Collage of Amanita Mushroom with Gummy Candies in Background

“A Wild West”: How Amanita muscaria Gummies Mislead Buyers

Some manufacturers say they're selling Amanita muscaria gummies, while in practice, packing the gummies with other drugs.

DoubleBlind Mag

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DoubleBlind // News

“Find white soft stalks with spotted hats,” instructs a deity, according to a legend of the indigenous Koryak people of the Russian far east. “These are the spirits [of the Amanita mushroom].” In the myth, the protagonist is able to perform superhuman feats after consuming the red and white, polka-dotted mushroom — which contain the psychoactives muscimol and ibotenic acid — and following the guidance of the fungus’s spirit.

It has been thousands of years since this tale was first told, and Amanita muscaria remains the iconic fungus in popular culture: in the form of the Amanita-style mushroom emoji, the pages of Alice in Wonderland, items (and characters) in Super Mario, a home in The Smurfs, and atop garden gnomes across the world. But only recently has it emerged as a widely desirable plant medicine, in the form of Amanita-infused gummies, reportedly sold legally in hundreds of gas stations, corner bodegas, and smoke shops across the United States. 

Mushroom in Forest
Amanita muscaria. Image Courtesy of Vasilina Sirotina via Unsplash.

The trouble is that these Amanita-infused gummies frequently have misleading labels. Usually, they include pure muscimol (even though it is unclear whether that brings about an authentic Amanita muscaria experience) but sometimes they do not contain what they purport to. Experts warn that some manufacturers could be branding their products as Amanita because it is legal (in every state apart from Louisiana), while in practice, packing the gummies with other drugs. Certain products, which also include candy-flavored muscimol vape pens and pre-rolled joints containing muscimol mixed with hemp, appear to intentionally foster confusion by simply writing “mushrooms” on the package and not specifying between the different kinds of fungi. 

READ: The Trippy Truth About Amanita muscaria, The World’s Most Famous Mushroom

“Some manufacturers are calling Amanita muscaria products ‘magic mushroom gummies’ and not disclosing what mushroom they contain, or not making it clear Amanita muscaria is a different mushroom than psilocybin and has essentially no clinical evidence supporting its use as a therapy,” said Eric Leas, PhD, an assistant professor at the University of California, San Diego who recently published a paper calling for a public health response to unregulated sales of Amanita muscaria

Is That an Amanita muscaria Gummy, Or Something Else?

“People know there’s money to be made off of this mushroom,” says Kevin Feeney, Ph.D., a lecturer at Central Washington University and author of Fly Agaric: A Compendium of History, Pharmacology, Mythology, & Exploration. “They are doing all sorts of weird things to capitalize. There is a wild west feel to it.”

He says that the creators of some products advertised as Amanita, also known as fly agaric (because it’s prepared as a traditional fly-catching mixture in eastern Europe), appear to be using the legal mushroom as a smokescreen to sell candies which instead contain psilocybin, 4-AcO-DMT, or cannabinoids, as confirmed by recent tests by DoubleBlind and, separately, by community activists. “People have to know what they’re consuming. Fly agaric is being used as an advertising tool to promote a product as being legal.”

Powder in Gold Bowl
4-AcO-DMT. Image Courtesy of DMTrott via Wiki Commons.

It’s unclear where exactly bona fide Amanita muscaria gummies can be found, but what’s for sure is that they will not deliver the psychedelic trip that is sometimes promised. The effects are more inebriating than trippy; more dreamy than stimulating. “Time had slowed to almost nothing and it seemed like a moment of ‘actual time’ was like years of experience,” reports one psychonaut in a trip report on Erowid. “I was moving into some lucid dreaming, and it seemed like I was moving from life time to lifetime.” They went on to describe the trip as “a life-changing, awe-inspiring experience.” However, other experts warn that inexperienced consumers of psychedelics are likely to find a therapeutic dose uncomfortable.

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READ: Psilocybin Found in “Legal” Amanita Muscaria Gummies at Florida Shroom Dispensary

Still, despite its thousands of years of continued indigenous use (sometimes through the second hand consumption of the urine of those who had previously consumed the mushroom, to avoid the side effects of consuming large doses), much is unknown about Amanita muscaria, Feeney adds. “It’s difficult to work with, and to achieve the right dose. There’s not a lot of research on using the pure compounds with humans.” Thus, he says, “There’s not a lot to go off in terms of creating a gummy.”

