Psychedelic Drug Laws in French Guiana: Are They Making Progress?

By Phil Dubley Last Updated: October 31, 2022
Last Updated: October 31, 2022
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Magic mushrooms and other psychedelics have shown efficacy in treating various health conditions. Following the evidence of this new research, many countries are considering legalizing them. Unfortunately, in France — and consequently, in French Guiana — this is not yet a reality.

Keep reading this article to learn about the legal status of psychedelics in French Guiana, their potential therapeutic uses, and what species of mushrooms grow naturally here.

Summary of Psychedelic Drug Laws in French Guiana

  • All substances are illegal in French Guiana.
  • The use and possession of any substance carries a maximum fine of €3750 or a prison sentence of up to one year.
  • Recently, article L-3421 significantly decreased the fine to a maximum of €450 without imprisonment in specific possession cases.
  • France is known for its tough stance against substance use

Are Magic Mushrooms Legal in French Guiana?

No, magic mushrooms are illegal in French Guiana.

French Guiana is not an independent territory but is an overseas region of the French Republic. Therefore, both the French constitution and the French penal code apply here. As such, the laws and the country’s substance stance are pretty unforgiving.

France’s laws consider psilocybin an Annexe III narcotic. As a result, using or possessing magic mushrooms in French Guiana could lead to spending up to one year in prison or a hefty fine of up to €3750.

Nonetheless, the French government recently passed article L3421-1, which significantly reduces the fine to a maximum of €450 without imprisonment in some instances. However, this is far from decriminalizing or legalizing any substance.

Interestingly, leading institutions such as Johns Hopkins Medicine advocate for reclassifying psilocybin, given its effectiveness in treating various psychiatric disorders.

Where to Buy Magic Mushroom Spores in French Guiana

Magic mushroom spores do not contain psilocybin. Therefore, buying spores in French Guiana is legal if you do not intend to cultivate them. This stance is shared with many other countries in the world.

Still, they are complicated to obtain in the region. Finding them in local stores will be almost impossible, and you’ll likely have to rely on online sites and marketplaces.

Do Magic Mushrooms Grow Wild in French Guiana?

Yes, magic mushrooms grow naturally in French Guiana.

There are over 200 species of psilocybin mushrooms thriving worldwide except in extreme, harsh conditions such as Antarctica’s. Conversely, French Guiana’s tropical climate is ideal for shroom growth, and you can spot several varieties growing in the wild.

Panaeolus cinctulus

This species proliferates in well-fertilized soils, and you can also see it growing in clusters on manure. It is one of the most widespread mushrooms worldwide. They usually develop in spring and summer, well into autumn.

Panaeolus cyanescens

This species can grow as an individual or form dense clusters on dung or in the grass near it. This mushroom inhabits both hemispheres in tropical and neotropical climates. They can appear from early summer to late autumn.

Psilocybe cubensis

This is one of the most documented species of psychedelic mushrooms. It can grow solitarily or in clusters on cattle dung and is very prevalent in tropical areas. It prefers humid grasslands, where it thrives from late summer to late autumn.

Psilocybe subtropicalis 

This species is well known in Mexico and Guatemala but also inhabits French Guiana as it quickly grows in subtropical forests. Although it is scarcely documented, we know that it flourishes from June to November.

What Are the Medicinal Uses of Shrooms?

The latest research on the therapeutic use of magic mushrooms yields significant results. Therefore, countries like Portugal and Canada and cities like Denver, Oakland, or the state of Oregon already allow their medicinal use in psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy.

Magic mushrooms can treat various pathologies, including:

  • Depression — Its most recurring symptoms include hopelessness, listlessness, and deep feelings of sadness. The psychedelic experience can facilitate self-reflection, and psilocybin has been shown to reduce symptoms markedly.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) — PTSD patients suffer from anxiety, flashbacks, and intense fear. Psychedelics change the perception of past experiences, helping the patient to open up with the therapist and breaking the pattern of rumination and intrusive thoughts.
  • Existential anxiety — Terminal diagnosis and the imminence of death can cause overwhelming distress to patients. In addition to reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression, psilocybin helps them accept their fate and live in the present.
  • Cluster headaches — This disorder causes severe headaches accompanied by other symptoms such as tearing, runny nose, body aches, and moodiness, among others. Although its cause is unknown, magic mushrooms have shown efficacy in mitigating pain and other symptoms [1].
  • Addiction — Addiction diagnoses are increasing worldwide and are difficult to treat from a traditional approach. However, psychedelics can break repetitive patterns, reduce withdrawal symptoms, and modify self-perception.

