Toronto mushroom dispensaries remain open despite being illegal

Dispensaries selling psilocybin products are opening across Toronto despite being illegal. Mark McAllister questions City Hall and Toronto police about why there's nothing being done here when other cities have shut them down. 

By Mark McAllister

The large number of magic mushroom stores opening throughout Toronto may continue that way as Toronto police deal with other priorities and the city says it has no jurisdiction.

The shops can be seen sprouting up along the city’s main streets with bright-coloured signs and branding with catchy names like FunGuyz or Shroomyz. Each sells a variety of products with psilocybin, an illegal substance in Canada, but remain open to the public with regular customers.

“We literally don’t have a tool, as a city, around this,” city councillor Gord Perks tells CityNews. “This is a criminal code violation and it’s the police that [handle] that.”

Perks emphasized there are only a few select types of businesses that the city issues licenses for, including restaurants and bars, for public health reasons. If an area is zoned for retail and an agreement is in place with a landlord to have a store in place, he said the city has no means of shutting it down.

“If you’re running a comic book store, we don’t issue a business license for a comic book store to set up your comic book store. There’s no category for this,” he said.

Over the last couple of weeks, mushroom stores have been raided by police in both Montreal and Hamilton and closed with charges laid in each case.

Soon after an illegal dispensary opened in Montreal on July 11, police moved in and confiscated all the products. Four arrests were made, including one woman charged with trafficking an illegal substance.

On July 6, Hamilton Police executed search warrants at two separate storefront businesses, resulting in over $70,000 worth of psilocybin products being confiscated and two people arrested.

A spokesperson for Toronto police, meanwhile, has told CityNews that illegal dispensaries are investigated when reports are made. The service’s drug enforcement at this time, however, is “largely focused on the trafficking of illegal drugs that are resulting in overdose deaths.” It cites the need to concentrate on the supply of fentanyl in the midst of an opioid crisis.

Toronto police raided a magic mushroom shop back in Nov. 2022 in which two people were arrested and dried psilocybin and Psilocybin-derived edibles were allegedly seized.

Many cannabis retailers began to open storefront locations before marijuana was legalized and regulated in Ontario, but there are no signs that laws surrounding psilocybin will change anytime soon.

A statement from Toronto’s Municipal Licensing & Standards division states the powers granted to the city under Ontario’s Cannabis Control Act, such as issuing closure orders and barring entry into premises, do not apply to stores selling psilocybin mushrooms.

“I think that the federal government has to make up their mind how they want to treat these drugs,” Perks said. “In the meantime, it’s a violation of the criminal code, and that’s a police matter.”

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