Psilocybin spores are technically legal, but in most places germinating them is not.

In many countries, psilocybin mushroom spores sit in a gray area of the law. You might be able to legally buy them, yet germinating the spores remains illegal in most countries. However, if you’re still wondering where to buy psilocybin spores, unless you’re in the Netherlands, be prepared to shop around the internet or spend some time in online forums. Then, once you do buy them, be aware that germination is still illegal.

You may be surprised to learn that, in many places, buying psilocybin spores is perfectly legal. How? Mushroom spores don’t actually contain psilocybin! So, since spores do not contain any active hallucinogenic compounds, they can legally be bought and sold in 47 of the 50 U.S. states. In a sense, this is a loophole in legal rhetoric that penalizes the possession, sale, and transport of psilocybin, but not spores.

But, not all states have been so lax in their legal rhetoric about spores. The state of California has written laws that specifically ban the sale, transport, and gifting of spores with the intent to germinate. Bonafide researchers and research institutions, however, can legally possess and acquire viable spores. In Georgiaand Idaho, the sale, transport, and possession of psilocybin spores is banned outright.

Still, for everywhere else in the United States, buying spores still comes with its own risks.

As Ophelia Chong explains, “Buyers should be aware that buying spores is only for research or education purposes, growing psilocybin is illegal.” Chong is the founder of Mogu.Care, a retailer for adaptogenic plants, and an advisor to DoubleBlind’s course on how to grow mushrooms.

But, you don’t have to be a scientist to buy spores. By “research or educational purposes,” Chong is referring to buying spores with the intent to study, research, identify, or other non-germination purposes. People in most U.S. states can legally buy spores so long as the spores do not germinate. Many traders articulate that they are selling spores for “educational purposes” or for “research and identification purposes” to clarify that the spores are not intended for mushroom cultivation. Rather, they are supposed to remain spores.

When Spores Become Illegal

While you may be in your legal right to buy spores, germinating them is still prohibited. Both mycelium and fruiting mushrooms contain psilocybin, which is federally illegal. As soon as spores begin to germinate into mycelium, law enforcement can legally charge you with cultivation or possession of a controlled substance. The same goes for the possession or sale fresh and dried psilocybin mushrooms.

Psilocybin laws vary wildly across the globe. In Indonesia, for example, getting caught with psychedelic mushrooms or their spores is punishable by the death penalty. Meanwhile, in Jamaica, Brazil, Samoa, and the British Virgin Islands, mushrooms and their spores are legal to cultivate and possess.

Buying Spore Syringes Versus Spore Prints

Spores are often sold in two preparations: spore syringes and spore prints. Spore syringes are simply oral syringes filled with spores and water. The water suspends the spores in solution without destroying them, and good spore purveyors will often use purified water. Spore prints are more like a stamp. Spores are stamped onto a sheet of paper by laying a fresh mushroom cap face-down overnight.

Where to Buy Mushroom Spores in Canada

Canada is a smidge more relaxed about psilocybin than its southern neighbors—but, just barely. Psilocybin spores, grow kits, and mycelium are legal to cultivate in Canada. Dried and fresh mushrooms, however, are not. So, purchasing spores with the intent to cultivate is not legal, but buying spores for research and collection purposes is a-okay. Most mushroom spores in Canada are sold over the internet in spore syringes and spore prints.

Where to Buy Mushroom Spores in Amsterdam

The Netherlands, a country long-known for its progressive drug laws, criminalized the cultivation and possession of dried magic mushrooms in 2005 and fresh mushrooms in 2008. But, that doesn’t mean that you can’t get your psilocybin on. Possession of up to 0.5 grams of dried magic truffles, which are young magic mushrooms, is decriminalized. The amount designated for personal use bumps up to five grams of fresh truffles.

Spores and truffles can be purchased from artsy psychedelic shops (or “smart shops”) in some Netherland cities. The majority of shops, of course, are found in Amsterdam. Smart shops often sell other “soft drugs,” like peyote and salvia. Although, “hard drugs” like LSD, heroin, and cocaine are still illegal under federal law.

Where to Buy Mushroom Spores in South Africa

Psilocybin is illegal in South Africa, which means that possession of fresh or dried mushrooms is a criminal offense. But, the same cannot be said for spores, which appear to fall into a legal gray area. Spore prints, syringes, and other kits are frequently sold online in South Africa. But, just as in the United States and other parts of the world, germinating these spores into mushrooms is illegal.

