Psilocybin advocates were disappointed when California Governor Gavin Newsom vetoed a psychedelics decriminalization bill last month, but illegality is not stopping the drug from flooding the market in Los Angeles.
“In California, enforcement is not something happening when it comes to psilocybin products,” the founder of psilocybin gummy brand Cubiq tells Los Angeles magazine under the pseudonym “Maria Sabina” — a reference to the Mazatec shaman who inadvertently initiated America’s first shroom boom. The Indigenous Mexican healer allowed writer R. Gordon Wasson to participate in a sacred mushroom ceremony, which he famously wrote about in a 1957 Life magazine essay called “Seeking the Magic Mushroom.”
This “Sabina,” though, grinds those psilocybe cubensis mushrooms into vegan, handmade gummies intended for microdosing. Packs of 25 are sold online for $60, as well as in California dispensaries. “Welcome to the future” is the brand’s slogan, which promises the gummies will “increase cognitive function, energy, enlightenment, and enhance focus.” Of course, one pack contains a total of 3.5 grams of psilocybin, which adds up to a hefty macro dose for those customers looking for a more intense psychedelic trip.
“There are brands moving psilocybin all over the world,” Sabina says. “In California, the underground market has been thriving for many years with great demand.” That demand was profiled by Los Angeles in 2021 — when the psychedelic renaissance seemed to hit a fever pitch — with cover story ‘Shrooms! Shamans! Kosher LSD! Why Los Angeles Is Suddenly Tripping Out.
According to Sabina, branded psychedelic products began flourishing in the state “almost instantly” after the passing of Proposition 64, which legalized recreational cannabis in California back in 2016. “We saw many brands coming onto the underground scene just like in cannabis, with lower quality products, poorly dosed, and using synthetic psilocin.”
She saw an opportunity to provide a higher quality product, and says sales for Cubiq “boomed” during the COVID-19 pandemic, which the World Health Organization said triggered a 25% increase in prevalence of anxiety and depression worldwide. Cubiq customers include EMTS, veterans, depressed moms, families of chronically ill people, and even therapists.
“We’re in the middle of a mental health crisis and for us, the most important people are the people benefitting from Cubiq gummies,” Sabina says.
Magic Kingdom is another brand operating in what has become a very public, accessible black market, though, the packaging is all quite colorful. The “premium fruit gummies” infuse either psilocybin or Amanita mushroom extract with organic fresh fruit puree to give customers real fruit flavor in each bite. They’re the brainchild of two culinary chefs from Michelin-starred restaurants who came together to create a product that bridges the microdosers with macrodosers. “Using the creativity of flavor profiles with the science of psilocybin, they carefully created our magic recipe,” the company states. “The result is an elevating yet enriching body high that no other brand can compared.” 4 grams of these gummies can be found online or in shops starting at $25.
Sabina tells Los Angeles, “The psychedelics industry is trying to move forward as quickly as it can, with so many hurdles in its way and the reality of capitalism choking it before it can even make an impact.”
Though psilocybin can now be consumed legally across the California border in Oregon, a therapeutic session at the nation’s first licensed psilocybin service center costs $3,400. As of September, more than 3,000 people were on the waitlist.
“Our medical system has left many of these people behind,” says Sabina. “We have users quitting alcohol, smoking, and seeing tremendous progress in their mental and physical health.” Despite her business being an illegal one, she’s not shying away from meeting a market demand, all while being fueled by a desire to “help people” and inspire “personal freedom.”
“The government has no right to criminalize or police adult bodies, especially from something that can literally be found growing in nature,” she says. “These are sacred medicines that have been here so much longer than we have, with the potential to heal so many people struggling to make us and our world more empathetic, connected, and safe.”