The founders of three Vancouver-area psychedelic start-ups—Bella Family Farms, Alice Mushrooms and Shroomboom—come from different backgrounds. For Bell Family Farms co-founder Mike Ball, his legal run-in with the law over cannabis led to a shift toward psilocybin-containing mushrooms.
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For Shroomies Canada co-founder Alejandra Rodriguez, overcoming an eating disorder inspired her to explore the effects of mushrooms. And for self-described “contemporary shamans” Gary Logan and Robert Grover, their mushroom journeys are part of a larger holistic health program that also includes somatic and mindset training.
But even as these entrepreneurs are expanding their businesses and bringing new people into the mushroom world, the government is shutting down avenues for legal access to the drug. That’s despite the fact that Canadians are increasingly using mushrooms for medical purposes. For example, in the past two years, four incurable cancer patients were granted a federal exemption by former health minister Patty Hajdu to use psilocybin in a therapy that eased their suffering.
Until recently, those with an exemption could not legally purchase mushrooms or have them delivered to their homes. That is changing. But it will take time, and it’s still illegal.
The active ingredients in magic mushrooms—psilocybin and psilocin—are psychoactive drugs that produce hallucinations. They are controlled internationally under the United Nations Drug Control Conventions and, in Canada, under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA). The sale, possession and production of the mushrooms and their metabolites are prohibited unless authorized by Health Canada, either through an exemption or licence.