Revised January 15, 2005, July 30, and October 29, 2007
Copyright 1998-2007 by John W. Allen




A page devoted to newspaper clippings, unusual articles some psilocybian mushroom trivia

NEWS ARCHIVES



 
Hello and welcome to our News archives. In this section you will find a wide variety of newspaper clippings regarding the visionary mushrooms. I Started to catalogue these clippings back in 1976.
They are arranged alphabetically by countries and newspapers and then chronologically by dates.
In additon, I would like to ad that one must not beleive everything one reads in a newspaper. Although the majority of these articles are loaded with misinformation, They were at the time, the only sourcew of public knowledge reagrding the sacred mushrooms.

CANADA

British Columbia





 
VANCOUVER SUN
Friday October 17, 1980. Page A1-A2

THE MUSHROOM THAT CHANGED COMOX VALLEY
by Alan Daniels

Courtenay, B. C.


The once peaceful magic mushroom hunt here has festered into open hostility -- and today, in the serenity of the Comox Valley, for the fiorst time there is fear of bloodshed.

At stake is the tiny, legal psilocybin mushroom that grows wild and unwanted on farmers fields and is beloved by drug users as a "natural high."

Cleaned and dry, the magic mushroom sells for $3,000 a pound [dried] to eastern Canadians and U.S. drug dealers.

Farmers here say they have been offered as much as $10,000 for exclusive picking rights and the fecund mushroom fields around Comox are attracting dealers and druggies from as far away as Florida.

Chased away by day, many return at night working by the light of miners' helmuts, crawling on their hands and knees in the long grass.

But as more have come the scramble for possession has grown more vicious.

Pickers talk of shots being fired, of vigilanties beating them up and damaging their cars.

One man, parked without permission on a farm road, returned to find his vehicle filled with manure.

For their part, farmers complain of damaged crops, the destruction of fences and machinery, threats of barn burning and fear of physical intimidation.

At least some of these fears appear real enough.

The RCMP here say 41 pickers have been arrested so far and charged with trespassing or public mischief.

At least opne local farmer is under inverstigation after shots were fired and a picker claimed he was clubbed over the head with the butt of a shotgun.

The worst skirmish so far happened last weekend when between thirty and 40 pickers on the Black Creek property of dairy farmer Dieter and Lilli Doberstein were routed by a group of youn "farm helpers." Fifteen p[ickers were forcibly held as they tried to run for cover and were later arrested and charged by the Courtenay RCMP.

SGt. Dave Rossander, second-in-command of the 33-man Courtenay detachment, said he feared the worst is yet to come.

"I don't have the manpower to go out and police a war and neither do I want to," he added.

"I don't want farmers forming vigilante groups, nor do I want pickers threatening revenge by destruction of property or even threatening people themselves. The concerns are on both sides."

He said because possession of the so-called mushroom in B. C. is legal, thanks to a B. C. Court of Appeal decision last December, pickers feel they have a right to help themselves.

"This is major frustration," Rossander added. "Where the hell do they get the idea that they have the right to go on a farmers' fields?"

At the Doberstein farm, Lilli Doberstein, mother of three children aged 15, 145 and 10, said her family is fed up with constant harrassment from pickers.

"A lot of the farmers are really afraid. This year the situation has gone crazy," she added. "They camp on oour fields, they trample down our crops, leaving wine bottles, tin cans and other garbage which damages our machinery.

"we ourselves have been threatened because we won't give permission to pick."

"We were offered $10,000 for exclusive picking rights on our back fields, but we turned it down. IT sounds square and old fashioned but we are completely against drugs. We have young children, we are law-abiding and we make our living from the dairy farm. This whole thing has been a nightmare for us."

For their part the pickers say the farmers are over reacting. They say they also are afraid of violent confrontations.

In a field off the main Island Highway between Courtenay and Campbell River we talked to several itinerant pickers.

Ute, 20, and her boyfriend, Thomas, 19, said they were from Hamberg, West Germany, and were in B. C. on a working vacation (Ute said she has worked in Vancouver as a nanny).

Sipping from a jug of wine, they were taking a break after picking mushrooms for about three hours. They showed their take so far: 70 to 80 mushrooms. But they insisted they had received permission from a nearby farmer in that location and were picking only for themselves.

"You have to be patient and really look in the grass," said Ute. "Many people just walk around ajnd don't see them. I think many people go away disappointed."

She said they eat 30 or 40 at a time "for a ral high which lasts several hours."

Said Caroil, 23, a first time picker from Alberta: "I look on them as a little gift from nature to help you dee things clearly."

"Today I'm not doing too well. In fact i've only found one so far. It's a hard way to get a high."

Well, anyway, we sugfgested, it's a nice day for it.

She smiled and replied: "Not really. Pickers prefer rain. IT makes the mushrooms grow." [THREE PHOTOGRAPHS]



 
THE VANCOUVER SUN. October ????, 1980
MAGIC 'MUSHROOMS' POSE FEW RISKS
Similar in Effect to LSD.
By Tim Padmore

Thousands of msgic mushroom hunters combing woods and pastures this autumn are running little risk of insanity and death -- unless they pick the wrong mushroom.

