Osoyoos cannabis producer gets green light to build magic mushroom facility

A handful of magic mushrooms.
A handful of magic mushrooms.

A company that produces and studies cannabis in Osoyoos has received permission to go deeper down the rabbit hole.

Way2Grow Biopharma Corp. recently got the go-ahead from Health Canada to build a psilocybin production facility. The building will be on the same property in the Osoyoos industrial park that houses the business’s cannabis operations.

CEO Jamie Filipuzzi said once the facility is constructed, an inspector needs to confirm the design was built to the specifications in his application, and that is the only remaining regulatory hurdle.

Filipuzzi was hoping to break ground in January of 2022 but due to the recent landslides and flooding, he said many important shipments are going to be delayed so he’s now hoping to begin construction by the end of February. The facility is expected to employ 50 people when it is fully operational.

READ MORE: South Okanagan cannabis company hopes to start growing magic mushrooms this fall

Way2Grow launched in 2018 and has been producing cannabis out of the same location in Osoyoos for medical and research purposes. Filipuzzi is excited to explore the mysteries of psilocybin from a scientific perspective.

When asked if the geography of Osoyoos was beneficial for growing mushrooms, he said the indoor facility operates in a closed-loop system so it is not affected by the surrounding nature. The cannabis is also grown in a closed-loop system.

But the product is stigmatized. Magic mushrooms are mind-altering hallucinogens that are often considered party drugs. Finding a place to grow them – even with permission from the government – can be a challenge.

It was the liberal attitude of the community that made Filipuzzi decide to set up shop in the South Okanagan. A few years ago when marijuana entrepreneurs were still facing similar stigmas, “the Town of Osoyoos welcomed us,” he said. 

Beyond the local community, the liberal attitude of Canadian laws can also be credited for allowing Way2Grow to legally produce psilocybin, as it remains illegal across the vast majority of the world.

The therapeutic benefits of magic mushrooms, and marijuana until recently, have been difficult for scientists to explore due to prohibition. By legitimately entering the market so early in the game, Filipuzzi feels like Way2Grow has a strong opportunity to be on the cutting edge of psilocybin and cannabinoid research.

READ MORE: Construction ongoing for Princeton magic mushroom facilities

Filipuzzi expects his products will primarily be used for medical purposes and prescribed by doctors and pharmacists.

“There will probably never be a recreational market for it.”

However some "recreational" marijuana users may not even realize they’re consuming the product for medical reasons, Filipuzzi said. Many pot smokers are looking for help sleeping or a tonic for their anxiety or a way to work up an appetite – and he said those reasons are medical but not always appreciated as such.

Similar to cannabis, he feels like psilocybin also has the potential to offer the public numerous medical solutions, despite those who perceive mushrooms as a trippy party drug.

“The research can’t deny the medical benefits – it’s showing it’s not just a fun drug.”

He said the pharmaceutical industry appears nervous about the advent of legal magic mushrooms.

“And they should be nervous if they’re not getting into it themselves.”

Filipuzzi credits cannabis for helping him overcome paralysis and chronic pain, and that inspired him to help other people find natural solutions to their medical problems.

“Edibles completely changed my life… everyone should have the opportunity to not use opioids.”

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