PORTLAND, Ore. — The line to enter Shroom House in downtown Portland extended around the block on Friday, following news that the store was selling psychedelic mushrooms to customers.
Willamette Week and The Oregonian reported on the West Burnside supplement shop Thursday afternoon. In both cases, store staff made no secret of the fact that they were selling mushrooms containing psilocybin, although the process required that customers give identification and register with the company.
In fact, the shop has been open about psilocybin sales since before it started doing business. In August, when signs around the shop still said "coming soon," psilocybin appeared about halfway down a list of mushrooms that Shroom House advertised for sale.
In 2020, Oregon voters approved two revolutionary measures related to drug legalization: Measure 110, which decriminalized user amounts of narcotics, and Measure 109, which legalized the use of psilocybin in a regulated therapeutic, clinical setting.
Neither of those laws made the retail sale of psilocybin legal.
"I still think a lot of people have reached out thinking that this is a dispensary model, or that people will be able to go in and purchase psilocybin and take it with them off site," said Angie Allbee, section manager for Oregon Psilocybin Services, which operates under the Oregon Health Authority. "We also know that that's not a part of what ORS 475A created."
At the same time, it's not clear that authorities in Portland care to harsh Shroom House's vibe. When asked for comment, the Portland Police Bureau referred the media to OHA's Oregon Psilocybin Services.
"I can only say that the Narcotics and Organized Crime unit is aware of the allegations being made online and in numerous news stories about this location," Sgt. Kevin Allen said in a brief statement. "The nature of NOC’s work requires them to be cautious about what they release publicly, so I can’t say more than the fact that they’re aware of it."
Allen said that he did not expect there to be any new developments Friday.
This isn't Shroom House's first rodeo. A store in Vancouver, British Columbia, shares the same name and logo. It's been around since late 2021 or early 2022.
Retail psilocybin sales aren't any more legal in Canada, but police in Vancouver, BC acknowledged earlier this year that busting these mushroom dispensaries simply isn't high on their list of priorities.
If the company's Twitter account is any indication, they aren't exactly afraid of the news coverage either — they retweeted two accounts that shared the Oregonian and Willamette Week stories.
There's also a Canada-based Shroom House website that purports to sell mushrooms via delivery, but the site includes a disclaimer that it has "no relevance" to retail shops in the U.S. or Canada.
"We do not operate out of any retail units, we are solely online and have no other stores elsewhere," the site states.
Research suggests psilocybin, administered responsibly, may help address depression, anxiety, trauma and addiction.
Even though Oregon passed the law for legal administration of psilocybin in 2020, the clinics that are expected to do this kind of therapy have yet to open. The program has been gradually making its way through an extensive administrative and regulatory process before that happens.
"It will really take all four license types in order for service center doors to open — so you would need a licensed manufacturer to cultivate or process psilocybin products," Allbee said. "You would need a licensed testing lab to test those products according to our requirements and rule. You would have to have then a licensed service center to sell that psilocybin product to, and then you would have to have licensed facilitators to be able to provide psilocybin services which includes a preparation session, administration session and integration."
Health leaders and stakeholders have until the end of the year to finalize these plans, which means the first clinics won't open until next year at the very earliest. At the same time, a number of Oregon cities and counties have pushed for bans on psilocybin services — and many of those bans passed in November.
Under Measure 109, psilocybin could only be legally used by people 21 and older in a controlled facility under the supervision of a licensed professional, so people wouldn't be able to purchase it and take it home.