Money is not the most important thing in the world, but it is a thing. For those interested in the world of psychoactive mushrooms, a legitimate question is how much these things cost[i]. At least you’re going to want a ballpark estimate before you decide whether to pursue this avenue of mind-expansion.
Of course, since psilocybin in any form (even the form of a mushroom) is illegal in many jurisdictions, if you get caught with shrooms they could cost you your freedom, but you already know that.
You want to know about market value.
You want to know how much it will cost to buy some mushrooms, but since buying shrooms is not the only way to get them, we’ll also cover the costs of growing your own and foraging for wild shrooms.
Prices vary, depending on where you live, whether you’re buying from a dealer or directly from a grower, and several other factors—including what you’re actually buying, since while “shrooms” usually refers to Psilocybe cubensis, that species has many difference named strains that vary in both their availability and their demand, plus there are other psychoactive mushroom species available.
And then there is inflation, which can raise the price of even black-market items.
But as of this writing, a-n eighth of an ounce—which is about 3.6 grams—of dried P. cubensis is likely to set you back somewhere between $25 and $40. For many people, that’s about two doses. A whole ounce (28 grams) adds up to around $200.
Expect higher prices if local demand is high, if the laws in your jurisdiction are especially harsh (you pay a premium because the people selling to you are running a risk), and if you are buying from a dealer rather than a grower. Pay attention to quality, too—remember that on the black market, you can’t sue if you don’t get what you pay for. Make sure the person you’re buying from is trustworthy and capable, or you might not get your money’s worth. You could even get something contaminated or adulterated, a very dangerous situation.
Growing mushrooms yourself will work out substantially cheaper on a per-gram basis than buying, though it takes much longer, and you will likely get a lot more mushroom—which is great, unless you really only wanted a dose or two, in which case it might be a bit inconvenient.
The cost of growing depends on what method you use, how successful you are (if several batches get contaminated or are otherwise lost, that’s money lost, too, and how much you are trying to grow at once—big batches do cost more than small ones[ii].
The other variable is whether this is your first batch. For your first grow, you’ll have to buy all your equipment (or, at least whatever equipment you don’t already own and can’t borrow), but on subsequent grows you only need to buy substrate material and other consumables.
PF Tek is one of the cheapest and simplest methods out there, especially if you’re not going to be doing any agar work and therefore don’t need to create a sterile work environment. The most expensive item you’ll need will probably be a pressure cooker, and you might already have one. If you don’t, you can probably pick one up for under $100. Your other equipment is likely to run about $30 total.
As to consumable supplies, you’re looking at brown rice flour, vermiculite, pearlite, aluminum foil, and of course the spore syringe itself—though in subsequent grows you can make your own spore solution, if you get a spore print and have a sterile working environment. $25-worth of supplies will likely get you enough to grow about an ounce of mushroom, which doesn’t sound like a lot until you remember that just an eighth is two doses for most people, most of the time.
So if an ounce is $200 to buy and $155 to grow, that’s a significant difference, but the savings get even more dramatic on your second grow, when you can reuse all your equipment and start over for just $25. And since you are the grower, you’ll know exactly what’s in your product. Your quality and freshness are assured.
But that’s assuming that your grow is successful. There’s always the risk you’ll spend $155 and get nothing but contaminated jars. That’s one reason some people just buy the shrooms.
Most people say foraging for mushrooms is free. That’s not entirely true. For one thing, foraging takes an awful lot of work, because not only must you do the actual foraging, you also must learn to identify the mushrooms. That doesn’t just mean learning the field marks of whatever magic species grows wild in your area—psilocybin-containing mushrooms are small, brownish, and nondescript, meaning they are lookalikes for a huge number of other small, brownish, nondescript mushrooms, including the Deadly Galerina (Galerina marginata), which not-infrequently kills people who look for magic without paying attention to details.
And even if you correctly identify the genus—you really have a Psilocybe or a Panaeolus and not, say, a Galerina—it’s important to figure out exactly which species you’ve got so you can calculate the right dose. Mistake something very potent for something less so, and you could easily take way more than you were intending and get into serious trouble.
You’re going to need to develop real skill in mushroom identification, and that means studying more than the one kind of mushroom you’re interested in. Fortunately, non-psychoactive mushrooms are fascinating in their own right, and many of them are delicious, but acquiring this sort of expertise is not quick—and it’s not necessarily free, either. You’ll need guide books, collecting equipment (basket, knife, brush, and so forth), and quite possibly a microscope. How much it will all add up to depends on how far down the rabbit hole you go, and that’s impossible to say at the outset.
Then consider that while you can indeed go picking mushrooms without paying anybody any money, that doesn’t mean the mushrooms are free. It just means the cost may be being born by somebody other than you. The issue is that wild fungi need appropriate habitat, and in this day and age, that isn’t assured. Were you to buy land yourself in order to maintain your mushroom-foraging patch in safety and good health, that could get extremely expensive. There’s the initial purchase price, and then there’s taxes, plus whatever land-management practices your mushrooms like. If you’re foraging for a dung-loving species, for example, cattle and horses cost money!
Most likely, you are foraging on somebody else’s land, with or without their permission, just hoping they continue grazing cattle, or whatever they’re doing that your mushrooms like, instead of paving it over.
If foraging for wild mushrooms is your thing, maybe you should consider getting involved in land conservation, simply as a way to pay for your supply.
[i] Boeder, J. (2020). How Much Do Shrooms Cost?
[ii] Bulbaphiliac (2013). How Much Did Your Set-Up Cost?