Lastly, psychedelic experiences with psilocybin and other substances can enhance creativity and divergent thinking skills and may even improve problem-solving abilities.

Is LSD Legal in French Guiana?

No, LSD is illegal in French Guiana.

LSD is also considered an Annexe III controlled substance as per the French public health code. This means its use or possession could land you a fine of up to €450; if you fail to comply, you could receive a maximum fine of €3750 or a year in jail.

Is DMT Legal in French Guiana?

No, DMT is illegal in French Guiana.

Under French law, DMT is an Annex III substance, so possessing or using it could mean a fine ranging from €150 to €3750, or you could even spend a year in jail. 

Although Annex III lists N-DMT in particular, it would be wise to infer that its derivatives are also illegal. This would include other variants such as ayahuasca, changa — also known as smokable ayahuasca — or bufo toad venom

Is MDMA Legal in French Guiana?

No, MDMA is illegal in French Guiana.

MDMA (ecstasy) is an Annex III controlled substance, so you could face a maximum fine of €3750 or even a year in jail for its use and possession. However, you can avoid this by paying a fine ranging from €150 to €450.

Nevertheless, more countries are studying MDMA’s efficacy in psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy. Although ecstasy will not be legal for public use soon, its decriminalization could be underway, and some countries like the US will likely start MDMA-assisted therapy trials shortly.

Unfortunately, France does not seem very keen on moving past its harsh stance on substance use, so the legal future of MDMA looks bleak in French Guiana.

Is Ketamine Legal in French Guiana?

Ketamine is legal for medical purposes only in French Guiana.

The best-known use of ketamine is as an anesthetic during surgery. However, it is also being studied for use in psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy, mainly as a treatment for depression.

Even so, using and possessing ketamine without a prescription is illegal in French Guiana, and the fine can reach €450 in the first instance. Failure to comply could cost you a hefty fine of up to €3750 or even a year in jail.

Is Marijuana Legal in French Guiana?

No, marijuana is illegal in French Guiana.

Unfortunately, France — and by extension, French Guiana — has one of the strictest and most confusing cannabis laws in Europe. Cannabis containing THC is considered a narcotic and therefore prohibited.

The French government’s website says its use, possession, or cultivation carries a fine of €200. Depending on when you pay, you can reduce it to €150 or increase it to €450.

Paying the fine ends the judicial process but does not prevent the registration of your criminal record. Failure to pay the fine carries a higher fine of up to €3750 or a penalty of up to one year in jail.

Although the law does not specify it, it’s likely that THC isomers such as delta 8 or delta 10 are also prohibited. Hemp is legal, but only if its THC content is 0%. In addition, cannabis seeds are permitted as long as they are not intended for cultivation.

Recently, the French state approved the cultivation and industrial development of medical cannabis. Despite this, the citizens of French Guiana will have to wait until the law is fully implemented and the public health code is duly amended.

What’s the Difference Between Legalization & Decriminalization?

Legalization and decriminalization are two similar but essentially different concepts. We’ll explain both so you can avoid confusion and legal problems.

Decriminalization means eliminating penalties and significantly reducing fines, although the substance’s use, manufacture, and possession remain illegal. 

On the other hand, legalization eliminates all fines and penalties. Still, the state can grant access to the substance, albeit restricted. 

This allows industry regulation, reduces drug-related violence and crime, and provides a regulatory framework for the user, among other benefits.

Key Takeaways: What’s the Future of Psychedelics in French Guiana?

In French Guiana, all substances are illegal, and although they are classified in different schedules, their possession and use entail heavy fines and penalties. 

Although the French government significantly reduced fines and prison sentences, it is far from decriminalizing or legalizing any substance.

Still, research on psychedelics for therapeutic purposes has yielded excellent results in some countries, states, and cities. While many countries are likely to legalize them soon, French Guiana depends on France, which, unfortunately, has a long way to go.


References

  1. Schindler, E. A., Sewell, R. A., Gottschalk, C. H., Luddy, C., Flynn, L. T., Lindsey, H., … & D’Souza, D. C. (2021). Exploratory controlled study of the migraine-suppressing effects of psilocybin. Neurotherapeutics, 18(1), 534-543.