Magic mushrooms are fungi that contain the hallucinogenic substance psilocybin--which produces a 6 hour psychedelic journey, similar to LSD--and have been used shamanically by indigenous people in Central America, and elsewhere, since prehistory.
There are approximately 190 different species of mushrooms growing around the globe that contain psilocybin.
But growing psychedelic mushrooms yourself from spores is not only illegal in most parts of the world, it’s often exceedingly difficult.
Mushrooms are the fruit of a complex growing cycle, that progresses from tiny spores, to an underground, threadlike network called “mycelium,” which eventually emerges aboveground as spore-carrying mushrooms.
However, unless you have a good understanding of mycology, and a completely sterile laboratory environment to work in, contamination will likely ruin your fragile mycelium network before you can even get it out of a Petri dish and into a growing medium.
This is why numerous internet sites advertise trouble-free, magic mushroom growing kits.
These growing kits include preloaded, spore syringes (or early stage mycelium), and sterile spawn bags with injection ports, that supposedly solve the problem of needing a completely sterile work environment
The spore syringes are legal in most places, because they do not contain psilocybin (or psilocin), which are controlled substances.
However, growing the magic mushroom mycelium to fruit is illegal in most places, so the kits, with spores or early stage mycelium, are only sold for mycology-based genetic banking, genetic mapping, or forensic studies.
But these mycelium grow kits are sold with a wink, and many people use them to illegally cultivate magic mushrooms, so I queried some online mushroom-growing outlaws to see how well these grow kits actually work.
One person wrote me saying, “I have used these sites quite often...They have always been fantastic, never any negative legal issue, and always able to produce good flushes of mushrooms!”
Another person wrote saying,“One of my good friends has had much success with growing, using spore syringes. He can go from start to finish in 3 weeks!”
Someone else said, “My roommate had a kit...got a decent crop...and ate them all himself, the greedy bastard.”
“I’ve had 3 positive experiences using preloaded spore syringes,” said another.
I received a negative report from this person, “Contamination from mold thwarted me on three attempts, even with a glove-box. I gave up. Don’t know if the contamination was from pre-loaded syringes, but I did try 3 genotypes (all from the same source though).”
This person sent me a mixed report, “I have experienced success as well as failure with these kits.”
Regardless of the legal status of the mushroom growing kits, in the United States, possession of psilocybin-containing mushrooms is highly illegal--it’s a serious criminal offense--as psilocybin is classified as a Schedule I drug by the federal government.
However, magic mushroom spores, which do not contain any psychoactive substances, are only illegal in 3 states: Georgia, Idaho, and, I’m sorry to say, California.
Nonetheless, this is a grey area. In most states, if one possesses psilocybin mushroom spores, with the intent to grow psychoactive mushrooms, then this possession is generally considered to be a crime.
Although receiving magic mushroom spores in the mail is not viewed a crime in most states, if the police or federal agents can demonstrate that one intends to cultivate and consume psychoactive mushrooms, then receiving the spores in the mail could be used as evidence in a criminal prosecution.
However, according to drug policy expert Earth Erowid, “...to keep the risks in perspective, it is expensive to investigate this type of grey-area crime. In some areas, evidence of having received non-controlled spores will not be enough for law enforcement to be granted a further search warrant. Police and federal agents are far more likely to investigate further for individuals they believe may be growing mushrooms for sale or distribution."
Magic mushrooms aside, there are plenty of wonderful edible and medicinal mushrooms that one can grow here in California.
Fungi Perfecti is a cornucopia for mushroom enthusiasts. They offer a variety of indoor mushroom patches, ready-to-use kits that consist of pure mushroom mycelium growing on a sterilized medium, such sawdust or wood chips.
While they don’t have any psychedelic mushroom patches for sale, they do have Shiitake, Reishi, and Pearl Oyster, and other tasty and health-enhancing fungi.
Mushroom expert Paul Stamets, who founded Fungi Perfecti, is the author of some of the most well-respected books on growing edible and medicinal mushrooms, such as Mycelium Running, Growing Gourmet & Medicinal Mushrooms, and The Mushroom Cultivator.
However, it’s interesting to note that one of Stamets’ first books about mushrooms was the classic field guide, Psilocybin Mushrooms of the World, which allows people to identify naturally-occuring magic mushrooms in the wild.
To learn more about Fungi Perfecti, and how mushrooms can help to heal the our damaged biosphere, see: www.fungi.com
If you enjoy my column, and want to learn more about psychedelic and cannabis culture, “like” my Facebook page:
and follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/DavidJayBrown