Transform's view on magic mushroom ban

A close up of a lovely Psilocybe semilanceata Image Courtesy of Peter Bergson

Drug Charity condemns law change giving fresh magic mushrooms the same legal status as heroin and cocaine.(15.07.05)

Some home cultivated Psilocybe cubensis mushrooms. Image donated to us by a member of the Shroomotopia forum. Growing this mushroom puts you in the same category as a heroin dealer, which the SLF think is completely ridiculous, considering the completely harmless nature of these mushrooms.

The SLF wants to see drugs policy decided by specialist professionals and scientific advisors, and that meaningful input is given to users of drugs so that educated decisions can be made as to how best to regulate them in future. We also want to see an abolishment to punitive punishment for drug possession. Prohibition simply doesn't work. FACT.

On July 18 th fresh magic mushrooms will move from being completely legal to possess, sell and consume, to being a Class A drug with in the same legal classification as heroin and cocaine. This means that possessing magic mushrooms will be punishable with up to 7 years in prison, and supplying them punishable with an unlimited fine and up to life in prison. The change follows the rushed enactment of the Drugs Bill in the ‘wash up' week before the General Election. The Mushroom Clause in the Bill, Clause 21, comes into force at 00.00 AM on the morning of Monday 18 th .

Transform spokesperson Steve Rolles said:

'This is an ill thought out piece of drug war legislation tacked onto the end of the Drugs Bill at the last minute. It seems to be the result of Government embarrassment at the emergence of mushroom shops, particularly in areas such as Camden . There has been no meaningful consultation on this move which is not supported by any of the leading drug organisations. It is clearly an attempt to appear 'tough on drugs' rather than being the result of rational evidence based thinking.'

'The outcomes of this change will be all bad. A criminal market will be created where none currently exists. Profits will move from legitimate traders and the inland revenue to illegal dealers and organised crime networks. Thousands of otherwise law abiding citizens, mostly young people, will now face imprisonment for their choice of recreation.'
some Psilocybe cubensis mushrooms.

Many young people who used mushrooms as an alternative to more toxic, risky and illegal recreational drugs such as ecstasy, will now face increased harm. The use of more dangerous - but still legal - drugs such as fly- agaric mushrooms, peyote cactus and salvia divinorum is also likely to increase. The Government has not even tried to argue that fresh magic mushrooms are particularly dangerous. The Government's own ‘Talk to Frank' website says they are "not addictive in any way" and that the biggest danger is accidentally picking the wrong mushrooms, which might be poisonous . It seems particularly bizarre in this context that they are being made a class A drug, putting them on a par with the conspicuously more dangerous heroin and crack.

‘The Government has only said that mushrooms present a risk to people with heart disease or mental health problems, something that is evidently true for any active drug, and surely not a reason for blanket criminalisation of the vast majority of users who don't come within these categories.

‘The Government were legitimately concerned about unlicensed mushroom vendors but should have set up a simple licensing system to regulate the market, putting in place appropriate controls on vendors, age of purchase, advertising, information on packaging, and so on. Instead they have gone for the default position of harsh prohibition, effectively handing control to criminals.‘

The recently leaked drug report by Tony Blair's own Strategy Unit has shown very clearly how prohibition cannot prevent the supply of drugs into the UK , and only succeeds in creating crime. Yet the Government apparently remains addicted to drug war rhetoric, the mushroom legislation being just the most recent example of the harm this addiction can cause.