What do Peru, the Netherlands, Nepal, and Jamaica have in common?
All are ‘Psychedelic-friendly countries’, where psilocybin can be consumed legally!
Alrighty Spore Drop fam! Here is your friendly (biased- I admit), beginners introduction to the legality of psilocybin- in New Zealand and around the world.
This is a hot topic in the news, and an area we love following to see the monumental shifts happening in sociocultural perception and legality around the world! We get excited about the future of psilocybin availability in safe and secure environments for folks struggling with mental health issues, or for the healthy humans seeking greater happiness and purpose in their lives- man, even a responsible recreational experience is okay in our books.
This is a medicine that has hugely affected both Dave and I, and has added incomparable depths of healing and clarity to our lives. We love exploring the topic with friends and family, and hearing about how psilocybin has impacted you!
This topic of conversation arises frequently within our Flow State community. Naturally- as we openly expressed our pro-psilocybin sentiments with our pre-insta banned account tagline of “let’s start the chat on psilocybin”.
To be clear- the mushroom extracts we supply are 100% legal. We do NOT supply psilocybin mushrooms in any form, and cannot help you to locate them. Do we dream of a day when this would legally be possible? Absolutely.
So, let’s dive in. We’re providing a birds eye view on…
-legal status of psilocybin in NZ
-safety of psilocybin compared with other widely used substances
-questions we love exploring on the future of psilocybin around the world
-the different legal statuses worldwide and what each looks like in practice
Despite the recent upsurge in academic research documenting the positive emotional, social, psychological, and spiritual effects of psilocybin (magic) mushrooms, nature’s psychedelic fungi friends remain illegal in the majority of Western countries. This includes yours truly, Aotearoa, New Zealand.
“In New Zealand, magic mushrooms and their active ingredient psilocybin sit next to heroin at the top of the list of prohibited drugs, carrying a maximum of life in prison for supply.
But an underground movement of sick Kiwis using the drugs to 'micro-dose' - taking tiny amounts for medical purposes - are saying psilocybin can work when all other treatments fail.”
Great wee 10-minute documentary from Newshub to watch here:
We are literally living in a world of positive clinical research and ample resources for safe and effective psilocybin use within a backdrop of decades of propaganda and misinformation, and an outdated political framework that profits extensively off the sale of two of the most dangerous drugs on the market- alcohol and tobacco.
In 2018, the government of New Zealand collected $1.7 billion dollars of taxes from tobacco, and nearly $700 million dollars of taxes from alcohol.
This too, comes as no surprise, as the longstanding normalisation of alcohol and tobacco consumption alongside the demonisation of unregulated recreational drugs is nothing new.
This 2010 Lancet published diagram is a tell-tale visual of the twisted reality our current legal framework exists within.
If you haven’t seen this chart before, I hope it’s an eye opener! Despite alcohol and tobacco being widely available in supermarkets, convenience stores, bars, and speciality shops, these legal substances are the 1st and 6th most dangerous (in terms of harm caused to self and others) on the legitimate and black market. Shift your focus down to the verrrrrry bottom of the list to see where psilocybin sits. Hello there little friend. I almost didn’t see you there you nearly slipped off the scale all together!
Not saying psilocybin should be legalised overnight and made available to the masses. Absolutely not! Depending on the dose, set, and setting, it can be an intense psychological, emotional, and physical psychedelic experience. Trust me, we know- you know, from our time spent in countries where psilocybin is legal to consumer. No, it won’t and shouldn’t change overnight, but given the cultural climate of alcohol use- which leads to addiction, family fragmentation, violence, mental health woes, not to mention the effects of a body’s biology- we are ready for a shift.
We are definitely on the road of change, and the conversation is well on its way. Medical breakthroughs, as well as the benefits of micro-dosing are being researched around the world. However, it is definitely time to start getting honest with psychedelic use and sharing experiences with friends and family who may have a biased, uninformed opinion. Part of the changing culture of psilocybin is de-stigmatising its use and normalising the experience of micro, or macro dosing in a safe and responsible way.
Should psilocybin be regulated? Does it need to be regulated to be safe? Or is it better to keep cultivation in the hands of small, independent, growers?
If it is legalised, will it be taken over by big pharma?
If available therapeutically, will it be accessible to low socioeconomic populations?
How do we shift from a culture of harmful binge drinking to one of respectful, informed, and responsible use of plant medicine?
