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With Magic Mushrooms, Small Businesses Lead, Hoping Laws Will Follow

An underground economy is thriving as laws around the illegal fungi loosen. Here’s how businesses are rushing to take advantage of the changing paradigms on psilocybin.
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Illustration: Cynthia Kittler

Corrected

It’s hard to miss the bright green banner draped over Vancouver’s Coca Leaf Café that declares: MUSHROOM DISPENSARY. Inside, aging hippies, solitary businessmen, and streetwear-clad youth peruse glass cases filled with a dozen strains of “magic” mushrooms with names such as Penis Envy and Jedi Mind Trick. Also on the menu at the little shop in the city’s rapidly gentrifying Chinatown are mushroom chocolates and microdosing capsules, as well as more advanced offerings including LSD tinctures and vape cartridges containing DMT (the active ingredient in ayahuasca). To make a purchase, flash an ID, sign a health form, buy a product, and—if inclined—leave a Google review.

Magic mushrooms are moving from the margins to the mainstream. In the past two years, at least six ’shroom dispensaries have opened in Vancouver, which has become a key testing ground for broader policy reform and where hard drugs will soon be decriminalized. Similar—albeit more discreet—shops are opening in US cities where mushrooms have been decriminalized, such as Oakland, Calif., and Portland, Ore.