A year and a half after Denver voters decriminalized psilocybin, the mushroom industry is moving out of basements and into the light. Lion’s Mane, a store in RiNo that caters to those looking to grow their own mushrooms, plans to play a key role in this growth.
“Once decriminalization moved forward and we got our 50.5 percent yes, Matt and I were like, ‘Denver seems like they might be ready for this,’” says Tatiana Chandee, who opened Lion’s Mane in December 2019 with her life partner, Matt Swift. “We believe all mushrooms are magic.”
Located at 3377 Blake Street, Lion’s Mane, which is named after a type of mushroom, caters to a wide range of fungi fans, including hobbyist growers, decriminalization advocates and chefs. “There have been waves of biology professors and mycology professors. We’ve also had therapists come in,” says Chandee, a music festival consultant.
The store offers just about everything you need to grow mushrooms, including the earth materials, the containers, the tubes and other lab equipment. It also has a literature section with in-store seating for those who want to absorb some mycological knowledge. And while Lion's Mane does not stock psilocybin spores, those are legal to purchase in almost all states, including Colorado.
“It’s really helpful to be able to talk to somebody and have that hand-over-hand experience. A lot of times, people need their hand held,” says Travis Tyler Fluck, one of the key figures behind the decriminalization campaign in Denver. Something of a mushroom whisperer himself, Fluck adds that “this type of store was needed.”
When he visited Lion’s Mane several months ago, Fluck bought an inoculation loop for growing at home. While the store is especially useful for beginners, he notes that even seasoned growers “are actually able to save money” buying big equipment at the store, since they don’t have to pay for shipping.
The store, with plants reaching for its high ceilings, has jungle vibes. But Chandee and Swift aren’t too wild: There are multiple disclaimers pinned up throughout the place, including one that states, “We do not offer cultivation advice due to legal & liability reasons. Thank you for your understanding.”
Even though Denver is ground zero for the American mushroom decriminalization movement, psychedelic mushrooms still aren’t legal here, and they remain highly illegal in the eyes of the feds.
“We also want to stay within federal law,” notes Chandee. So the store won’t sell to anyone who says that they plan on buying equipment to grow illicit mushrooms outside of Denver. Nor will Lion’s Mane supply you “if you say you’re in Denver County and you’re intending to buy our equipment to grow mushrooms and sell them illegally,” she adds.
While people have been staying close to home during the pandemic, interest in growing mushrooms has increased. Although Lion’s Mane was closed to in-store shopping for several months, it offered curbside service and local delivery during that time.
“Some of our local customers were pretty grateful, because they could still get the supplies they needed,” recalls Chandee. “We actually had a little pop in July and August, and I think it was us seeing everyone getting their stimulus checks and people starting to discover the hobby during COVID.”
Lion's Mane is now open for in-person shopping from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. Find more information at lionsmanedenver.com.
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