Law enforcement seizures of psilocybin mushrooms rose dramatically between 2017-2022

Feb. 6, 2024
NIH-supported research highlights need to better understand psilocybin in context of growing psychedelic use.

Law enforcement seizures of “magic mushrooms” or “shrooms” containing the psychoactive component psilocybin increased dramatically in the United States between January 2017 and December 2022, according to a new study funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, part of the National Institutes of Health.

The number of law enforcement seizures increased from 402 seizures in 2017 to 1,396 in 2022. In addition, the total weight of psilocybin mushrooms seized by law enforcement increased from 226 kg (498 lbs) seized in 2017 compared to 844 kg (1,861 lbs) in 2022.

The researchers found that most seizures occurred in the Midwest (36.0%), followed by the West (33.5%). The greatest total weight in seizures came from the West (1,864 kg/4,109 lbs, representing 42.6% of all seizures), followed by the South (1,832 kg/4,039 lbs, representing 41.8%). Though there was a significant increase in the total weight of psilocybin mushrooms seized between 2017 and 2022 overall, the investigators found that the total weight seized peaked in 2021 (1,542 kg/3,400 lbs).

This analysis, published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence, was led by researchers at NYU Langone Health, New York City, and the University of Florida, Gainesville. The data used for the analysis were collected through the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) program, a grant program aimed at reducing drug trafficking and misuse administered by the Office of National Drug Control Policy. Though law enforcement seizures do not necessarily reflect prevalence of use, they represent an indicator of the availability of illicit drugs.

NIH release