Laws and Regulations

Is Psilocybin Legal in South Africa?

Written by Robert Hammell

South Africa is a paradoxical country when it comes to drugs. While their drug laws are very strict, they are also rife with corruption.[1] While there is little ambiguity in the laws themselves, there are certain conflicts of interest when it comes to how drug laws are enforced. So, how does psilocybin fit into South Africa’s drug economy?


Psilocybin’s Legal Status in South Africa
Psilocybin is illegal as it is classified as a Part 1 drug, which means it is Undesirable and Dependence Producing.[2] This is the lower drug classification, so it carries a maximum imprisonment of 10 years, a possible fine, or both. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, psilocybin is not a commonly used drug in South Africa, especially compared to cannabis and cocaine.[3] In general, prosecution for psilocybin is rare in South Africa.


The Future of Psilocybin in South Africa
In 2018, South Africa decriminalized personal cannabis use on the grounds that banning the substance was a violation of privacy.[4] In the wake of that decision, many people are speculating that magic mushrooms may be the next drug to follow suit. To start opening the country up to this drug, South Africa has started a clinical trial of psilocybin as a possible treatment for HIV and depression.[5] Other experts have chosen to focus on psilocybin’s potential to cure depression, but if South Africa can find evidence of its effectiveness in treating HIV, that could be a game changer. The country has been overwhelmed by HIV for years, and any effective treatment could make a big difference.[6]


Reference List

1. Writer, S. (2022, April 1). The most common types of corruption in South Africa.

2. South African Government. (1992). Drugs and Drug Trafficing Amended Bill. Retrieved December 9, 2022, from

3. Illicit Drug Markets in South Africa: A Review. (2019, November 25). National Institute on Drug Abuse.

4. Parry, C., Myers, B., & Caulkins, J. (2019). Decriminalisation of recreational cannabis in South Africa. The Lancet, 393(10183), 1804–1805.

5. Times, H. (2022, August 15). Clinical Trial in South Africa to Study Efficacy of Psilocybin on Women with HIV and Depression. High Times.

6. Zuma K, Simbayi L, Zungu N, Moyo S, Marinda E, Jooste S, North A, Nadol P, Aynalem G, Igumbor E, Dietrich C, Sigida S, Chibi B, Makola L, Kondlo L, Porter S, Ramlagan S, On Behalf Of The Sabssm V Study Group Contributors. The HIV Epidemic in South Africa: Key Findings from 2017 National Population-Based Survey. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2022 Jul 1;19(13):8125. doi: 10.3390/ijerph19138125. PMID: 35805784;

PMCID: PMC9265818.

About the author

Robert Hammell