According to the medical literature available on the subject and the experience of hospital emergency wards in B. C., most people who eat the s0-called magic mushrooms can expect to experience nothing worst than nausea,extreme derowsiness and temproary, if dramatic mental disturbances.

The sought-after mushrooms contain psilocybinn, a chemical that oftern causes hallucinations when eaten. It is similar to LSD, the illegal hallucinatory drug that became popular in the 1960's.

The B.C. Court of Appeal ruled last December that the Canadian Criminal Code does not outlaw possession of psilocybin containing mushrooms, but only of purified psilocybin. In effect, that made the collection and consumption of the mushrooms legal.

Last mushroom season [1979], 42 cases of presumed magic mushroom intoxication were reported to the provincial drug and posion information centre.

The most serious was a case where a man under the influence, injured his spine trying to fly. Most of the emegency reports describe signs and symptoms such as hyperactivity, hallucinations, nausea, drowsiness, headache: flushes and dizziness.

Gill Willis of the information centre said mushrooms containg psilocybin or other closely related chemicals can cause: *Mood Changes, pleasant or unpleasant, and impaired judgement. *Visual and auditory hallucinations, compulsive movements and laughter. *Dilated pupils, dizziness, poor coordination and a prickling sensation. *Weakness and drowsiness. Sleep is frequently the last stage of the episode, which typically lasts abouut six hours.

Children may be more susceptible, Willis said. In one instance, a six-year-old child developed high fever and convulsions and died, but the death may have been caused by another chemical in the particular species believed to have been consumed.

This appears to be the only death that may be attributed directly to a psilocybin mushroom. One fatality in the Queen Charlottes followed inhalation of stomach contents after the victem consumed a quantity of alcohol and magic mushrooms and threw up.

Willis said the main hazard may be consuming more dangerous mushrooms by mistake.

Pharmacologists attribute the effects of psilocybin to its similarity to a natural brain chemical called serotonin. Serotonin is a messenger that transmits signals between nerve endings. Psilocybin molecules are very much like serotonin molecules, but evidently different enough to alter perception radically.

Most magic mushrooms can be recognized by a distinctive bluing of the mushroom flesh when it is bruised or cut. But there are poisonous boletus mushrooms that produce the same reaction. [Editor's note: Boletus cyanescens is already blue. It does not stain blue and is very toxic].

It is suspected that the bluing reaction may be due to the psilocybin itself and that the extent of the bluing may reflect the potency of the mushroom.

Potency and individual responses seem to vary widely, something that concerns Dr. Edward Margetts, head of the department of psychiatry at Vancouver General Hospital.

"There is really no way of knowning how much you are taking," he said.



 
VANCOUVER SUN. October 31, 1980. Page A3.
MAGIC OF MUSHROOMS CHARMS SCIENCE SLEUTH
By Tim Padmore

The satellite photo of northern Arizona (wrinkled orange hills split by a black Grand Canyon) shimmered and then slid apart into a double image as my eyes uncoupled. For a moment, I saw only a jumble.

THen the pattern shaped itself...A freexze of wide-lipped Chinese lions. Reshaped...A knight in filigreed armor, on a fat prancing horse. Reshaped...Gaping masks peering around the boles of orange trees.

"He's been looking at that picture for 10 minutes now," said Chris Gainor, the Vancouver Sun's medical writer, jerking me out of my reverie and reminding me of why we were there--to investigate the effects of the co-called magic mushroom.

Gainor was speaking to Allan, our medical consultant. A physcian who specializes on the effects of poisons. Allan had agreed to supervise the experiment, but asked that his real name not be used, fearing the opprobrium of his colleagues.

BOULEVARD CRAWL

The unlikely scens--unlikely for a sedate science writer whos experience with mind-altering drugs is normally confined to a glass of claret with dinner--had its origins a week before when the SUn printed a story detailing the conflicts between B. C. landowners and the thousands of people who have been gathering Psilocybe mushrooms through the long Indian Summer. The city editor and the science writer were looking at the page proof and the science writer asked "Since the Supreme Court had confirmed that possession of magic mushrooms is legal and so many of your readers are using them anyway, don't you think wee owe them a story from the consumer point of view."

The next thing I knew, I was on my hands and knees on the boulevard along Southwest Marine Drive scratching through the grass for hallucinogenic mushrooms.

The mushrooms are tiny. Young ones may be only two centimeters high with a cap no more than three millimetres across. They are not easy to find.It is a biut like looking for fleas in a long-haired dog.

After twenty minutes of hunting I reflected that the rumoured street price of $3,000 a pound, dried, is a bargain. At the current picking reate I was earning about $2 an hour.

THe next stop was a mycologian expert on mushroom biology. Once again the aexpert, whom I'll call Miranda, asked for anonymity; ("Otherwise I;ll be swamped with people wanting me to identify hallucinogenic mushrooms.")

