Buying magic mushrooms in the Bay Area has always been about knowing where to go and who to ask. However, in the wake of Oakland’s 2019 decision to decriminalize naturally occuring psychedelics—including psilocybin, the active hallucinogenic compound found in shrooms—the options for obtaining the popular psychedelic have grown considerably.
Earlier this month, for example, acquiring a chocolate bar stuffed with dried psilocybe cubensis mushrooms was as simple as driving to one of the Oakland retailers listed on the website of Bliss Mushrooms and forking over $45. It was, all things considered, a remarkably seamless transaction—though it does raise a few questions.
Chief among them: Is buying a dosed chocolate bar from a headshop actually legal? The answer, according to the Oakland Police Department, is unequivocally no.
In an emailed statement to The Standard, Kim S. Armstead of the Oakland Police Department said that such activity remains illegal in the city of Oakland.
“Sales of psilocybin is a felony violation of the CA Health and Safety Code,” Armstead wrote. “Additionally, the Federal Controlled Substance Act (1970) lists psilocybin as a Schedule I substance.” Thus, by the letter of the law, Bliss Mushrooms is an illicit operation.
But far from keeping the kind of low profile one might expect from an illegal operator, Bliss Mushrooms recently placed a full-page ad in the August issue of California Leaf Magazine and currently hosts a website that lists seven smoke shops in Oakland where people can purchase their products.
The retailers listed on Bliss’ website aren’t the only locations where locals have been able to buy magic mushrooms in recent years. Oakland’s Zide Door Church of Entheogenic Plants offers purchase of psilocybin products to confirmed members of its congregation under the protections of a religious exemption. Even so, in 2020, the building housing Zide was raided by Oakland police, who confiscated about $200,000 worth of mushrooms and cannabis as well as some cash. This month, Zide’s leaders responded by filing a lawsuit in federal court alleging discrimination against the church’s religious beliefs.
Despite all this, someone claiming to be a representative for Bliss was willing to go on record with The Standard. After exchanging a series of direct messages via the Bliss Mushrooms Instagram account, a person going by Saint (no surname was given)—who identified themselves as the managing director of the brand—said they would give an interview over the phone. The next day, Saint took our call.
Over the course of a 20-minute conversation, Saint said that Bliss Mushrooms has been operating in one form or another for over two decades. For most of that time, he said, they kept a far lower profile, but in the wake of 2019, they’ve decided to be a little bolder.
“When we got started, there was no YouTube. We had to engage with people on message boards like Shroomery,” he said.
The Standard could not independently confirm Saint’s account of Bliss’ history. But if he is to be believed, the company has come a long way since those early days.