Should it only be medicinal? Or recreational too?
How can we find the balance of safe cultivation and foraging alongside regulation and responsible use?
These questions and more have likely arisen in your own conversations on the subject, as the legal status of psilocybin is rapidly shifting worldwide.
Responsible, respectful use of plant medicines is super important to us. Not only does it recognise the significance of the experience, but is often leads to a much more positive, supported experience and pays homage to the traditional power of these medicines.
All the research (prior to the psychedelic renaissance of the 2010s and beyond, there were hundreds of peer reviewed scientific studies published in the 40s, 50s, and 60s) points to the importance of set (mindset), setting (external environment), and dose, as influential to the quality of the experience.
It’s hard not to go off on a million different tangents on this subject, but as I try to reel in and contain my thoughts on a multifaceted topic- of which I recognise my opinion is massively biased- let us focus the conversation the different directions we’re seeing within the legal status of psilocybin around the world, and what that really means.
In some parts of the world, where psilocybin mushrooms grow naturally, it is legal to possess and consume them. However, their sale may still be considered illegal. This is the case in the British Virgin Islands, Brazil, the Bahamas, Jamaica, and Nepal.
Interestingly, in the Netherlands, psychedelic truffles are legal for cultivation, sale, and consumption, even though magic mushrooms are illegal under Dutch law. These truffles are derived from the same fungi as mushrooms and have very similar effects.
In November 2020, the state of Oregon became the first state in the USA to push for legalisation completely. The bill, Measure 109, will allow for legal access to psilocybin for mental health treatment when it becomes available.
Psilocybin is considered a class A drug, alongside heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamines. Possession, cultivation, or sale of psilocybin mushrooms can result serious legal action, including time in jail. Psilocybin mushrooms are a Class A drug in New Zealand, and the maximum penalty for cultivation and supplying to others is life in prison.
Decriminalization is the act of removing criminal sanctions against an act, article, or behaviour. Decriminalization of psilocybin means it would remain illegal, but the legal system would not prosecute a person for possession under a specified amount. Some specific states and cities in the USA have taken this route, including the state of Oregon, the cities of Denver (Colorado), Oakland and Santa Cruz (California), Washington DC, Somerville and Cambridge (Massachusetts).
Despite psilocybin being illegal at the Federal level, this means that local law enforcement are not encouraged to pursue criminal action towards those found in possession or under the influence of psilocybin.
This somewhat ambiguous legal grey area means the law is also open for interpretation in these localities. Prosecutors would likely consider the volume, context, and prior criminal record when making a ruling.
Some countries allow for the legal use of psilocybin in a clinical, medical context. Canada, for example, has recently announced the legalisation of using magic mushrooms for special cases and exempted persons. Mainly, for mental health issues, terminal illness, or severe anxiety or depression. It is possible to receive a license in Canada to cultivate and research magic mushrooms and create products solely for medical purposes.
The Netherlands is said to be one of the best countries worldwide to participate in psychedelic therapies. There are many legal organisations committed to creating a safe, effective, and sacred experience.
Clinical trials are currently taking place in New Zealand, which is super exciting for the future of psychedelic therapy.
In many countries in South and Central America, psilocybin and other traditional plant medicines are used in ceremonial and traditional contexts. Often administered in a ritualistic way, with a shaman present to guide the ceremony and hold space for the experience.
In the USA, many plant medicine focus churches have popped up in the last decade and have managed to legally host ceremonies for their church members. The overlap of spiritual and psychedelic experiences is well known to any who have journeyed with the medicine themselves. It is also documented in academic research by the famous 2018 publication by Dr. Roland Griffiths. Many participants noted their experience with psilocybin as one of the most significant experiences of their lives- on par with childbirth, marriage, and death of a loved one.
Article available here:
To wrap up - psilocybin is not for everyone. It is not the be all end all cure to global unhappiness and mental health woes. However, freedom to explore consciousness (if done without harm to self and others), should be the choice of the individual- or, the whole, as the individual idea of ‘you’ may very well be obliterated once you work with these medicines.
“Psychedelics are illegal not because a loving government is concerned that you may jump out of a third story window. Psychedelics are illegal because they dissolve opinion structures and culturally laid down models of behaviour and information processing. They open you up to the possibility that everything you know is wrong.”
― Terence McKenna