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The Magic Mushroom Loophole, And How to Use It

How to use magic mushroom loophole
Written by Sarah Friedman

Loopholes are great. They represent a way to get around a law by way of gray area. Though sometimes this is a bad thing, most of the time it’s good. Recently, I went into detail about the mescaline loophole and how it functions. The magic mushroom loophole operates similarly. Read on to find out what this means, and how and where you can access mushrooms, in a not completely illegal way.

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The magic mushroom loophole

Loopholes in law are technicalities that allow an entity to get around the law or restriction, without actually breaking it. The magic mushroom loophole is pretty simple, and there are two parts to it. The first goes like this: in some places in the world, the compounds inside magic mushrooms are illegal (psilocybin and psilocin), but the mushrooms themselves are not. This happens because the active compounds are put in drug scheduling, whereas the plant is not. This creates a contradiction.

If a person wants to consume the mushrooms in a place where the plant isn’t outlawed, this is possible, even if the compounds within it are illegal. But this doesn’t cover the extraction of the chemicals inside, as this is production, and production of banned substances, is illegal. Since we don’t need to extract the compounds inside, and can simply eat the mushrooms, this loophole makes it not illegal to have and use these mushrooms, in places where the fungi themselves are not defined. Sometimes the laws are in between, allowing the cultivation, but instituting a stipulation on mushroom use.

In some places, its stipulated that the mushrooms can’t be grown by the individual, and must be found in the wild; or that they must be used for religious purposes. Mexico is a great example here, as it holds it legal to pick wild mushrooms, and to use them religiously. Because of the lax policy in the country, very little legal follow-up, and a wide array of options due to the climate, Mexico has a decent size magic mushroom tourism industry.

Legal loopholes
Legal loopholes

The other aspect to the magic mushroom loophole is that the spores of mushrooms, which don’t contain the active compounds that are usually outlawed, are often legal. In tons of places, like the US, Sweden, and Australia (among many other countries) the spores are legal to buy and possess. Sometimes there isn’t a restriction on growing, but often there is a restriction on eating the mushrooms.

In the US, the first part of the loophole doesn’t apply, but the second part does. Unless the mushrooms are decriminalized or legalized (like in Oregon, or Denver), the entirety of the plant is illegal; since both the mushrooms and the compounds inside sit in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances list. However, with the exception of a few states that instituted laws about it, the spores are legal for sale and possession, and are easily bought online or in stores like dispensaries. The magic mushroom loophole is similar to a loophole for yet another psychedelic compound.

Similarity to the mescaline loophole

The psychedelic compound mescaline, found in several plant species, also has a loophole attached. These loopholes function off the same premise. That a plant itself might not be mentioned in terms of legality, but the compounds inside it are. In the case of the mescaline loophole, it affects both mescaline, and one mescaline-producing plant – the Peyote cactus, which is also Schedule I. However, other mescaline-producing plants like Peruvian Torch and San Pedro are not put in a drug scheduling category, so they are not illegal, even if the mescaline in them is.

Mescaline is a bit less illegal than psilocybin. Though both compounds have been used (and still are) extensively in native cultures as a part of religious and ritual practice, mescaline gets a pass that psilocybin doesn’t get as often, at least in the US, and that’s for religious use. In the US, the Peyote plant is legal for religious use, and not just by Native American communities.

Though it started with only Native American communities being able to partake by way of the American Indian Religious Freedom Act in 1978, this law was expanded in 1991 to include anyone who wants to use the plant religiously. Since the other cacti aren’t mentioned as illegal in the first place, it means all cacti that produce mescaline, can be grown and used. In fact, there are no restrictions on the cultivation of Peruvian Torch or San Pedro, at all.

When it comes to taking the mescaline out of the plant, this is where it gets more gray. Just like with psilocybin, at this point it counts as mescaline production, and this isn’t covered by the loophole. For the cacti that aren’t mentioned in drug scheduling, it’s still banned to extract the mescaline, or at least, it creates more gray area. A person could argue that the extraction is for religious purposes, but the law does specifically bar production of the compound.

If anything, the mescaline loophole is farther reaching, with a greater use allowance in the US, than the magic mushroom loophole. Whereas mushrooms are still criminalized in most places, just about anywhere in the USA, if a person wants to use a mescaline plant for a religious purpose, they absolutely can. And this automatically means ingestion of the mescaline.

Does the magic mushroom loophole work globally?

