You Can Now Buy Psychedelic Plants in San Francisco
A few months ago I was wandering around North Beach for the First Friday art crawl and bumbled into a new store called Professor Seagull’s Smartshop. As someone who really likes mind-altering substances, I was amazed to see a bunch of psychedelic plants for sale. I remember saying something to Benjamin Manton, the proprietor, like “Holy shit, is that San Pedro?”
The answer dear reader is yes, yes it was.
Despite smartshops existing in Europe for over 20 years, Professor Seagull’s claims to be the first in United States. According to the Professor Seagull site, “Smartshop is a term used to describe a shop that sells: Nootropics, Herbal Remedies/After Party Care, and Live/Dried Botanical Samples for Research Purposes. These shops began to open in response to a need for education about entheogenic plants and herbal medicine.”
Despite magic mushrooms being decriminalized in Oakland we still haven’t reached that point in SF yet. So when I asked Manton by email what psychoactive plants Professor Seagull’s Smartshop does carry he sent the following list:
- San Pedro and Peruvian Torch cactus (Contain Mescaline legal to grow illegal to process)
- Egyptian Blue Lotus (Strong Sedative/Euphoriant by Ancient Egyptians, we will be sampling teas and wines of this)
- Salvia Leaf (not the extract but an organic leaf trip similar to dmt)
- Banisteriopsis Caapi (Ayahuasca part 1)
- Chacruna Leaf (Ayahuasca part 2)
- Hape Ritual Snuff (Some similar to Cocaine some meant to pair with dmt)
- Kratom (Safer Alternative to Opiates)
- Kanna (Safer Alternative to Cocaine)
- Hawaiian Baby Woodrose (contain LSA illegal to process)
- Mimosa Hostilis Bark (Sold as natural TShirt Dye Illegal to Process)
You can see what they carry and buy some right here.
As Manton explained to me the goal of Professor Seagull’s Smartshop is to serve as a safe, reliable access point to psychedelic plants and also as a harm reduction institution. They cater to “artists, self explorers and group practitioners.”
Manton also answered a few more of my questions below:
Broke-Ass Stuart: Why did you get into this?
Ben Manton: My first psychedelic experience was at the age of 14, when I snuck into my sister’s room to try and steal some cannabis from her. I found these strange grey sticks and dust that I knew was something because it was in her drug box. I was pretty sure it was what I’d seen in movies called mushrooms so I used google to confirm what I was looking at. I found the erowid site through this search. I decided to eat a small amount and then I took my dogs for a walk around the apartment complex in Phoenix. During the walk I had my own little bicycle day experience, a revelatory psychedelic experience. Since that time I have tried to follow a path that would allow me to be involved in plant medicine and specifically psychedelic plant medicines. This led to my working at and managing a cannabis dispensary (BASA) from 2009-2019. This store is a continuation of that work. I had the idea while in Amsterdam after visiting their Smartshops for the first time. I realized that nearly everything that was available in these stores was legal in the United States, except for magic mushrooms. I was captivated by these strange plants with interesting histories. And as they say ‘if you are interested in it, other people are too.’ The goal of this store is access, education, and harm reduction. People now more than ever are suffering from mental illness and addiction issues. People, in concert with their doctor or on their own journey of personal healing deserve the right to access plants that have existed in a safe relationship with humankind for hundreds if not thousands of years.
BAS: What is your favorite psychedelic?
BM: This is difficult to answer for me! I would say that I like to take mushrooms to be told how things are, to see where I fit into the infinite picture, and to keep in contact with magic thinking. I like to take lsd, because of the subversive nature, the feeling of love conspiracy among outlaw culture, and for programming your mind in a manner of your own choosing.
BAS: When will we see legal access?
BM: I hope that if things go smoothly we will have some action or progress by the end of the year. I was enthused to read Scott Weiners beginning of year newsletter that stated statewide decriminalization was still on his legislative agenda this year. I hope that by opening this store we can garner a little bit more attention from the board of supervisors who so far have been unwilling to really take decriminalizing psychedelics seriously. It’s understandable that during a time where there are many crises taking place in the city that the supervisors are hesitant to move decriminalization forward, but the general population is seeing now that plant medicines and harm reduction are part of a viable solution to these persistent issues. I really look to leaders like Aaron Peskin and Dean Preston to support Scott Weiner’s bill or to move legislation forward on the city/county level if his bill fails. We are already in a situation where we are lagging behind the state of Oregon, and various cities across the country including our neighbors in Oakland, Santa Cruz, and Arcata.
You can pop in and visit Professor Seagull’s Smartshop 1351 Grant Avenue in San Francisco. Or visit them online right here.