Magic mushroom dispensary opens in Winnipeg’s Osborne Village

An Ontario-based corporation has opened a magic mushroom dispensary in Winnipeg, as the under-the-table psychedelics market continues to grow across the country.

Magic Mush opened its doors along the main drag of Osborne Street with an eye-catching storefront spray-painted with colourful mushrooms.

The general manager, who wished to remain anonymous, says there are two other locations in Ottawa and Toronto, Ont.

The legal grounds for operation in this province, he says, are a bit hazy.

“It’s a grey area. It’s allowed to run in B.C. and Ontario, so we’re just coming to take a chance here and hopefully, we can take a stand and open it up here, as well,” he said.

Psilocybin is not legal in Canada. It is currently listed under Schedule III of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.

It can currently only be obtained legally through an exemption from the federal minister, as part of a clinical trial or through a special access program that allows physicians to request it for patients suffering from serious or life-threatening conditions.

Jamie Kagan, who is a lawyer and partner at Winnipeg’s Thompson Dorfman Sweatman LLP, is representing Magic Mush.

He said despite federal legislation banning the sale, magic mushroom dispensaries have opened up in other major centers, and Magic Mush is offering Winnipeggers the same chance to safely access a potentially beneficial product.

“Here what we’re trying to do is a storefront presence to allow people an opportunity to make an informed decision,” he said.

“We tell them it’s a controlled substance. We tell them what the product is and by-in-large, our customer base is age 35 to 55. This isn’t a bunch of kids trying to get high.”

The Winnipeg Police Service told CTV News Winnipeg in an emailed statement the drug enforcement unit is aware of the storefront.

“Our officers work with the Federal Government and their Inspector in regards to dispensaries,” the statement said.

The city also said it is not its jurisdiction to scrutinize the type of products being sold at a retail location.

“Similar to cannabis retail locations in Winnipeg, the City does not provide any special permits or licensing to correspond with the type of retail. Any type of retail use is permitted in commercial zones,” a statement from the city read.

Kagan said the owners of Magic Mush are hopeful their experience in Manitoba will be similar to its other locations in Ontario.

“The police showed up. The police laid charges. The police went away. They opened the next day and they continued on,” he said, noting there are pending charges before the courts in Ottawa and London, Ont. which could be precedent setting.

Meantime, Magic Mush’s manager said he is prepared to be arrested, but he hopes it won’t come to that.

“Hopefully they get behind us and realize how good of an impact we’re making on the community. We’re on the same team.”

 – With files from CTV’s Jon Hendricks and The Canadian Press

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