Actually, the first part of the magic mushroom loophole only works in locations outside the US, because the US does have both the compounds, and the mushrooms, in drug scheduling. This is not true in other countries that illegalize the former, and not the latter. So in places like Poland, the Philippines, and Israel, you can grow mushrooms, even though what’s in them is deemed illegal.

There are sometimes stipulations about what they’re grown for, and some of these stipulations bar the use of the mushrooms. But, let’s be honest, once there’s a legal allowance to have and grow them, its much harder to regulate their consumption. For a full list of specific country laws about magic mushrooms and psilocybin, and where you can legally access them, look here.

When looking at it globally, the loophole holds. And it’s actually global policy that highlights it. In 1971, the UN held a conference like it did about 10 years before, to discuss drug policy between member countries, and to come up with international drug scheduling laws. The first conference, in 1961, was the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, which was used to illegalize substances like cannabis, cocaine, and heroin. Then in 1971, another conference was held, the Convention on Psychotropic Substances, this time focusing on the psychotropic substances not mentioned in the first conference.

In this convention, psychedelics were added in, and the scheduling guidelines outlaw psilocybin and psilocin, but make no mention of the mushrooms themselves. According to the act, what is illegal is defined as “any material, compound, mixture, or preparation, substances which contains any quantity of the following hallucinogenic substances, or which contains any of their salts, isomers, and salts of isomers whenever the existence of such salts, isomers, and salts of isomers is possible within the specific chemical designation.”

That covers the compounds inside. The discrepancy between the compounds and the plant was made clear, though, in September 2001, when Herbert Schaepe – the secretary of the board for the (INCB) International Narcotics Control Board, the independent body which monitors UN drug treaty implementation, gave this response to the Dutch Ministry of Health, in reference to magic mushroom legality:

Magic mushrooms
Magic mushrooms

“As a matter of international law, no plants (natural material) containing psilocine and psilocybin are at present controlled under the Convention on Psychotropic Substances of 1971. Consequently, preparations made of these plants are not under international control and, therefore, not subject of the articles of the 1971 Convention.”  

Are mushrooms fully legal anywhere?

Yes, yes they are. And in some places, even if not fully legalized, they’re legal enough to use them. Countries with full allowances include Bahamas, Brazil, Jamaica, Nepal, Netherlands (as truffles only), and Samoa. These are great places to go if you want to get your trip-on, and don’t want to worry about any legal repercussions. Jamaica is currently at the top of the industry, offering tons of vacation packages for the magic mushroom minded, which vary in price and location, but offer fantastic trips with beautiful scenery, and plenty of magic mushroom ceremonies.

In terms of places where there isn’t a full legal allowance, but there’s some, check out the following countries. In Austria, you can have, use, and grow mushrooms, but you can’t buy or sell them. In the British Virgin Islands you can possess and cultivate them, but sale and transport are illegal. In Greece, the possession, sale and transport are illegal, but the cultivation is legal, and sale and possession can be okay if treated as psilocin mushrooms and not psilocybin mushrooms.

In Uruguay and Portugal they are decriminalized for use, while Uruguay still holds sale, cultivation, and transport as illegal. And, of course, in the US states where legalizations or decriminalization measures have passed, magic mushrooms can be used either legally, or with non-criminal penalties.

In yet more places, the mushrooms are illegal, but the laws are so rarely enforced, that it almost doesn’t matter. This is the case in Canada (which is pushing hard for a medical legalization, and which allows exemptions for some medical use already); Chile, which decriminalized small amounts for possession and use; Spain, where personal use and cultivation are decriminalized; and Vietnam where ornamental and scientific uses are legal, and other use is usually ignored.

Then you’ve got Thailand, which currently holds magic mushrooms as illegal, but which is looking to get into the medical mushrooms game. Right now, mushrooms are a big tourist industry in the country, and law enforcement generally turns a blind eye. The government recently announced a research project whereby mushroom therapy can be accessed by those in need; and its thought that the country might start leaning toward a medical mushrooms tourism industry.

Magic mushroom loophole
Magic mushroom loophole

Conclusion

There you have it. The magic mushroom loophole makes it easier to consume mushrooms in some places, and to have and use the spores. As the world continues to get more progressive with drugs, we can expect some of these laws to loosen, and for more legalizations to pass through.

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About the author

Sarah Friedman

I look stuff up and and write stuff down, in order to make sense of the world around. And I travel a lot too.

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