Yves here. Psychedelics have a very long history in religious ceremonies and more recently in self-discovery. But these mushroom sales showcase many of the worst aspects of dietary supplement and illegal drug use. Not sure how potent you are getting. Generally, the risk is that you receive less than you paid for, but you could end up with a surprisingly high dose. And there are risks of contamination and the presence of undesirable and possibly even dangerous substances.
By Sam Ogozalek. Originally posted on Tampa Bay Weather
When a hemp dispensary in this Florida town began stocking edibles with certain mushroom extracts last year, state regulators quickly ordered it to stop selling the items.
The store advertised fruit-flavored gummies and other products containing tiny doses of mood-altering chemicals from the fungus. amanita muscaria. The red-headed white-spotted mushroom – rooted in popular culture through the Super Mario Nintendo game franchise, “The Smurfs” and “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” – is legal for consumers to possess and eat in all states except Louisiana, according to a review of state laws.
Products containing mushroom extracts have been popping up in stores and online retailers from Florida to Minnesota and from Nebraska to Pennsylvania. The companies advertise a milder high compared to psilocybin, the Schedule 1 psychedelic that remains nationally illegal, for people hoping to relieve anxiety, depression or joint pain.
But federal officials and mushroom experts have urged caution, and Florida regulators have cracked down on sales in at least five counties. Some uses of the mushroom and its chemicals have resulted in serious side effects, including delirium with drowsiness and coma, according to FDA spokeswoman Courtney Rhodes.
No human clinical trials have evaluated the safety and efficacy of the products, said Heather Hallen Adamsfaculty member at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, who studies fungi in food.
Chilluma hemp dispensary in the Ybor City neighborhood, stopped selling the edibles in December after regulators with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services ordered it to do so, calling A. muscaria a dangerous ingredient. The store returned $30,000 worth of merchandise to Psilo Mart, a Las Vegas-area supplier that claims to import the mushroom from Lithuania. The Department of Agriculture, which regulates stores that sell products like hemp vapes, then has lifted its restrictions on the dispensary.
Drew Gennuso, president of Psilo Mart, said he hadn’t heard of any “major issues” with edibles. Chillum owner Carlos Hermida said he believed the products were safe.
“It’s so sweet,” he said of the effects of the mushroom. “It’s not something where you’re going to smell the color purple.”
Hermida recently started selling the products again for between $20 and $55 – but, trying to avoid another order from the state, he said Chillum had added labels warning they were for ‘educational’ purposes only or “spiritual” and not for human consumption.
Federal authorities have not approved the mushroom and its chemicals for sale as food additives or to treat medical conditions.
The Tampa case highlights shortcomings in oversight of this nascent national market despite concerns from federal officials.
“Companies move faster than research,” said John Michelotti, who heads the Medicinal Mushrooms Committee of the North American Mycological Association and founded Catskill Fungi, an upstate New York company that sells mushroom extracts.
“It’s the Wild West.”
The crackdown in Chillum began in October. The Florida Department of Agriculture collected product samples for laboratory tests. Back in December, the agency said a Psilo Mart hemp joint with A. muscaria the gunpowder had high levels of toxic heavy metals, department records show.
Hermida threw away its inventory of mushroom joints, he said, and regulators ordered it to stop selling the other fungal products. They cited a state law that says food is “adulterated” if it “carries or contains any poisonous or deleterious substance which may render it injurious to health.”
The gummies with the extracts cause a “high and drunk” feeling, Hermida said, while the capsules cause a “body tingling sensation” and disrupt depth perception.
The Florida Poison Information Center in Tampa gets one report a week, on average, of hallucinogenic mushroom poisoning, but many callers don’t explain what kind they ate, and doctors don’t have a quick way to check. , said Alexandra Funk, its managing director. She says A. muscaria products should be kept away from children.
In the Tampa Bay area, medical examiners have recorded no recent deaths from the fungus. Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg and local AdventHealth ERs have not seen any poisonings, spokespersons said. But there seems to be a lack of routine testing for the fungus.
Edibles sold at Chillum appealed to Antwan Towner, a 40-year-old magician from Ybor City who said he struggles with anxiety. He eats half a piece of gum when he’s having a bad day, he said, and it produces euphoria that lasts about four hours and then peace of mind for a week. He said he had no negative reaction or hallucinations.
“It was never about getting high,” he said. “It was just about trying something that might be effective.”
There’s “a lot of anecdotal evidence” that low doses of mushrooms can be therapeutically helpful, said Hallen-Adams, who chairs the North American Mycological Association’s toxicology committee.
But more data is needed to prove whether it helps people with various medical conditions or if it’s just a placebo, she said.
The Toronto company, Mental well-beingconducted preclinical studies on its “Calm” extract, a sleep aid, CEO Jeffrey Stevens said.
Other companies, Stevens said, have not invested in such research. “We have so many cowboys right now who are just saying, ‘Oh, that’s a legal psychedelic mushroom, let’s just put the product on the market.'”
Since early February, Florida regulators have cited five businesses in Daytona Beach, Largo, Plant City, Tallahassee and Tamarac for selling merchandise containing A. muscaria, according to state Department of Agriculture records. Because federal authorities have not approved the fungus for use in food, the Florida agency is ordering companies to stop selling these products when its inspectors find them, wrote Department of Health spokesman Aaron Keller. state agriculture, in an email.
In this emerging market with many unknowns, Hallen-Adams urged consumers to “be careful if this is something you’re going to experience.”
According to Chillum’s new labeling, consuming the edibles it sells is “product abuse,” Hermida said.
“If you want to study it, or if you want to pray to it, that’s fine with me.”