Unboxing The Shroom Boom

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    “Is that a psilocybin-infused Rice Krispies treat”?!”

    The answer is yes.

    The branding and packaging blends in with the rest of the Kellogg’s product line, except this particular bar might actually put you in touch with the little mushroom elves peeking out from its spin-off label.

    The decriminalization of psilocybin mushrooms in numerous U.S. cities, as well as the rising tide of interest in functional mushrooms like Lion’s Mane and Cordyceps, has led to an upswing in product development and mycopreneurism across the U.S. and beyond.

    There seems to be no limit to the mushroom industry madness:

    Psilocybin vape pens, One Up chocolate bars with knock-off Nintendo branding, Cordyceps microdose gummies, Lions Mane hot sauce, water soluble Electric Kool-Aid psilocybin extract, and psilocybin-infused mezcal are just a few of the hundreds of different mushroom products I’ve come across in the last year.

    The productization and commercialization of psilocybin mushrooms is an ethical gray area for some people – while I don’t condone or condemn the practice, I recognize that it is proliferating, and that it’s not likely to go away.

    The nuance within this “ethical gray area” demands that each person make a decision for themselves regarding psilocybin mushroom productizing and the industry unfolding around it – whereas some purists and notable commentators in the psychedelic space have expressed dismay and surprise to see their beloved sacraments packaged and marketed in supermarket fashion, is there anything morally suspect about a psilocybin mushroom chocolate that’s packaged with dosing information, nutrition facts, and a QR code linking to 3rd party lab test results? I know from experience that there are a plethora of honest, hard-working mycopreneurs who are principled and dedicated members of their community that are doing exactly that.

    So then where is the line between an independent mycopreneur productizing and commercializing mushroom chocolate, and psilocybin-infused sour gummies being manufactured and marketed by a vertically-integrated psychedelics company?

    If it comes down to voting with dollars – which it often does – the people have voted for a productized and commercialized psilocybin mushroom experience.

    Purists lament – the psilocybin mushroom industry is here, and it’s swelling in size.

    Listen to the Mycopreneur Podcast

    The roll-out and regulation of this industry is happening rather quickly, with small businesses competing to position themselves ahead of official regulatory frameworks – as evidenced by the openings of several psychedelic mushroom dispensaries in Canada, as well as more dubious claims to the first legal “magic mushroom” dispensary in the U.S. coming out of Ybor City, Florida (Florida Man Opens Magic Mushroom Dispensary?)

    Further yet, last week in the Bay Area, I stood inside another brick and mortar shop that says they’re the first magic mushroom storefront in the U.S. – and which probably has a more legitimate claim to the title.

    A number of fungi entrepreneurs and scaleable businesses are positioning themselves in decriminalized cities and building their customer base and brand recognition in the run up to a more open and legal psilocybin mushroom market. I’ve had a number of conversations with people who have described the “Catch 22” scenario that they’re operating under at this particular moment – they want to start promoting their brands more openly, but need to mitigate risk by staying underground until a less punitive and prohibitive regulatory framework emerges to offer them legal protection for their trade.

    With the rising demand for mushroom products fueled by headline after headline of praise for the untapped potential of psychedelics and functional mushrooms, a number of unscrupulous vendors have also emerged to take advantage of the hoopla surrounding mushrooms. Reports of “Magic Mushroom” One Up Bars containing psychoactive simulacrums rather than psilocybin have surfaced, and social media is spilling over with scam accounts and vendors fraudulently stealing renowned cultivators and underground brand identities – A simple Google search for ‘one up mushroom chocolate’ yields a number of websites purporting to offer psilocybin chocolate and accepting payments in bitcoin.

    With Oregon and Colorado already passing ballot initiatives favoring a legal psilocybin market, the future legal magic mushroom industry has already attracted the attention of major investors and established brands who have their supply chains and marketing teams in place and ready to go public — and in the case of some of the people I’ve hosted on the podcast, literally “Go Public”

    The challenge for many aspiring mycopreneurs who want to enter the legal psilocybin mushroom market will likely be tantamount to the uphill battle that many small cannabis operations continue to face in the wake of the legal cannabis industry. There has been considerable pushback against the corporatization and domination of the legal psilocybin mushroom industry by monied interests, but it’s getting harder to imagine a legal framework roll out that doesn’t pander to the high rollers that are already gravitating towards the space.

    Multinational companies have been doing product development and research in Jamaica, where psilocybin is legal, with the intent to enter the U.S. market if granted a manufacturers license when the time comes.

    Furthermore, the rise of analytical testing will continue to shape the psilocybin mushroom product landscape above and beyond the economics and nascent regulatory frameworks currently driving the emerging psilocybin mushroom industry. Only a handful of cultivators and companies currently test their products for psilocybin potency and alkaloid profiles, but this is quickly changing with the arrival of more labs offering testing and the pressure to compete against other vendors who are able to offer 3rd party lab testing results for their products.

    And beyond lab testing for alkaloids and potency – a human testing element may be necessary to buttress the quality consistency of mushroom products.

    And this is where I stand courageously, ready to serve mycopreneurs attempting to gain traction in the space: I will try your shit out, and let you know if it’s awesome or if it sucks.

    If I had a piece of advice for anyone interested in entering the functional mushroom space, the psilocybin mushroom space, or the broader psychedelics industry – it would be “picks and shovels”; whereas many people refer to the legalization of psychedelics as a “gold rush”, in the real gold rush – Levi Strauss made all the money.