Vancouver magic mushroom stores raided by police are reopening

VANCOUVER — One of three magic mushroom stores that were raided by Vancouver police this week has already reopened, and the owner says his other two are restocking and will be back in business on Friday.

The Vancouver Police Department says it executed search warrants at the stores on Wednesday in an investigation into the sale of illegal psychedelic drugs, with officers seizing "a variety of controlled substances."

The stores owned by Dana Larsen are located on East Hastings Street, West Broadway Avenue, and Granville Street.

Larsen says the East Hastings store has already opened, with the other two to follow, and he'll "try to be better prepared" if police visit again.

Larsen says Wednesday's raids were unexpected, and he was held by police for seven hours before being released with no charges and no conditions.

A storefront poster Larsen shared on social media says police seized all the stores' mushrooms, LSD, coca leaf, other drugs and money.

He said thousands in cash and drugs worth tens of thousands of dollars were seized.

"People go through a lot worse things, but it's no fun sitting in a jail cell for seven hours. It's no fun that all of your products are taken," he said.

"Our staff are very upset, some of them are quite worried about their future and their job and whether they want to keep working here."

Larsen said his stores have business licenses from the city, with the annual license for the East Hastings outlet renewed three times.

He said he is now in the process of renewing the license for the West Broadway location and a public hearing is scheduled for Dec. 6.

"The city councillors have the power to let us keep our license. They can add conditions, or they can take it away," said Larsen.

Larsen said police should let politicians make a decision about the fate of the psychedelics business before raiding his stores.

The VPD said in a news release Wednesday that police will consider whether to recommend charges to Crown prosecutors once the investigation concludes.

“We have been clear that anyone who breaks the law by illegally trafficking controlled drugs and substances could be arrested and charged with a criminal offence,” Sergeant Steve Addison said in the release.

“This includes people who traffic drugs for profit from unlicensed and illegal retail businesses.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 2, 2023.

Nono Shen, The Canadian Press