With its windows covered in psychedelic purple mushrooms and its decals reading “19+”, FunGuyz is located in the heart of downtown Windsor — and it doesn’t appear to be going anywhere.
On a Tuesday afternoon, the interior is mostly empty. An attendant sits behind a long, curved counter, unpacking new stock. Behind the glass are some of the products available, from “psilobytes dark chocolate” to “energy S’mores.”
Those walking past don’t appear to give the store a second glance.
But the product is illegal, and despite two Windsor police raids, no one seems to be able to shut it down.
More on the Windsor location of FunGuyz:
“We battle through adversity,” said a company spokesperson, who said his name was Reggie Waters. “When you believe in something very strongly, there’s almost no barriers to achieve what you set out to do.
“We have a strong focus. We remain committed.”
FunGuyz first popped up in downtown Windsor this summer. Police said in July that they launched an investigation in after “numerous complaints” about a store selling products containing psilocybin, one of the active ingredients in magic mushrooms.
The inside of the Windsor location of the illegal FunGuyz magic mushroom dispensary. The store has been open since June 29, 2023. (TJ Dhir/CBC)
During the raids, police say, they seized psilocybin-infused products, including mushrooms, capsules and chocolate bars. They also seized TVs, a computer monitor, an iPad sales system, ATMs, cash and window signs.
Police charged a 21-year old employee in the first raid and a 22-year-old employee in the second raid, who was scheduled to appear in court on Monday to be spoken to. The dispensary re-opened shortly after both raids.
The shifting identity of FunGuyz spokespeople
Waters declined to give his real name to CBC News, claiming fear of prosecution.
Previously, different spokespeople for FunGuyz have always identified themselves as Edgar, or Edgars Gorbans. When asked if the name was real by CBC News in early August, one spokesperson claiming to be named Edgar Gorbans said “could be,” and “of course not.”
Waters says he has never met “Edgars,” saying multiple people run different locations. He also says even if he was “Edgars,” he wouldn’t say so.
Possessing, producing and selling magic mushrooms is illegal in Canada, but Health Canada acknowledges magic mushrooms and psilocybin could have therapeutic uses.
“While clinical trials with psilocybin have shown promising results, at this time, there are no approved therapeutic products containing psilocybin in Canada or elsewhere,” Health Canada said in a statement. “That means that Health Canada has not received a drug submission involving psilocybin thus has not been asked to review health effects, safety, quality and efficacy to treat specific ailments.”
‘Should be able to’ operate illegally in Windsor
Google Maps shows that 17 dispensaries in southern Ontario go by the name FunGuyz, as well as a location in Montreal. Of those 18 stores, the ones in Windsor, Cambridge, London, St. Thomas and Montreal have been raided by local police.
Waters told CBC News the company expects its locations to be raided by local police, which is “part of the process of dealing with the fight to legalize [magic mushrooms].”
Renaldo Agostino, a Windsor downtown city councillor, says he’s not happy FunGuyz is still there.
“I’m not against people selling stuff, but what I am against is illegal businesses,” he said. “If you’re operating illegally in the city of Windsor, you shouldn’t be able to.”
Agostino says he recently asked members of Windsor’s police board for an update.
For FunGuyz to operate, he says, the federal government and Health Canada have to approve it.
Comparison to formerly illegal cannabis stores
As for Waters, he says it’s not practical to try to get a licence to operate. He compares magic mushroom shops as being similar to formerly illegal cannabis dispensaries.
“The process that it takes for the government to catch up to the medical side of everything and the regulations is just too long,” he said. “It [took] years and years before marijuana became legal. The science came out and everybody had a change of opinion on the legality of it.”
The Windsor Police Service hasn’t responded to requests for comment. But one lawyer says police can only do so much to stop magic mushroom stores.
Renaldo Agostino is the councillor for Ward 3 on Windsor City Council. He says if a business is operating without the proper licenses, they should no longer be operating. (Dax Melmer/CBC)
“The police have limited resources,” said Eugene Oscapella, who’s also a criminology professor at the University of Ottawa. “They have other important priorities and more important priorities, so the likelihood of being shut down and charged isn’t necessarily great.”
Oscapella says there is a much smaller audience for magic mushrooms compared to cannabis prior to the latter’s legalization in 2018. He says although there hasn’t been a major push, historically, to legalize the mushrooms, it could be legalized for therapeutic purposes if demand grows.
Eugene Oscapella, pictured at The Current’s town hall on cannabis legalization on Oct. 15, 2018, is a lawyer and part-time professor at the University of Ottawa. He says local police forces can only do so much to stop the sale of magic mushrooms. (Andrew Lee/CBC)
“There are provisions the current drug legislation, the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, to allow any drug to be used in those circumstances,” Oscapella said. “The Minister of Health can exempt any person or any class of persons from the application of the law if he or she considers it necessary in the public interest.”
Another expert says the rapid increase in magic mushroom dispensaries may fulfil a similar purpose as the former cannabis dispensaries, in that the proprietors are trying to provoke a response.
“They’re not going out of their way to remain hidden and that is eliciting a response from the authorities.” said Andy Hathaway, a sociology professor with the University of Guelph. “It wouldn’t surprise me that we might see legal action as a result of challenges to Canada’s drug laws that make the sale of mushrooms prohibited.”
Hathaway notes a difference, however.
“Some of the operators back then were being quite open in terms of their identity,” he said. “But I guess it hasn’t reached the level yet in terms of the mushroom operators wanting to be more open with regard to their own identities.”
Despite the two raids conducted by Windsor police’s Drugs and Guns Unit, the FunGuyz location in downtown Windsor remains open. Why? A company spokesperson says it’s because they “battle through adversity”. Read More