Are Psilocybin Mushrooms Legal in California?

are psilocybin mushrooms legal in california

The legality of psilocybin mushrooms, often referred to as “magic mushrooms,” in California is a complex and evolving issue. While these mushrooms remain illegal at the state level, some cities have decriminalized their personal use and possession. Additionally, recent legislative efforts aim to remove criminal penalties for certain naturally-occurring psychedelics statewide.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore what exactly psilocybin mushrooms are, their current legal status in California, ongoing decriminalization efforts, potential pathways to legalization, safe and responsible use, and more. Let’s dive in!

What Are Psilocybin Mushrooms?

Psilocybin mushrooms are fungi that naturally contain the compounds psilocybin and psilocin, which have mind-altering effects. There are over 300 species of psilocybin mushrooms, with the most common being Psilocybe cubensis, Psilocybe semilanceata, and Psilocybe cyanescens.

These mushrooms have been used for centuries in various indigenous cultures for spiritual and religious purposes. However, their potential medical uses, such as treating depression, anxiety, and addiction, have only recently gained mainstream attention through scientific research.

Legal Status of Psilocybin Mushrooms in California

At the state level, psilocybin mushrooms are illegal in California. Both psilocybin and psilocin are classified as Schedule I controlled substances, meaning they are considered to have a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use.

Possession of psilocybin mushrooms can result in misdemeanor charges, while larger amounts associated with distribution or sales can lead to felony charges and harsher penalties.

However, some California cities have taken steps to decriminalize the personal use and possession of psilocybin mushrooms and other naturally-occurring psychedelics:

  • Oakland: In 2019, Oakland became one of the first cities to decriminalize the adult use and possession of plant-based psychedelics, including psilocybin mushrooms.
  • Santa Cruz: In 2020, Santa Cruz followed suit and decriminalized the personal use and cultivation of psilocybin mushrooms and other entheogenic plants and fungi.
  • San Francisco: In 2022, San Francisco lawmakers unanimously approved a measure to decriminalize the use of entheogenic plants, including psilocybin mushrooms.

While city ordinances in places like Oakland and Santa Cruz have decriminalized the personal use and possession of psilocybin mushrooms within their boundaries, these substances are still classified as illegal under California state law and federal law.

California’s Changing Stance on Psychedelics

At the state level, there have been significant efforts to decriminalize certain naturally-occurring psychedelics, including psilocybin mushrooms. In 2023, the California State Senate passed Senate Bill 58 (SB 58), a bill introduced by Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco).

SB 58 would remove criminal penalties for the personal use and possession of psilocybin, psilocin, DMT, and mescaline for individuals 21 and older. The bill would not legalize the sale of these substances, and possession on school grounds would remain prohibited.

Arguments For Decriminalization

Proponents of SB 58, including veterans’ groups and mental health advocates, argue that decriminalization would:

  1. Acknowledge the therapeutic potential of psychedelics: Studies have shown promise in using psilocybin to treat conditions like depression, anxiety, and PTSD.
  2. Reduce strain on the criminal justice system: By removing criminal penalties for personal use, law enforcement resources could be redirected to more serious crimes.
  3. Align with public opinion shifts: Surveys indicate growing support for decriminalizing or legalizing psychedelics, especially for medical purposes.

Opposition to Decriminalization

However, SB 58 has faced opposition from law enforcement agencies and parental organizations, who cite concerns such as:

  1. Public safety risks: There are fears that decriminalization could lead to increased impaired driving and other public disturbances.
  2. Lack of research and regulation: Critics argue that more research is needed on the long-term effects of psychedelics before decriminalizing them.
  3. Youth access and education: There are worries that decriminalization could make it easier for underage individuals to access psychedelics without proper education on safe use.

SB 58 now heads to Governor Gavin Newsom’s desk, who will decide whether to sign it into law or veto the bill.

The Path Forward for Legal Psilocybin in California

If Governor Newsom signs SB 58 into law, it would represent a major step toward decriminalizing psilocybin mushrooms and other naturally-occurring psychedelics in California. However, even if the bill becomes law, psilocybin would still be illegal under federal law.

