Kelowna News

Construction ongoing for Princeton magic mushroom facilities

Existing purpose-built cultivation and processing facilities for mushrooms in Princeton.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Optimi Health

Two 10,000 foot-buildings in Princeton’s industrial park are being constructed to cultivate and research magic mushrooms.

These facilities will be used to grow, process, research and develop functional and future mushroom products, according to Optimi Health Corp which oversees the effort.

Optimi anticipates the project, located next to the B.C. Green Pharmaceutical medical marijuana site, will cost $8.2 million to complete, according to its website. Part owner of B.C. Green Bryan Safarik is also the chief operating officer and a director of Optimi Health.

READ MORE: Mental health clinic offering psychedelic drugs slated for Kelowna

The building shells for the mushrooms have been erected with construction completion anticipated in the summer of 2021, said Jacob Safarik, chief financial officer for Optimi Health.

One will be used as a controlled substance facility for research and lab work for psychedelic mushrooms and the other will be used for the production of the mushroom varietals, he said.

Optimi Health will first be cultivating “functional” and “medicinal” mushrooms that you can find in supplement stores that don’t contain psilocybin, the ingredient in magic mushrooms that make them hallucinogenic, with plans to expand into psychedelic mushrooms, said JJ Wilson, board chairman with Optimi Health.

In Canada, most psychedelics are currently prohibited unless approved by Health Canada for research purposes.

Health Canada has approved applications from cancer patients to use magic mushrooms for end-of-life distress. It has also granted exemptions to 19 health-care providers, so they may use mushrooms containing psilocybin for professional training purposes.

READ MORE: Patient hopes Canada will introduce regulations for treatment with 'magic mushrooms'

“I definitely believe there’s going to be an opportunity (for psychedelic mushroom cultivation) and I don’t think as much investment would be going into this space if there wasn’t… a very viable and positive outcome of the product itself as it relates to helping solve a variety of human conditions specifically through a pharmaceutical use case model,” Wilson said.

Optimi Health has a Health Canada research exemption license and a dealer’s license is pending, according to its website.

The company is working with a University of Calgary clinical trial accelerator program called IMPACT to help execute a clinical trial for a strain of psilocybin in capsule form that requires Health Canada approval, Wilson said.

In the Interior, Canadian company Mind Cure Health is planning to open its first clinic offering psychedelic-assisted mental health therapy in downtown Kelowna this spring.

- With files from The Canadian Press

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