SANTA CRUZ — At first glance, it looked like an ordinary gardening workshop. On a table at the front of the room sat soil additives, humidity detectors and an oyster mushroom the size of a grapefruit.
“This is a younger shiitake mycelium,” said instructor Will Goss, passing around a bag of wood chips covered in thin white filaments. He then described how to grow the rootlike mycelium from spores and coax it into producing mushrooms. All of the people who attended the workshop were provided with their own grow kits, but they were told they needed to find their own spores.
That’s because they weren’t learning how to grow shiitakes. They were finding out how to cultivate psychedelic mushrooms — illegal to possess under state and federal laws.