Additionally, there are efforts to put psychedelic legalization initiatives on the November 2024 ballot in California. One proposed initiative would legalize the use and sale of psilocybin mushrooms for individuals 21 and older, while another would seek to borrow $5 billion to establish a state agency to research psychedelic therapies.

Ultimately, the path to full legalization of psilocybin mushrooms in California may depend on the outcome of ongoing clinical trials and potential rescheduling at the federal level. Currently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has designated psilocybin as a “breakthrough therapy” for treatment-resistant depression, which could pave the way for future medical use.

Using Psilocybin Mushrooms Safely and Responsibly

using psilocybin mushrooms safely and responsibly

If and when psilocybin mushrooms become legal in California, either through decriminalization or full legalization, it will be crucial to prioritize safe and responsible use.

Importance of Set, Setting, and Responsible Use

Psychedelic experiences can be profoundly impactful, both positively and negatively. To ensure a safe and beneficial experience, it’s important to consider:

  • Set: Your mindset, intentions, and emotional state before consuming psilocybin mushrooms.
  • Setting: The physical and social environment in which you plan to use them.
  • Responsible use: Consuming psilocybin mushrooms in moderation, with a trusted guide or sitter, and in a safe, comfortable environment.

Risks of Uncontrolled or Irresponsible Use

While psilocybin mushrooms have a relatively low risk of physical harm or addiction, irresponsible use can lead to negative experiences, such as:

  • Anxiety, paranoia, or panic attacks
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Impaired judgment and decision-making

It’s crucial to educate yourself on proper dosage, potential interactions with medications or other substances, and when to seek medical attention if needed.

Accessing Legitimate Sources

If psilocybin mushrooms become legal in California, it will be essential to access them from legitimate, regulated sources. This could include licensed dispensaries, therapy centers, or other approved suppliers.

Consuming mushrooms from unknown or unregulated sources increases the risk of contamination, misidentification, or adulteration with other substances.

What Decriminalization Could Mean

If SB 58 becomes law, it would decriminalize the personal use and possession of psilocybin mushrooms and other naturally-occurring psychedelics for individuals 21 and older in California. However, it’s important to understand what this would and wouldn’t entail:

  • No more criminal penalties: Individuals would no longer face criminal charges or jail time for possessing or using small amounts of psilocybin mushrooms for personal use.
  • Licensed therapy centers: The bill would pave the way for licensed and regulated therapy centers where individuals could undergo psilocybin-assisted therapy under professional supervision.
  • Clearly defined personal possession limits: While the bill doesn’t specify exact limits, it would likely set clear thresholds for what constitutes personal use versus possession with intent to distribute.

It’s important to note that decriminalization doesn’t mean full legalization. The sale, distribution, and commercial cultivation of psilocybin mushrooms would likely remain illegal without further legislative action.

Related Topics and Additional Resources

The legality of psilocybin mushrooms is part of a broader conversation about the decriminalization and potential legalization of various psychedelic substances. Here are some related topics and additional resources:

  • Legal status in other states/countries: While the legal landscape is constantly evolving, you can find up-to-date information on the legal status of psilocybin mushrooms in other U.S. states and countries from organizations like the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) and the Drug Policy Alliance.
  • Credible research sources on psilocybin: Organizations like Johns Hopkins University, Imperial College London, and the Usona Institute are conducting groundbreaking research on the potential therapeutic applications of psilocybin and other psychedelics.
  • Addiction and mental health support resources: If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction or mental health issues, there are numerous resources available, such as the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline 1-800-662-HELP (4357) and the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).


The legality of psilocybin mushrooms in California remains a complex and rapidly evolving issue. While these mushrooms are currently illegal at the state level, efforts like Senate Bill 58 and proposed ballot initiatives could pave the way for decriminalization or even full legalization in the near future.

As the legal landscape continues to shift, it’s crucial to stay informed, prioritize safe and responsible use, and engage with this issue ethically and compassionately. By doing so, we can work towards a future where the therapeutic potential of psilocybin mushrooms and other psychedelics can be explored safely and responsibly.

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