Weston Soule was arrested at his Burlington, Conn., home on Nov. 2 after special officers found US$8.5 million (over C$11.7 million) worth of psychedelic mushrooms, also called magic mushrooms, on the property, according to state police.
The authorities alleged Soule was operating a clandestine psilocybin mushroom growing operation at the residence. Psilocybin is a naturally occurring psychedelic that produces hallucinogenic effects. In both the U.S. and Canada, psilocybin is a controlled substance.
Officials said they visited Soule’s home after receiving a tip.
Police said they identified ventilation equipment inside the residence consistent with a psychedelic mushroom grow-op. They seized hundreds of bags of illegal mushrooms.
In their statement, state police said Soule at first told officers the mushrooms in his home were not psilocybin. After police obtained a search warrant and entered the property, Soule later admitted the mushrooms were of the psychedelic variety.
He was charged with possession with intent to sell or distribute narcotics and operation of a drug factory, and is set to be arraigned on Nov. 16.
The production, sale and possession of psychedelic mushrooms is illegal in Canada. Those taking magic mushrooms may see, hear or feel things that are not there, and can experience anxiety, fear, nausea and muscle twitches accompanied by increased heart rate and blood pressure. Still, many people who use magic mushrooms claim the drug has therapeutic effects.
Despite its illegal status, a number of magic mushroom stores have opened in Canada in recent years. Many storeowners opened mushroom dispensaries for commercial reasons, and some are drug advocates who hope to push the issue forward and promote public discussion. It is a similar tactic that was used with cannabis, which saw illegal dispensaries open long before it was legalized in Canada in October 2018.
— With files from Global News’ Eric Stober