Miranda pointed out the characteristics of Psilocybe semilanceata, the species I had collected--the fibrous stem, the blue ring [author's note:Semilanceata does not have a blue ring, Psilocybe stuntzii does), and the "pellucid pellicle," a transparent membrane on the cap.

And patiently she threw out at least a third of my specimens I had laborously collected. A detached cap... "not enough here to be sure." A specimen flattened by a shoe... "Yuck." Another with a dusting of white along the stem. "Mold maybe ok, maybe not."

While misidentification is the major hazard of mushroom collecting it is likely, she said, that many bad reactions are caused by samples of doubtful quality.

Most people in B.C. collect the P. semilanceata species, which grows mainly in meadows, but there are two other less common but still findable varieties that contain the psychedelic drug.

The other two are woodland species and are dangerous to collect because they are easily confused with poisonous species. For exampl, one variety is very lioke certain Galerina mushrooms. Fifteen or twenty Galerinas can kill a healthy adult. These chemical booby-traps can also grow in open areas, particularly if wood mulch has been used on the land. In addition, there are several magikal looking meadowland mushrooms whose edibility is quite unknown. The next question was how much to eat?

Streetlore, an unreliable guide says anything from five to 50. I called Mike Beug at Evergreen State Collrege in Olympia, Washington. Beug is a chemist and mycologist who recently developed sensitive techniques for measuring levels of the hallucination causing chemicals in Pacific Northwest mushrooms.

There was good news and bad news. The good nbews was that the drug concentration in Psilocybe semilanceata is more reliably uniform than in other Psilocybe species. The bad news was that the content of psilocybin (the name of the active ingredient) can still vary by more than a factor of two from mushroom to mushroom.

To make things more difficult, I had no scale suitable for weighing the little devils, making it difficult to compare specimens. Also, I could expect the psilocybin content to fall steadily after harvesting-. TO retard deteriation of my mushrooms, I dried them over alightbulb in myy oven at home.

This part of the story ends with some good news, however, Beug told me that the "dose response curve" that says how the effects of psilocybin change with dosage is very flat, meaning that the effects vary only a little even if the dose changes markedly.

The uncertainties led to a mild feeling of apprehension when we gathered in Gainor's apartment one morning for the experiment. The feeling was largely dispelled, however by a showing of Gainor's movies of successful Apollo moon landings.

SHARP SOUNDS JAR.

A tablespoonful of honey was intended to disguise the taste of the mushrooms, but didn't. The flavor was a compound of ordinary supermarket mushrooms and alfalfa hay, with a dash of dirt.

In half an hour, I noticed a feeling of warmth in my face and hands, and a pleasant floating feeling, and later I felt a slight numbness of the lips, classic symptoms, Allan said.

Sound became important. Sharp Sounds--a ringing doorbell, a slamming door--were distressing. The Mendelssohn overture Fingal's Cave was just right. A feeling of detachement developed. It weas [pleasant to descend into reverie, annoying to have to surface again when someone ask how I was feeling. No true hallucinations ever materialized. In fact, most of the visual effects could be abolished by simply trying to concentrate on the real world.

After about two hours the experience began to wane. I felt weak and drowsy. Other than that there was no terrible hangover.



 
The Vancouver Sun. October 31, 1980. Page A3.
"It'S VERY FRAGILE -- I CAN SWITCH IT ON AND OFF, BUT IT'S NICER WHEN IT'S ON."
By Chris Gainor

When Tim arrived at my apartment for the experinment. I planned to screen a coulple of short fims. But Tim's projector wasn't cooperative and made a loud, clattering sound when I fiddled with it.

The sound didn't bother him before he took the mushrooms, but 40 minutes after the start of the experiment, Tim became greatly irritated by the noise and I abandoned my attempts to get the projector to work.

He also made it clear that he didn't want to listen to any rock records, so he was pleased with my selection of classical music.

Tim seemed to be his usual self until half an hour after swallowing, when he began to become obvious of my presence and the presence of our medical adviser. He sat on the couch, staring downwards, his legs crossed and arms folded. "I feel wuite peaceful," was how Tim put it. Five minutes later, Tim said ha had a floating feeling and noted "waves of something."

Always wanting to make a guest welcome, I gave Tim a book of photos I thought he would appreciate while in a state of serenity. At 55 minutes into the experiment, Tim had been staring at a single photo of rugged earth terrain for about ten minutes. The medical adviser and I were left to discuss matters of mutual interest without reference to Tim, who became slightly flustered whenever we inquired into his condition.

"I wouln'dt describe it as a hallucination," he said at the time, "I can concentrate musch better now. It's a very fragile thing. I fdeel I can switch it on and off, but it's nicer when it's on."

At the next interruption, Tim told us he felt, "a numbness and tautness around the face.

A little more than two hours after taking the mushrooms, Tim was sociable again joining in our conversations without making it seem like we were imposing on him. Three hours after the start, the experiment was officially terminated, the guinea pig apparently safe and sane.


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