|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.
|The Glasgow Harald|
Friday, September 8, 1978. Page 7.
The 'Magic Mushroom' Craze That Could End in Tragedy
Hard on the heels of the drug sniffing cases comes the magic
mushrooms--fungi which produce hallucinations when eaten.
The mushroom drug cult is growing despite the dangers of poisoning.
A magazine can even be bought in Glasgow's city which explains how
to select and prepare the mushrooms, some of which can be found in any garden.
Mr. David Stephan, director of Palacerigg Country Park at Cumbernauld'
and a widely respected naturalist was probably wide of his mark when he
warned this week that the mushroom Fly Agaric was a killer mushroom.
But the point he was raising, that youngsters seeking kicks by eating
mushrooms could end up damaging their health, is a valid one.
Not only that, but possession of fungi containign hallucinogenic drugs
such as psilocybine will get them into serious trouble with the police and the courts.
Two or three prosecutions have already been heard in Glasgow this year, resulting in fines.
A leading Swiss mycologist, Mr. Pierre Margot, who is at present living
in Glasgow and completing a Ph.D. on poisonous and hallucinogenic fungi at
the Department of pharmaceutical chemistry of Stratclyde University, is
one of those concerned that the antics of teenagers and, more,
pointedly, those moving in "alternative" cultures, could damage ligitmate scientists.
In evidence he can point to the growing number of publications more or less freely,
available which not only advertise kits for growing fungi containing, or alleging to
contain, hallucinogens, but which, in some cases, actually give
details of the difficult chemistry involved in producing these in an acceptable form.
It is disturnbingly simple to put his fears to the test. In the heart of Glasgow,
record stores openly retail copies of "Home Grown," which describes itself as
Europe's first Dope Magazine.
An entire article is devoted to the properties of such common fungi as Liberty
Caps -- Psilocybe semilanceata -- which grow at one time or another
in practically every garden or grass field in Britain.
The Section on harvesting and preserving is explicit. So is the section on ingesting the mushrooms, the amounts to be taken, and the effects --"euphoria with no loss of coherence of clarity of thought."
It is even more explicit on the legal tangle which now surrounds Psilocybe mushrooms and offers readers the address and telephone number of Release, the London based organization for aiding drug addicts.
A spokesman there said yesterday that they would continue to offer those who fell foul of the police for possessing these mushrooms the services of a solicitor specializing in the intricacies of the subject in the hope of organizing an effective defence which would set a legal precedent.
A test case ar Reading Court in APRIL, 1976, involved possession of Liberty Caps. Judge Peregreen Blomefield returned a not guilty verdict since 'psilocin is a chemical and mushrooms are not," adding that he had ruled it was not possible on the evidence to find the accused person or anyone else guilty of possessing psilocin in these circumstances.
But other courts, including Scotish courts, have not followed that precedent, which is not necessarily binding on them, while others have done so and dismissed the charges of mushroom possession. The confusion arises simply because there is n0 specific provision th in the Misuse of Drugs Act, 1971, for "possession of cettain fungi" and there is the case of "cultivation of the Cannabis plant."
In the last week where have been a report -- difficult to confirm officially -- of six cases of mushroom poisoning in Edinburgh alone. The drugs squad at Lothian and Borders Police have no knowledge of the cases, although they do confirm that three prosecutions are pending for possession of controlled substances involving fungi.
Their attitude -- and that of the drugs squad in Glasgow -- is a civilized one, and touches on an area of concern for ligitame scientists who study mycology.
Both squads say that they have no intention of chasing mushroom pickers through the fields and parks of Edinburgh and Glasgow -- but if a house is raided and illegal drugs foound, including psilocybin in fungi -- then a prosecution would result.
The only cases so far have resulted rom mushrooms turning up during searches for harder drugs.
Meantime, all the evidence indicates that the use of "magic mushrooms" by teenagers, students and adults into underground culture is a growth industry in Scotland as well as in England. The reluctance of such experts as the mycologists at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh and the forensic scientist Pierre Moargot to discuss the problem openly for disseminating potentially harmful knowledge, is an obtuse, but strong pointer.
And, on the subject of David Stephan's vexed Fly Agarics, the American scientist who has spent a lifetime, researching the vast body of mythology, cult and fable surrounding this "Divine Mushrooms of Immortality" -- R. Gordon Wasson -- has written that all the evidence on death from Fly Agaric is inconclusive.
