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Where are Psychedelics Legal or Decriminalized? -

Where are Psychedelics Legal or Decriminalized?

October 11, 2022
Legal or Decriminalized Psychedelics
Legal or Decriminalized Psychedelics

The sale, cultivation, and use of psychedelic drugs is illegal in most countries. But there are some exceptions, and as the laws concerning psychedelics are constantly changing, it could be a matter of time before these drugs have been decriminalized in most countries.

Are Psychedelic Mushrooms Legal?

Magic mushrooms are some of the most widely decriminalized of all classical psychedelics.

In the late 2010s, there was a movement to decriminalize psilocybin, with proponents arguing that it offered a number of health benefits and was much safer than legal drugs like alcohol and nicotine.

Denver, Colorado because the first city to decriminalize psilocybin back in May 2019, and the Californian cities of Oakland and Santa Cruz soon followed.

In the years since then, a number of other cities have decriminalized the drug, including Somerville in Massachusetts and Seattle in Washington. 2020 also saw the passing of Oregon Ballot Measure 109, which decriminalized psilocybin mushrooms in the state of Oregon and also legalized them for therapeutic use.

As always, state and federal law are two different things entirely and magic mushrooms are still illegal under federal law.

Where are Psilocybin Mushrooms Legal?

Technically, psilocybin use is prohibited in the United States, despite the exceptions noted above. This is not the only country with caveats, and things are even more confusing in Canada.

As things stand, psilocybin is illegal throughout Canada, but the laws are not enforced. It is possible to buy edibles that contain psilocybin from online dispensaries and other storefronts. There has also been a push toward legalizing the drug for therapeutic use and it seems inevitable that Canada will one day legalize psilocybin for everyone.

The Netherlands is another country with somewhat ambiguous laws.

As in Canada and the US, magic mushrooms are illegal in the Netherlands, but magic truffles are legal. Magic truffles are created by the same mycelium that produces the fruiting bodies we know as “magic mushrooms”, and they contain the same psychedelic compounds, albeit to a lesser extent.

See the table below for a list of countries and their respective laws concerning psilocybin mushrooms.

CountryPsilocybin Mushrooms Legal Status
British Virgin IslandsLegal
CanadaIllegal (largely unenforced)
Cyprus Decriminalized 
Czech RepublicDecriminalized
Hong KongIllegal
Japan Illegal
MexicoIllegal (largely unenforced)
New Zealand Illegal
South AfricaIllegal
Sri LankaIllegal
United KingdomIllegal
United StatesIllegal (decriminalized in some states)

Where is DMT Legal?

DMT is one of the active ingredients in ayahuasca, a drink made from a variety of psychoactive plants. In most parts of the world, DMT is a controlled substance, and the same applies to ayahuasca.

In the United Kingdom, for instance, DMT and all substances containing DMT are Class A, which is equivalent to Schedule I in the United States.

In Australia, such formulations are Schedule 9. That might seem lenient if you assume a system similar to the one used in the US, but it’s not, and it means that DMT has the same classification as MDMA and heroin.

Sweden, Italy, Germany, Ireland, and most other European nations also take a very firm stance when it comes to ayahuasca. It’s a different story in the Americas, though.

Here in North America, ayahuasca is largely illegal, but with exceptions for religious use. In Mexico, it’s fully legal, which is why many ayahuasca retreats are based in the country. It’s a similar story in Costa Rica.

Several South American countries have also legalized ayahuasca (along with other entheogenic plants), including Brazil and Peru.

Where is Mescaline Legal?

Mescaline, like ayahuasca, is often provided by healing centers and religious retreats in Central and South America. However, there are more grey areas and loopholes.

In Mexico, for instance, mescaline and peyote (which contain mescaline) are illegal. However, San Pedro and Peruvian Torch cacti are seemingly not covered by the same law, and yet they both contain mescaline.

In the United States, peyote can be used for religious ceremonies as per the American Indian Religious Freedom Act, but it is still technically illegal.

In many European countries, including Sweden and the United Kingdom, it’s legal to possess and even grow mescaline-containing cacti, but it becomes illegal as soon as those cacti are prepared for consumption.

Where is LSD Legal?

The effects of LSD aren’t too dissimilar to magic mushrooms and other natural psychedelics, but the fact that it’s synthetic means it’s not subject to the same loopholes and grey areas as entheogenic plants and fungi.

LSD is an illegal drug in the United States, where it is classified as Schedule I under the Controlled Substances Act. In Canada, it falls under Schedule III of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.

Why Was LSD Made Illegal?

In the mid-1960s, the counterculture movement was in full swing. LSD and magic mushrooms were being used freely and there were also a number of exciting studies being conducted on the possible therapeutic effects of these drugs.

But then the backlash began, with many concerned that LSD was corrupting the youth and damaging society. As a result, the drug was declared a Schedule I substance.

According to the classification of “Schedule I”, this means that LSD was deemed to:

  • Have a high potential for abuse
  • Have no accepted medical use
  • Have no accepted safety of use

The US Drug Enforcement Administration declared that the drug has not proven to provide any medical benefits despite extensive studies, noting that it does not produce any “aphrodisiac effects” and “does not increase creativity [or have] a lasting effect in treating alcoholics or criminals”.

They added that the drug could cause a number of adverse reactions, including “panic reactions” and “flashbacks”.

Several local jurisdictions banned the drug initially and other states soon followed.

Why are Psychedelics Illegal?

Even if we accept the official word on LSD, why have all psychedelics been given the same treatment?

How is it okay for a drug to be used for religious purposes but not at any other time or for any other reason?

After all, while it’s true that psychedelics can cause panic and that they shouldn’t be used by people with a history of psychosis, there is also very little potential for abuse, no risk of addiction, and little chance of an overdose. What’s more, psilocybin treatment trials suggest that these drugs could be used to treat a range of mental health conditions.

Conspiracy theorists may tell you that psychedelics are illegal because they compete with mainstream religion, but while this could be viable in the US, it wouldn’t account for countries like the UK, where over 52% of the population describe their religion as “none”.

Some have argued that the government fears free thinkers. Others think it’s more of a public safety issue.

It’s hard to say for sure, but there is certainly a lot of hypocrisy surrounding the criminalization of these drugs. After all, psilocybin remains a Schedule I substance even though it has been given Breakthrough Therapy Status, which means it has been recognized for its potential to treat serious or life-threatening illnesses.

In other words, it has therapeutic benefits and could be approved as a future treatment, yet it’s still included in a category for drugs with no accepted medical use.

Summary: The Legal Status of Psychedelic and Entheogenic Plants and Fungi

Psychedelic drugs are illegal in large parts of the world, but there are grey areas that allow for the use of entheogenic plants and fungi in spiritual and religious ceremonies. We’re also seeing an increasing number of countries decriminalizing these drugs, which means you can’t cultivate or sell them, but you won’t be charged for minor drug possession.

As things stand, however, if you want the full legal psychedelic experience, you need to head down to Mexico, Brazil, or Peru and partake in some naturally occurring psychedelics.