Psilocybin mushrooms may still technically be illegal in California, but a growing number of Los Angeles-area cannabis dispensaries are selling them anyway.
Over the last six months, the LA County Sheriff's Department has served around 50 search warrants at cannabis dispensaries suspected of selling illegal shrooms. Most of these warrants were served at unlicensed pot shops in towns that still prohibit all local cannabis sales. Cops have been fighting to eradicate black market pot shops ever since California kicked off adult-use sales in 2018, but illicit shrooms are a relatively new phenomenon.
Lt. Jay Moss of the LA County Sheriff’s Department’s narcotics bureau told the Los Angeles Times that these dispensaries “won't typically openly sell” shrooms. “They’ll usually have a small amount — two to 10 pounds, I’d say — of mushrooms, and you have to ask for it because they don’t have it on display. They might be somewhere out of view, like in the back.”
Some dispensaries aren't even bothering to keep their shroom sales a secret, though. The LA Times visited a few LA County pot shops and found a variety of dried shrooms openly available for sale. Psilocybin gummies, edibles, and “mushroom-infused” tinctures were also placed prominently for sale alongside their cannabis cousins. Reporters said they didn't see anyone actually buy any of these illicit products, though.
Grey-market mushroom sales are a more common sight in Northern California, because Oakland, Santa Cruz, and San Francisco have all decriminalized mushrooms or other natural psychedelics on the local level. Los Angeles hasn't decriminalized psychedelic medicines, though, nor has any other Southern California jurisdiction. And on the state level, all psychedelics remain completely illegal, so anyone who sells or uses them can still face serious jail time.
That may soon be set to change, though. State Sen. Scott Wiener (D) is currently sponsoring a bill that would completely decriminalize psychedelics throughout all of California. The bill would not legalize mushrooms, as Colorado's laws seemingly will, but would remove criminal penalties for growing, possessing, and sharing naturally-grown entheogens like DMT, ibogaine, and psilocybin.
“The bill is very simple: it decriminalizes possession or use of certain psychedelics. It doesn’t make any sense to arrest people for possessing psychedelics,” said Wiener to the LA Times. “These substances are not addictive and they really help a lot of people with mental health and addiction challenges.”
Wiener proposed a similar bill last year, but eventually ended up abandoning it after the Assembly's Public Safety Committee “gutted” it with excessive restrictions. This time around, the senator has addressed some of the Assembly's concerns in hopes of guaranteeing its passage. Most notably, the new legislation removes synthetically-derived psychedelics like LSD and MDMA from the previous list of drugs to be decriminalized.
It's likely that the state Senate will approve the new bill, since they passed the more progressive version of the legislation last year. But once again, it remains to be seen whether the more conservative Assembly will finally recognize the healing powers of psychedelic medicine, or if they will strike the bill down again.