On the other hand, Pierre Margot says that another, similarly shaped although differently coloured mushroom -- Amanita pantherina, or the Panther Cap -- have shown especial abundance this summer. He has even seen it in Milnegavie. It definitely is poisonous and would cause death.
David Stephan's warning therefore carries weight, but even more forceful is the warning of Dr. Hamid Chodse, a London drug clinic doctor, who, in warning that little was known about the effects of hallucinogenic mushrooms, added; The stronger the hallucinogen, the greater the danger.
The Glasgow Harald
Friday, September 8, 1978. Page 7.
flying high on magic mushrooms?
By Auslan Cramb, Scotland Correspondent
FATHER Christmas's magical ability to girdle the world and drop presents at every child's home was explained in earthy terms yesterday.
Like reindeer herdsmen in Lapland, he could be hallucinating on fly-agaric mushrooms, said Dr Ian Edwards, head of education at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh.
Dr Edwards told a seminar that the story of flying reindeer spread south to central Europe in the 19th century. It originated with the Sami people of Lapland, one of the oldest indigenous cultures in the world.
"They used to feed red and white fly-agaric mushrooms to their reindeer, then drink the animals' urine.
"The idea was to receive the drug in a safer and more processed form. Drinking the urine would give them a high similar to taking LSD.
"One of the results was that they thought they and their reindeer were flying through space, looking down on the world."
Dr Edwards also suggested that the red coat of Father Christmas could have been inspired by the bright colour of the mushroom.
Dr Edwards said the behaviour of the Sami was described in a museum in Lapland and could date from pre-Christian times. He understood that the practice had diminished in recent years.
|Scotland on Sunday
Sunday December 14, 2003
UK: Class A Nibbles Hit the High Street
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX URL: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v03/n1917/a09.html Newshawk: Kirk Pubdate: Sun, 14 Dec 2003 Source: Scotland On Sunday (UK) Copyright: 2003 The Scotsman Publications Ltd. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/405 Website: http://www.scotlandonsunday.com/ Author: Ian Johnston Cited: Scotland Against Drugs http://www.sad.org.uk/ Bookmark: http://www.mapinc.org/topics/magic+mushrooms
CLASS A NIBBLES HIT THE HIGH STREET
BANDS of hippies in search of a memorable high at a low cost once tramped the countryside in search of this illicit fungi.
The hallucinogenic effects of magic mushrooms were generally restricted to those determined enough to scour forests and secluded glades at the right time of the year.
But help is now at hand for those who find reality too dull and can't be bothered to leave the city in search of a solution.
Magic mushrooms, despite containing a Class A drug, have recently gone on sale in Scottish shops without - so far - attracting the attention of the police.
Retailers are making full use of vagueness in the law which means magic mushrooms are only illegal if they are 'dried' or 'prepared'.
For nearly half a century, The Pipe Shop on Edinburgh's Leith Walk, has been one of the top places to buy Havana cigars in Scotland. But, alongside the jars of specialist tobacco and a massive humidor full of the finest Cuban tobacco leaves, there are now discreet signs offering "Mexicana magic mushrooms" for UKP12 a bag.
And a former greasy spoon in Leith - newly converted to an internet cafe and renamed 'Purple Haze' - has also diversified into the business, selling both the Mexican and Hawaiian strains.
The tobacconist and cafe owner both have a letter from the Home Office that indicates the sale of magic mushrooms is legal, providing they are sold in their natural state.
However, Scottish authorities appear ready to adopt a hardline stance on the sale of the mushrooms, which contain the class A substance psilocybin, that could lead to life sentences for both men if a judge interprets the law differently.
Tobacconist Alan Myerthall, 58, makes an unlikely supplier to the students, businessmen and pensioners who flock to his shop.
While he enjoys a cigar with a glass of red wine or the occasional whisky, he would never dream of taking a mushroomed-fuelled trip.
He said: "As far as I'm concerned other people can do as they please. We get absolutely no trouble from our mushroom customers.
"We are selling magic mushrooms and truffles, and as far as I'm concerned it's legal.
"It is a natural product. What's inside the mushrooms is a class A drug, but it doesn't seem to be doing anybody any harm. People don't seem to be getting addicted to it. It just seems to be a bit of fun."
Myerthall got into the business after expanding into the sale of extra-large cigarette papers used to smoke marijuana cigarettes, bongs and "herbal highs" such as the hallucinogenic herb salvia divinorum.
A supplier suggested he should sell magic mushrooms and, after initial scepticism, he decided to stock them. Most are grown in Holland and then shipped into Britain by wholesalers.
