21-year-old Weston Soule was running a secret psychedelic mushroom-growing powerhouse out of his own home in Burlington, Connecticut, according to The Drug Enforcement Agency Hartford Task Force and The Statewide Narcotics Task Force North Central Office.
On the morning of November 2nd, detectives entered Soule’s home with a search warrant and made a shocking discovery: about $8.5 million worth of psilocybin mushrooms stacked in hundreds of bags on shelves in this Connecticut home. After Connecticut’s Narcotics Task Force was notified about his alleged mushroom emporium, detectives went to Soule’s home to investigate.
They first looked at the garage, where Soule told officials that the mushrooms they observed were legal, said police. When he wouldn’t allow them entry into his home, they returned with a search warrant written off by a judge.
The shroom findings
Shelves upon shelves held many bags of psilocybin mushrooms in various growing stages. In photos, as seen above, these metal shelves are seen in multiple rooms of Soule’s house.
Outside the house, officials laid out a spread of the mushroom bags collected from inside.
Officers and detectives also noted ventilation equipment that is typically used in undercover laboratories throughout the home. This secret growing project operated mainly out of the detached garage where officials had started that morning.
The owner of this house was not aware of the operation, Soule was actually a renter of the property, according to state police.
Some neighbors did notice some people going from the garage to the house in the daytime, but they didn’t think much of it, reported Connecticut’s News8.
Under pressure, Soule eventually came around and admitted to police that the mushrooms were psilocybin, a psychedelic substance.
Soule was arrested and taken into custody immediately, where he was charged with possession with intent to sell/distribute narcotics and the operation of a drug factory. This could lead to up to 3 years in prison and some pretty large fines.
While he was supposed to have an arraignment at New Britain Superior Court on November 16, the case was continued later.
What is psilocybin?
Psilocybin is a psychoactive compound that is naturally occurring, and many different types of fungi produce it. People also refer to it as ‘magic mushrooms.’
Famous for its hallucinogenic effects, this drug can alter one’s mind and level of consciousness. Some institutions have recently studied its potential to help the brain with mental health issues.
The federal government considers psilocybin a Schedule 1 substance. The Drug Enforcement Administration defines a Schedule 1 substance as a “drug with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.”
The psychedelic debate
While people have revealed their horror stories of taking a psychedelic ‘trip’, studies prove some interesting points about beneficial mental health relief relating to these drugs.
The results of a recent study show how psilocybin could produce equally the same effects, or even greater, as anti-depressants for those who struggle with severe depression.
Other institutions, such as John Hopkins University School of Medicine, have also studied how psilocybin mushrooms can be used for the greater good when it comes to depressive disorders. They have been one of the first pioneers to study the potential benefits of psilocybin. Their results have shown the way that this psychoactive substance can reduce severe symptoms for those with depression and anxiety.
However, scientists and researchers are still trying to understand the long-term effects of these kinds of drugs as they go about their research.
In fact, a Change.org petition was started to lift the charges that were pressed on Soule. Supporters of this petition argue that, as with cases like Soule’s, instead of criminalizing substances such as psilocybin mushrooms, the law should be more focused on problems like the fentanyl epidemic.
Some states, such as Connecticut, have been trying in recent years to decriminalize these psychedelic shrooms. People want to use psilocybin for recreational purposes or so that it can be further researched and used for mental health benefits they might have.
Colorado and Oregon have already achieved the legalization of this substance. In the coming years, lawmakers may be pushed to reconsider their current stances on psilocybin’s legal status.