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Monday, Dec 4, 2023
Mugglehead Magazine
Alternative investment news based in Vancouver, B.C.


Vancouver police raid Medicinal Mushroom Dispensary locations, owner arrested

Dana Larsen owns three shops in Vancouver that openly sell psychedelics like psilocybin mushrooms, DMT and peyote

Vancouver Police raid Medicinal Mushroom Dispensary locations, owner arrested
Medicinal Mushroom Dispensary chain owner Dana Larsen. Photo via the Medicinal Mushroom Dispensary

Vancouver police raided three Medicinal Mushroom Dispensary (MMD) locations in the city on Wednesday and arrested the store chain’s owner, Dana Larsen.

All merchandise was seized and Larsen spent seven hours in jail, although no charges have been laid. The original Medicinal Mushroom Dispensary location on Hastings Street was founded in 2019 prior to a pair of additional shops being opened later.

Larsen announced plans to restock and reopen his stores on Friday, Nov. 3. He said law enforcement in the city likely spent about $100,000 of taxpayer money on the raids.

Photo via Dana Larsen on X

“I think this is very clearly a politically motivated raid, we’ve been open for three years now,” said Larsen in an interview with Global News. He believes that the timing of the raids, one week after the Vancouver Police Department raided the Drug User Liberation Front (DULF) compassion club, is no coincidence.

Larsen attended DULF’s rally for safe drug supply downtown on Thursday and gave away free psilocybin mushrooms and cannabis to “show solidarity and resilience against these ridiculous police raids.”

DULF provides drugs like cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine to users on the Downtown Eastside after testing them for purity and ensuring their safety.

“I think that it’s going to harm sick people that rely on access to these substances to deal with chronic and critical ailments,” said Larsen’s legal representative Jack Lloyd.

Read more: Vancouver mushroom dispensaries continue to operate in legal grey area

Read more: Māori group receives first psilocybin cultivation license in NZ to treat substance use disorders

There are other dispensaries in the city that openly sell psilocybin mushrooms to the public like Larsen’s, but his stores are unique because they have an assortment of unregulated psychedelics for sale like peyote, LSD, ayahuasca and DMT. The stores also sell tea infused with coca leaves, a plant known for its role in cocaine production.

“There is no other place in the world where adults can walk in and purchase psilocybe products, LSD, kratom, peyote, coca leaf and more. Our store is absolutely unique,” says Larsen.

Larsen told Mugglehead last year that he did not think the VPD would raid his shops because it would be expensive, time-consuming and ineffective, but in late 2023 he turned out to be wrong.

Read more: Afghanistan Veteran gets Health Canada approval for psilocybin treatment from Apex Labs

Read more: Billionaire Steve Cohen’s Point 72 hedge fund takes 8.1% stake in Cybin

In 2019, Larsen started a harm reduction initiative by creating Get Your Drugs Tested, which he says has since grown into the world’s busiest free street drug analysis service. It is completely funded by sales from his mushroom and cannabis dispensaries.

Although there are several mushroom dispensaries in Vancouver, the only means of receiving government-approved access to psilocybin is through Health Canada’s Special Access Program, clinical trials or a Section 56 exemption.

Other substances sold at Larsen’s stores are illegal to possess and distribute as well and these shops are currently operating in a legal grey area. It is similar to how cannabis dispensaries started popping up throughout Canada pre-legalization.

Vancouver’s Zoomers dispensary on Granville Street sells psilocybin products only. Photo by Rowan Dunne

“I don’t think legalization of mushrooms and other psychedelics in a manner similar to cannabis will happen within the next five years, and probably will take much longer than that,” said Larsen last fall.

“However, I do expect we will see increased legal access to these kinds of substances for medicinal and therapeutic purposes.”

Mugglehead reached out to Larsen for a statement and will update this article accordingly.


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