The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has recently confirmed that magic mushroom spores before germination aren’t considered Schedule I Substances under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).
This news comes after a long controversy over the legality of the spores, considering they don’t actually contain the active compounds that make shrooms psychoactive.
On January 2, 2024, DEA’s Drug & Chemical Evaluation Section Chief Terrence Boos responded to a request to clarify the control status of the spores from attorney Michael McGuire of New York Cultivation Law PLLC.
In their letter, the Boos states:
“If the mushroom spores (or any other material) do not contain psilocybin or psilocin (or any other controlled substance or listed chemical), the material is considered not controlled under the CSA. However, if at any time the material contains a controlled substance such as psilocybin or psilocin (for example, upon germination), the material would be considered a controlled substance under the CSA.“
In the past, several people have been convicted for selling or using spore kits. However, these arrests could be due to “how spore kits are marketed or used,” according to attorney Rod Kight.
“In short, this newest DEA letter is a positive clarification of a long-debated issue. However, it does not necessarily open the doors to widespread use and sale of spore kits. At a minimum, buyers and sellers should understand the legal issues with a lawyer, and act accordingly.”
Psilocybin and psilocin are classified as Schedule I Substances under the CSA, not the actual mushrooms or spores themselves. The lack of these compounds technically means the spores are legal. Nonetheless, they are likely considered drug paraphernalia, defined by the CSA as “equipment, product, or material of any kind which is primarily intended or designed for use in manufacturing… [or] producing” controlled substances. Using spore kits as a means to cultivate magic mushrooms violates the CSA, and those who do so may still be prosecuted.
The sale of magic mushroom spores is currently illegal in California, Georgia, and Idaho, but several other states allow spores to be bought and sold if used for “research purposes.”
The conflict of differentiating spores from mushrooms is similar to an earlier dilemma addressed by Boos and the DEA in relation to cannabis and its seeds. Although cannabis is a federally illegal Schedule I drug because of its THC content, its seeds are not considered illegal as long as their THC content does not exceed 0.3 percent of THC by weight.
Despite the DEA’s clarification, these legal distinctions remain rather ambiguous, considering the potential for these spores and seeds to be used in the cultivation of controlled substances.