The psychedelic mushroom dispensary sprouting across North America signal a dramatic shift in how Americans think about these federally outlawed fungi. The stores serve not just intrepid psychonauts who want to explore the inner reaches of their mind with mind-altering drugs but also folks who are seeking alternative therapies for mental health problems such as anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
The new shops aren’t just selling mushrooms but a range of related products such as psilocybin-infused drinks, gummies and powders. They operate in a legal gray area similar to marijuana dispensaries, which take advantage of the patchwork of state laws loosening cannabis restrictions.
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At Chillum Mushroom and Hemp Dispensary in Ybor City, Florida, owner Carlos Hermida says his store is the first to offer psilocybin mushrooms for sale in the country. He imports the mushrooms from Lithuania and cooks them, which he claims reduces their toxicity. Then he sells them in capsules, gummies and powders as well as mycology growth kits for those who want to try growing their own.
The popularity of the shops, some of which are open to anyone who shows a state-issued identification, is spurred by the success of marijuana dispensaries and the growing body of research suggesting that psychedelics can help alleviate PTSD, depression, and anxiety. However, the lack of regulation could expose customers to risks like panic attacks or contaminated mushrooms. More sanctioned, regulated mushroom dispensaries are in the works as advocates follow lessons learned from the cannabis industry.