Kamloops Psychedelic Society joining the push to expand drug legalization | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kamloops Psychedelic Society joining the push to expand drug legalization

People with certain diagnosed conditions can now order medicinal magic mushrooms online. The mushrooms are sold in microdose quantities, put into capsules.
Image Credit: ADOBE STOCK
August 28, 2019 - 7:00 AM

KAMLOOPS -  It seems like Kamloops just got a little more groovy.

A Kamloops man has decided to bring together those who believe in the healing powers of psychedelics with a Facebook group.

The Kamloops Psychedelic Society aims to connect people who want to learn more about various psychedelic drugs. The group was created by Jason Micheal Wynn in early June and now has about 70 members sharing research studies, activism efforts, and developments in the drug industry.

“I am not encouraging people doing illicit substances and in no way advocating people doing drugs, I’m advocating people educating themselves,” Wynn says. "My biggest hope is that people recognize there is a very strong, very well-formed group of people who are constantly growing and that group of people has a lot of interest in de-stigmatizing these substances."

This isn’t the first time Wynn has made his voice heard on such a topic. While living in Augusta, Georgia, Wynn was the vice-chair of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, an organization that aims to educate people about restricted substances and help pay legal fees for those who have been charged for possession of marijuana. He says he worked on the public outreach aspect, where he would be on the streets handing out pamphlets and discussing psychedelics with people passing by. He says when he came back to his hometown of Kamloops, he wanted to continue his activism efforts but found no such network.

"I definitely wanted to find activists to sit downtown with pamphlets and sit downtown talking to people who were walking around but I was looking for the best way to find such people and I thought maybe I should just make a Facebook group where people interested in this topic can congregate,” Wynn says.

Wynn says the group he was part of in Georgia focused on creating a discussion and a sense of community in a place where it was taboo to talk about such substances, and he hopes the newly founded Kamloops group does the same.

"Our main goal was to create a conversation," Wynn says. “If you gently bring people who are just slightly interested to very interested, then you bring the people who are slightly opposed to slightly interested, there's this whole shift that happens.”

The Kamloops Psychedelic Society hopes to continuously educate people about what they say are benefits of restricted drugs and is planning to host information nights that will bring in guest speakers.

Wynn notices that Canada has seen success after legalizing marijuana, and hopes various other substances are soon viewed in the same way.

One of the psychedelic advancements made in B.C. lately is a website run by Dana Larsen which offers ‘medicinal' magic mushrooms. Larsen was active in pushing for the legalization of cannabis but has now shifted his attention to focus on 'micro-dosing' psilocybe mushrooms.

Paul Doroshenko, a criminal defence lawyer in Vancouver, says this is part of a bold, calculated plan.

"I think his choice to go after mushrooms is a very smart, tactical decision,” Doroshenko says. "He’s chosen the natural product that isn’t greatly refined in any way. Also, I’ve never seen any studies about the detrimental health effects of it, whereas you will find lots and lots of research about the detrimental health effects of synthetic drugs. I think he’s made a very smart, tactical decision. How far it goes, I don’t know. Look at how attitudes changed about cannabis.”

Although the mushrooms sold on Larsen's website are classified as a Schedule III drug and are illegal throughout the country, Constable Steve Addison with the Vancouver Police Department says the local police force isn’t putting much pressure on the operation.

"Our enforcement priorities continue to target organized and sophisticated drug trafficking operations that manufacture and distribute harmful drugs such as fentanyl and other harmful opioids,” Addison said in an email statement to iNFOnews.ca.

Doroshenko says provinces have authority over property and civil rights, while criminal issues are a federal matter, which sometimes creates a legal grey-area. Doroshenko says by focusing on a natural substance, with research studies backing its legitimacy and sold in small doses, Larsen may be able to continue his business until it is challenged by a higher level of government.

“He's taking a careful approach… there's a more scientific basis for the micro-dosing version and I think that's probably why he’s taking that approach. There are people that have all sorts of legitimate medical issues that we've discovered some of these natural products can alleviate,” Doroshenko says. "Why not investigate the next one?”

For now, the magic mushrooms on Larsen’s site will only be sold in micro-doses. In order to explore further developments, Doroshenko says it would take a local political voice to move forward with the industry and potentially challenge the federal government.

"If you could find some city councillors who were courageous enough to vote to allow that zoning - maybe in Nelson or somewhere like that - then that would be the beginning of the challenge," Doroshenko says.

Wynn says he will continue to advocate for public education on such substances.

"Maybe if the heads of departments knew that their police were wandering the streets, were witnessing these things and kind of just shrugging their shoulders they'd be furious about it, but it's also free speech,” Wynn says. "I think that even the police and the members of the police are interested in solving these problems in society and so anything that smacks of actually solving a problem is interesting and worth looking at.”

Wynn expects the group will continue to grow and hopes to connect with other similar groups in the province. Wynn says that by creating an outlet such as this, it could showcase the public support for the legalization of certain drugs.

"I think that its kind of a tonic for so many social ills that we witness nowadays," Wynn says. "As society continues to get bigger and bigger we need these medicines to conquer these problems."

To contact a reporter for this story, email Jenna Wheeler or call (250) 819-6089 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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