Buying magic mushrooms in the Bay Area has always been about knowing where to go and who to ask. However, in the wake of Oakland’s 2019 decision to decriminalize naturally occuring psychedelics—including psilocybin, the active hallucinogenic compound found in shrooms—the options for obtaining the popular psychedelic have grown considerably.
Earlier this month, for example, acquiring a chocolate bar stuffed with dried psilocybe cubensis mushrooms was as simple as driving to one of the Oakland retailers listed on the website of Bliss Mushrooms and forking over $45. It was, all things considered, a remarkably seamless transaction—though it does raise a few questions.
Chief among them: Is buying a dosed chocolate bar from a headshop actually legal? The answer, according to the Oakland Police Department, is unequivocally no.
In an emailed statement to The Standard, Kim S. Armstead of the Oakland Police Department said that such activity remains illegal in the city of Oakland.
“Sales of psilocybin is a felony violation of the CA Health and Safety Code,” Armstead wrote. “Additionally, the Federal Controlled Substance Act (1970) lists psilocybin as a Schedule I substance.” Thus, by the letter of the law, Bliss Mushrooms is an illicit operation.
But far from keeping the kind of low profile one might expect from an illegal operator, Bliss Mushrooms recently placed a full-page ad in the August issue of California Leaf Magazine and currently hosts a website that lists seven smoke shops in Oakland where people can purchase their products.
The retailers listed on Bliss’ website aren’t the only locations where locals have been able to buy magic mushrooms in recent years. Oakland’s Zide Door Church of Entheogenic Plants offers purchase of psilocybin products to confirmed members of its congregation under the protections of a religious exemption. Even so, in 2020, the building housing Zide was raided by Oakland police, who confiscated about $200,000 worth of mushrooms and cannabis as well as some cash. This month, Zide’s leaders responded by filing a lawsuit in federal court alleging discrimination against the church’s religious beliefs.
Despite all this, someone claiming to be a representative for Bliss was willing to go on record with The Standard. After exchanging a series of direct messages via the Bliss Mushrooms Instagram account, a person going by Saint (no surname was given)—who identified themselves as the managing director of the brand—said they would give an interview over the phone. The next day, Saint took our call.
Over the course of a 20-minute conversation, Saint said that Bliss Mushrooms has been operating in one form or another for over two decades. For most of that time, he said, they kept a far lower profile, but in the wake of 2019, they’ve decided to be a little bolder.
“When we got started, there was no YouTube. We had to engage with people on message boards like Shroomery,” he said.
The Standard could not independently confirm Saint’s account of Bliss’ history. But if he is to be believed, the company has come a long way since those early days.
According to the Bliss website, the brand now sells a variety of chocolate bars and microdose shroom capsules in seven Oakland smoke shops—stores that sell tobacco products and glass pipes, not licensed cannabis dispensaries.
At present, the Bliss Mushrooms line includes psilocybin-spiked chocolate bars like “The Firecracker” and the “Scarlet ‘Ruby Couverture.’” They even have an option called “Holy Grail,” which is supposed to be extra potent. The brightly colored packaging features a full ingredient list, non-GMO certification and a batch number which corresponds to test results conducted by Hayward’s Harrens Lab Inc.
To confirm the presence of the purported active ingredients in the Bliss line, The Standard took two bars—“Magic Mushroom Chocolate” and “Holy Grail”—to Harrens, where the samples were tested for a number of psychedelic compounds, including psilocybin and psilocin. (It's worth noting that the lab made headlines in the cannabis industry periodical MJBizDaily last year when it had its license revoked, then reinstated through a court settlement.)
The results from the lab confirmed that both Bliss Mushrooms samples submitted did indeed contain psilocybin and psilocin in quantities consistent with what the brand advertises on its website and packaging.
Which brings us to another question: If what they are doing could land them in legal trouble why is Bliss advertising in such a public way?
As Saint explained, psychedelics offer an opportunity for individuals to confront trauma. By helping guide interested consumers to their products, Bliss Mushrooms hopes to cater to a far wider range of needs than what’s currently possible under the law.
“Not everybody is comfortable going to a psychologist or healing in a clinical setting,” he said, “so a lot of healing takes place where trauma takes place: in your community, in your family, in your household. Everybody's journey is different.”
Looking ahead, he also confirmed that should San Francisco follow in Oakland’s decriminalization footsteps, locals might find Bliss Mushroom products on headshop shelves in this city, as well.
As the founder of Sunset Connect, a locally owned an operated recreational cannabis brand, Ali Jamalian is a veteran of San Francisco’s legal cannabis industry. He sees Bliss Mushrooms as a sign of the times. In fact, he said, there are a lot of similarities between where psychedelics are today and where weed was 25 years ago.
“I see demand going up in the city,” he said of mushroom-infused products coming to San Francisco, noting that he has friends who regularly go to Oakland and Berkeley to stock up on shroom chocolates. What’s more, his wife is on a psilocybin microdosing regimen, which her physician is aware of, and which may be playing a role in the improvement her epilepsy symptoms.
“It feels like the beginning of the Prop 215 days, but for psilocybin,” Jamalian continued. “That's kind of where I see it right now.”
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