mlive reports..on what could turn out to be an interesting test case on the legality of distributing magic mushrooms and how structures can and can’t operate
Ann Arbor police are checking to see if a service offering same-day delivery of so-called ‘magic’ mushrooms in the city is in compliance with the law.
Despite both the city and Washtenaw County taking recent measures to loosen restrictions on psilocybin mushrooms, police said they are investigating whether the services offered by Arbor Shrooms, which advertises on colorful flyers throughout the city, are legal.
Arbor Shrooms features a variety of mushrooms on its website starting at $20 per gram and describes trip levels from “relaxed euphoria” to “total loss.”
Plants such as ayahuasca, ibogaine, mescaline, peyote, psilocybin mushrooms and other compounds with hallucinogenic properties are still deemed illegal under state and federal law, but there has been a push to decriminalize the substances in recent years, including a current ballot proposal initiative underway in Michigan.
The push for the ballot proposal comes after Ann Arbor decriminalized the use and possession of magic mushrooms and psychedelics in September 2020, declaring it the city’s lowest law enforcement priority to investigate and arrest anyone for entheogenic plants and fungi.
But the city’s legislation states it does not authorize or enable “commercial sales or manufacturing of these plants and fungi, possessing or distributing these materials in schools, driving under the influence of these materials, or public disturbance.”
“From what I can tell, it looks to be a business that is growing and selling, so I would call that manufacturing mushrooms, which as I read the council resolution, falls outside the scope of the council when that resolution was developed,” Ann Arbor police Lt. Mike Scherba said in reference to Arbor Shrooms.
Scherba later confirmed police would be investigating.
“We will be looking into this business to ensure they are in compliance,” Scherba said.
Arbor Shrooms maintains it’s not a business, however — it is not registered with the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, according to online records — and its proprietors defended their practices in a statement to MLive/The Ann Arbor News.
“We have a legal team and believe we’re operating within the bounds of the current law,” the statement reads. “We are trying to make it clear that we’re not an operator at all; we are a service to connect the existing psychedelic community with patients in need who don’t have transportation and are in need of delivery and aren’t in a position to grow their own medicine. Arbor Shrooms is not a corporation, it’s a community, where patients can connect with mycologists, the farmers and custodians of these sacred medicines. Patients can gain direct and safe access to now decriminalized medicine in the time of a global pandemic and an unprecedented mental health crisis facing our community.”
Washtenaw County Prosecutor Eli Savit has also taken measures to decriminalize mushrooms. He announced in January that his office would not charge anyone for the use, possession or small-scale distribution of entheogenic plants, including magic mushrooms. The policy focuses on prosecuting larger scale distribution.
Savit also announced in January that the prosecutor’s office will support the expungement of old convictions from entheogenic plant offenses.
“Many of us know people who have used substances like marijuana or psychedelics without facing criminal consequences,” Savit said previously.
When asked about Arbor Shrooms, Savit referred back to his policy.
“We will consider that just as we will consider any other warrant request that comes in,” he said. “I wouldn’t prejudge anymore requests or say that we definitely charge anything until we see the evidence. Commercial distributors of entheogenic plants are not covered by our policy.”
Arbor Shrooms was founded by an unnamed Ann Arbor woman, according to its statement. The woman is a mother of two and survivor of domestic abuse who began farming mushrooms to treat her own post-traumatic stress disorder, the statement reads.
She wanted to help others facing the health condition, and after meeting other “like-minded farmers” and mycologists, she wanted to connect qualified farmers with those in need, then started Arbor Shrooms, which uses delivery drivers from Ann Arbor’s veteran community, the statement reads. Drivers work for a delivery charge and gratuity, according to the statement.
“Ann Arbor’s Psychedelic Community has existed for decades. However, without a hippie cousin or friend in the know, many Ann Arbor residents have no way of accessing or obtaining this now decriminalized medicine. Growing your own medicine is simply not a possibility for some due to their health, or housing situation, lease restrictions or other factors,” adding many do not have access to transportation and rely on delivery for “their medicine,” according to the statement.