Where to Buy Psilocybe Spores Australia

Psilocybin mushrooms are illegal to cultivate, purchase, or possess in Australia. While psilocybe spores grow naturally across the continent—over 30 different types of psychoactive mushrooms grow in Australia—fines and sentences for mushroom possession can be steep. For example, possession of 25 grams of psilocybe mushrooms can result in a 25-year-long prison sentence.

Australian authorities have also historically seized spores imported from other countries, although the spores themselves contain no hallucinogenic compounds and thus sit in a gray area of the law. Nevertheless, there is a rich underground community of Australian spore and mushroom traders. Most spores are traded the old fashioned way: connecting with someone who knows someone. Although, online forum traders and some websites continue to sell spores in Australia, which is riskier than in other countries. Bottom line: When buying psilocybe spores in Australia, do so at your own risk.

Where to Buy Mushroom Spores in the United States

Three U.S. cities have decriminalized magic mushrooms: Denver, Oakland, and Santa Cruz. But, for the latter two cities, decriminalization doesn’t mean that buying and selling mushrooms spores is legal. (Remember: the State of California criminalizes the sale of psilocybin mushroom spores).

Nonetheless, finding spores for sale can be tricky. Remember, spores are still taboo and the mushrooms themselves are illegal to cultivate. These days, most spores are purchased over the internet. As Chong suggests, “the best place to find educational vendors is Reddit on the group ‘SporeTraders’.” An “educational vendor” is a vendor who sells spores for the sole purpose of research, identification, and education. A good spore trader, like Mushroom Prints, will clearly identify that the spores should not be germinated into mycelium or fruiting mushrooms, which is illegal and will not answer questions via email about the cultivation of their psilocybin syringes.

Where to Buy Mushroom Spores in Colorado

The city of Denver decriminalized magic mushrooms in May of 2019. This means that within the county limits, possessing psilocybe mushrooms is no longer something local law enforcement will spend resources on to go after or prosecute. Dealing mushrooms, however, is another story.

Cultivating mushrooms for sale is still illegal in Colorado, and law enforcement can still prosecute for selling anything that contains psilocybin. Rather, Denver decriminalization initiatives protect adults aged 21 and over who use or possess mushrooms for personal use. And, it’s important to point out, these decriminalization initiatives apply only to the city of Denver, not to Colorado in its entirety.

Decriminalization for personal use is very different than creating a legal marketplace for shrooms. Cultivating shrooms with the intent to sell is not legal, as there is no specific text in Denver or Colorado laws that decriminalizes or legalizes the sale of psilocybin mushrooms. As such, shroom vendors may be subject to the same felony penalties as any other Schedule 1 controlled substance.

That being said, mushroom spores themselves are not illegal in most of the United States. So, myco-enthusiasts in Denver are able to buy spores online or from local traders without prosecution. (Although spore vendors should be aware that anytime you operate in a legal gray area, the chance of harassment or run-ins with the law is always a risk).

And as for the rest of Colorado, spores can still be legally purchased online for non-germination purposes only.

What to Know About Buying Psilocybin Spores Online

Buying online is always tricky; how do you know you’re really getting what you ordered? But, buying unregulated and quasi-legal products like psilocybin spores can be even trickier. While the spores themselves are often not illegal, the manner in which the vendor procured them might be. So, it’s a riskier endeavor than your average internet shopping trip.

Wondering how to play it safe? Here are a few basic tips and tricks.

Shop from Verified Sites

One of the most difficult things about shopping for spores online is knowing whether or not you’re buying from a legitimate source. If possible, look for websites that have standard marks of web legitimacy, including about pages, contact pages, reviews, FAQs, and recognizable payment platforms. Legitimate spore traders will also be savvy about the law. So, look for websites that sell their products for research, identification, and educational purposes only.

Ask Around

Psychedelic culture, while thriving, is still mostly underground. Before ordering from a promising website, consider posting in a Reddit or Shroomery thread to see if anyone else is familiar with the supplier.

Read Reviews

Does the website publish consumer reviews? Read them! Reading reviews posted on the website, as well as looking up additional online reviews, can help you determine the quality and legitimacy of a vendor. The greater number of reviews available and the longer the review history, the better.

Reach Out to the Shop

When in doubt, reach out to customer service! Shoot an email to the shop or give them a call if a phone number is listed. Making connections before you buy can help you determine the legitimacy of the vendor. But, be warned: Many online spore shops will not sell to you if you disclose that you will be germinating the spores to produce psilocybin mushrooms.

If you or a loved one is struggling with substance use, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for support. If you’re looking for peer support during or after a psychedelic experience, contact Fireside Project by calling or texting 6-2FIRESIDE.

—This article is published in collaboration with DoubleBlind Magazine.