With psychedelic mushrooms making headlines in clinical trials and touted as a treatment for depression, end-of-life anxiety and addiction, it’s no wonder the fungi are having a moment. But as psilocybin mushroom enthusiasts take to the woods and online, the question remains: Are magic mushrooms legal in Canada?
Why are mushrooms so called?
Despite the fact that gray market psilocybin mushrooms are available to buy in store fronts and online, it is still illegal to possess or consume guide to psilocybin mushrooms in Canada. Psilocybin is a Schedule III drug under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, meaning it is strictly prohibited unless it has been approved by Health Canada in the context of a clinical trial or through one of its exemption programs.
In the past, this has led to criminal prosecutions, including imprisonment. But RCMP officers on Vancouver Island and in the Queen Charlottes say they’re not arresting mushroom pickers this year. A number of experienced pickers we spoke with said police simply observe them and leave them alone. They also noted that most mushroom growers avoid the bitter-tasting psilocybin-producing Liberty Cap species and only pick a few of the larger, more pleasant-tasting Psilocybe cubensis.
But a new law could put those mushroom pickers in danger. Bill C-54, which was passed in November of 2023, will make possession of “psilocybin fungi” an offense punishable by up to 10 years in prison. The legislation requires that the Crown establish that a person had the intent to possess the fungi and that it was in his or her control, care or custody at the time of the offense.