not contain psilocybin or psilocin, which means they are legal to trade or sell in most US states. Spores are illegal in Georgia[2], Idaho[3], and California[4]. The sale of spores for the purpose of growing hallucinogenic mushrooms is illegal. The cultivation of hallucinogenic mushrooms is considered the manufacture of a Schedule 1 substance; therefore, it is illegal as soon as you germinate the spores.

In Louisiana, through the Louisiana State Act 159, growing, selling, or possessing Psilocybe spp. and Conocybe spp. are prohibited[5].

Decriminalization

Decriminalization is not the same as legalization. Decriminalization is when something is no longer considered a crime and includes removing criminal penalties. In the context of psychoactives, such as cannabis or psilocybin, this simply means you can grow or be in possession of these substances for personal use without facing criminal penalties. Civil penalties, however, may still exist.

The US cities Denver, Colorado[6], Oakland, California[7], Santa Cruz, California[8], and Ann Arbor, Michigan[9] have decriminalized psilocybin and psilocin. Keep in mind the state of California criminalizes the sale of spores of Psilocybe spp.

The state of Oregon voted in an initiative on November 3, 2020 to legalize psilocybin for mental health treatment at licensed centers and decriminalize the possession of small amounts of all drugs[10]. Washington, D.C. passed an initiative to decriminalize the cultivation and possession of “entheogenic plants and fungi” on the same day[11].

In 2021, the City Councils of Somerville, Northampton, and Cambridge, Massachusetts[12] voted for decriminalization. California is currently in the process of reviewing bill SB-519, which would decriminalize many psychedelics, including psilocybin.

Canada

In Canada, both dry and fresh psilocybin-containing mushrooms are illegal. As in the US, purchasing spores with the intent to cultivate is illegal, but buying spores for research and collection purposes is allowed. Most mushroom spores in Canada are sold over the internet as spore prints or in spore syringes. Mushroom grow kits are legal and sold openly on the internet.

Psilocybin and psilocin are classified as Schedule III under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act[13] and illegal to possess, obtain, or produce without a prescription or license. Online dispensaries exist that openly sell microdoses to Canadian patients with medical prescriptions[14]. Police tolerate the activity, stating that they focus instead on pursuing harmful criminal drug activities.

The Netherlands

In the Netherlands, psilocybin-containing fungi are legal as “magic truffles”. The outlawing of psychoactive mushrooms permits truffles, as they are mycelium, not “mushrooms”, through a legal loophole. Magic truffles are sold in smart shops throughout the country, and as of September 2019, they are fully taxed and legalized[15].

Both dry and fresh psychoactive mushrooms were available from Dutch cafés, but the possession of dried magic mushrooms was criminalized in 2005 and fresh mushrooms in 2008. Possession of minor amounts (less than 0.5g dried or 5g fresh) is allowed and will not lead to a criminal charge[16].

The UK

In the UK, psilocybin-containing fungi are listed as a Class A drug, making the possession, cultivation, use, and supply of psilocybin-containing mushrooms illegal. This includes both fresh and “prepared” mushrooms–e.g., mushrooms that have been dried, cooked, or made into a tea.

Before implementing the Drug Act 2005[17], fresh mushrooms had been widely available, including sales in shops. Section 21 of the Act now makes these an illegal product.

Spores do not contain psilocybin and are therefore not regulated under the Act.

Australia

In Australia, psilocybin and psilocin are listed as Schedule 9 drugs, making the possession, cultivation, use, and supply of psilocybin-containing mushrooms illegal. Australia is geographically isolated, and access to spores is limited; therefore, importation is quite common. This is at the risk of the individual, as spores are classed as an illegal import.

At a federal level, Psilocybe spores are quarantine prohibited via the Australian Criminal Code Regulations 2002. The whole genus, Psilocybe, is listed in the Criminal Code Regulations 2002 Schedule 5E ‘Border Controlled Plants’, part 7 stating, “Any plant of the species Psilocybe”. This is entirely unambiguous. All parts of the organism are covered regardless of drug content.

Psilocybe spores are also customs prohibited through the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations 1956. The Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations Act 1956, schedule 4, part 214 states, “Psilocybine, including all fungi that contain psilocybine”. Any plants (or parts of plants, including seeds), fungi (or parts of fungi), and plant products that are prohibited under the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations 1956 that biosecurity officers find will be referred to the Australian Customs Service. Therefore, importation of any part of the plant, including parts that do not contain psilocybin, is deemed illegal.

Within Australia, the state laws are more ambiguous, and spores sit in a grey area because they do not contain any psilocybin or psilocin. Spores are often sourced through connecting with someone who knows someone. Many online forums and Facebook groups facilitate communication with those who trade or may be willing to sell spores.

Conclusion

Psychedelics fit within a variety of narratives and are used for spiritual, therapeutic, and recreational purposes. Until the laws change or low-cost accessibility becomes possible for therapy, for most people the use of psilocybin will remain non-clinical. If you choose to use psilocybin, it is essential to do so responsibly. This means keeping in mind factors like set and setting, and going into the psychedelic experience with intention. If you haven’t experienced a psychedelic before, ask someone to be a sitter for your first time. Start low and be aware of the dose and what to expect from it. Psilocybin, while having the potential to be a potent therapeutic agent, can also trigger long-hidden emotions or memories that the user and the sitter may be unprepared for.

Until a market has been developed for the legal sale of magic mushrooms, buying them remains legally risky. The available options are either finding someone you trust, either in person or online, from whom you can purchase mushrooms, or growing your own. Regardless of your choice, be safe, and don’t be afraid to question, as you do with any other product, the manufacturing.

And please keep in mind: we’re providing this information for educational purposes only. Third Wave does not encourage or condone the use of illegal products where it is against the law.

This blog article uses affiliate links. Third Wave receives a small percentage of the product price if you purchase through any affiliate links. Read our ethics and affiliates policy here.

[1] Controlled Substances Act (CSA)
[2] Georgia General Assembly. 2017
[3] Idaho Legislature. 2017
[4] CA Legislative Information. 2015.
[5] Louisiana State Act No 159 found in, Louisiana RS 40:989.1
[6] Honig, Esther (9 May 2019). “In Close Vote, Denver Becomes First U.S. City To Decriminalize Psychedelic Mushrooms”. NPR
[7] Weise, Elizabeth; della Cava, Marco (5 June 2019). “Oakland in California legalizes magic mushrooms and peyote”. USA Today
[8] McCarthy, Kelly (29 January 2020). “Santa Cruz decriminalizes psychedelic mushrooms”. ABC News
[9] Stanton, Ryan (22 September 2020). “Ann Arbor OKs move to decriminalize psychedelic mushrooms, plants”. Mlive
[10] Siena, Nina (5 November 2020). “Oregon becomes first US state to decriminalise cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine”. International Business Times.
[11] Kreps, Daniel (4 November 2020). “Oregon Decriminalizes All Drugs, While D.C. Decriminalizes Psychedelics”. Rolling Stone
[12] Jaeger, Kyle (4 February 2021). “Cambridge City Council Decriminalizes Psychedelics And Urges Police To End Drug Arrests More Broadly”. Marijuana Moment
[13] “Consolidated federal laws of canada, Controlled Drugs and Substances Act”. laws-lois.justice.gc.ca.
[14]  Lev, Elianna (27 July 2019). “Could magic mushrooms be the next drug legalized in Canada?”. Yahoo Canada News.
[15] “Toelichting btw-tarief na vragen”. belastingdienst.nl (in Dutch).
[16] Openbaar Ministerie (12 January 2008). Paddoverbod van kracht
[17] Drugs Act 2005.

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