Manufacturers are therefore wading into uncharted territory with the creation of gummies containing pure muscimol. But that hasn’t stopped them from marketing their products as though they are sure of the effects.

Similarly Labeled Products With Wildly Different Effects

That lack of knowledge is apparent when asking about their effects at stores where they are sold. “It’s a psychoactive mushroom, not a psychedelic mushroom,” says James McConchie, a mushroom educator who runs Haight Street Shroom Shop. “The people that are selling these products don’t even know what’s in them.”

Psilocybin mushrooms at lower doses have energizing, coffee-like effects, but Amanita mushrooms are more sedating, and intoxicating in stronger doses. Many novice mushroom seekers are unlikely to be able to tell the difference, which is a boon to the manufacturers who are marketing their products at those who are new to consuming psychoactive mushrooms.

“It’s a mush rush,” says McConchie, criticizing how the hype around psychoactive and psychedelic mushrooms is providing a lucrative bounty for businesses to profit off, even from dubious products. Even when the Amanita products are legit, he adds, the packaging often provides scant details about what effects its contents will have. “Because there’s this idea of the trip, it’s being misassociated with psilocybin,” adds McConchie. “If you take too much of Amanita muscaria, you’re gonna know and I wouldn’t say it’s a very pleasant experience.”

Mushrooms in Forest
Amanita muscaria. Image Courtesy of Sparrow Smith via Unsplash.

Some brands acknowledge the potential risks and provide guidance on what to do in case of overconsumption.  “Some potential side effects of overindulging include gastrointestinal distress, frequent urination, excessive salivation, sweating, blurry vision, and lethargy,” one product description reads. 

A user on Reddit recently claimed that they ate half a PolkaDot bar, which contains muscimol, from a dispensary and “had a fantastic time” despite believing it to be psilocybin. Still riding that high, they brought another one days later at a smoke shop, at a cheaper price. “Immediately the bar tasted like the driest cannabis-based edible that I’ve ever had. After about an hour or so, my suspicion was confirmed: I had eaten a fake shroom bar that was just a high-THC edible. I know it’s not the worst thing in the world to happen, but a mushroom microdose and an edible high are apples and oranges to me, especially considering I have a VERY low tolerance to edibles.” 

Seekers and consumers of Amanita gummies are experiencing similarly unexpected effects. Though some products, at least, provide clear information on the likely effect of their Amanita-containing treat. “Drift into dreamland with a shroom that puts you to sleep without the high,” one tincture promises. “Formulated to deliver a warm fuzzy feeling of relaxation to help you doze off and wake up feeling recharged.” Underlining the popularity of Amanita gummies, an ad last year for a “party pack” containing a number of “Amanita muscaria” sweets garnered 5.5m views on X.

Other brands hype their Amanita gummy in contradictory descriptions that suggest the consumer will both “blast off to the moon” and experience a “chilled-out” experience. Some products provide no greater description than “psilocybin-free.” Some market a gummy containing muscimol and, to enhance the effect, two cannabis ingredients. “Strap in for a mind-blowing journey where imagination meets infinity,” one product description says. One recent customer warned, in a review on the company’s website, that he still felt high the day after. “These are powerful, strong, be ready and know what you [are] getting into. [Be] mentally prepared and cautious,” he wrote.

Ultimately, McConchie believes that Amanita muscaria, as an entire mushroom, is more valuable than its independent compounds, like muscimol, and that consumers may be missing a trick by not consuming the whole mushroom (once it has been treated for human consumption, since it can present toxicity risks when raw). Either way, given the legal status of Amanita’s psychoactive compounds, “It has a greater potential to have an impact on society quicker than psilocybin does.” If, of course, the products actually contain what they say they do. If someone is expecting a psilocybin-like trip, they are unlikely to have a positive experience.

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DoubleBlind is a trusted resource for news, evidence-based education, and reporting on psychedelics. We work with leading medical professionals, scientific researchers, journalists, mycologists, indigenous stewards, and cultural pioneers. Read about our editorial policy and fact-checking process here.

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DoubleBlind Magazine does not encourage or condone any illegal activities, including but not limited to the use of illegal substances. We do not provide mental health, clinical, or medical services. We are not a substitute for medical, psychological, or psychiatric diagnosis, treatment, or advice. If you are in a crisis or if you or any other person may be in danger or experiencing a mental health emergency, immediately call 911 or your local emergency resources. If you are considering suicide, please call 988 to connect with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

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