"We started selling the mushrooms as an experiment and it just took off. It's been very big," he said. "We have a sign up but I would like to keep it low profile. I just hope I don't get any flak from trading standards or the Home Office."
Magic mushrooms were once used by a minority of drug users, but there are now estimated to be more than 10,000 regular users as it becomes part of the mainstream drug scene, used at student parties and in nightclubs.
Paul Stewart, 37, of the Purple Haze internet cafe on Portland Place, near the Ocean Terminal complex in Leith, sells Mexicana, at UKP15 for a 30g bag, and the stronger Hawaiian mushrooms, at UKP12 for 10g.
"The more people take magic mushrooms the better as far as I'm concerned, especially politicians. It might broaden their minds. Jack McConnell should take a bit," he said.
"I think everyone should try everything once, apart from hard drugs. I don't think I'm doing anything immoral or illegal."
A letter from Ian Breadmore, of the Home Office's drug licensing section, seems to support the latter claim at least.
"It is not illegal to sell or give away a freshly picked mushroom provided it has not been prepared in any way," he says.
However, Breadmore warns that legal advice should be sought on what "prepared" means. "It would be for the courts to determine whether chilling mushrooms in a fridge constituted altering them in any way," he says.
Alistair Ramsay, of Scotland Against Drugs, said he thought the police should investigate the sale of the mushrooms, arguing that even cutting them from the ground could be viewed as "preparation".
"If they then sell it, the penalty open to the court would be life in prison," he said.
"Psilocybin is a very powerful drug and I think it is ridiculous we should be able to buy illegal substances through commercial premises.
"I think it is highly irresponsible to sell them. Would you want a bus driver under the influence of this? Someone using heavy machinery? A pilot?"
A police source said even putting magic mushrooms in a bag or allowing them to dry out while waiting to be sold could constitute "preparation" and lead to arrest.
"I think the people selling them are on dangerous ground," the source said.
And a official spokeswoman for Lothian and Borders Police confirmed: "If we received information regarding psilocybin we would have an interest in that because it is a class A controlled drug and supply of that would be viewed as an offence."
Neil Montgomery, director of research at the Institute for the Study of Psychoactive Substances in Edinburgh, who gives evidence in court cases about the effects of drugs, said someone taking a small amount might hardly notice anything.
However, colours could appear to be more vivid and shapes more distinct. Giggling fits are also common.
But taking a larger dose produces a significant effect on the brain and the world becomes "slightly surreal".
"It seems to be an internal process of examining your own thoughts and perceptions. It does tend to make you concentrate on the bigger picture," Montgomery said. "You're much more concerned about saving the whale than whether or not your paper arrived on time."
However, it can also make people obsessively interested in simple things.
"You may feel you have a bit of a bounce in your step when walking. You could get drawn into the process of walking and disappear for two hours examining that. I suppose that could be a problem, but you're not going to find yourself sleeping in a chair or trying to jump out the window."
But Montgomery warned that people occasionally had a bad reaction to the drug. "I think paranoia is the most dangerous effect. Some people cannot quite cope with the altered state of self that you get."
Test case could clarify law on
sale of 'magic mushrooms'
The prosecution of Paul Stewart, who runs the Purple Haze Cafe in Leith, would be a test case that would establish whether selling the hallucinogenic fungi is a criminal offence.
The mushrooms contain the class A substance psilocybin but grow naturally, and it is not illegal to pick and eat them.
However, preparing the mushrooms in any way - such as making them into a tea as some users do - constitutes a criminal offence.
Anti-drugs campaigners have claimed that cutting the mushrooms from the ground or keeping them in a fridge could constitute preparation, something that would have to be decided by a court.
Scotland Against Drugs said it would watch the case with "great interest", adding that it could open up a "whole new avenue" to mount prosecutions.
Mr Stewart, 37 - whose attempt to open a private club where people could take cannabis in his cafe on Portland Place ended after he was raided by the police on its first night - said he had been charged after selling magic mushrooms to two undercover police officers.
"Drugs squad officers came to the cafe, arrested me and took me to the police station," he said.
"I pointed out that before I sold magic mushrooms I wrote to the Home Office, who employ the police, and they sent me a letter saying as long as itís not prepared itís all right.
"Iím facing four charges relating to class A drugs. Iíve been classed alongside crack cocaine and heroin dealers. Iím devastated, Iím really hurt.
"People have been taking magic mushrooms for thousands of years and animals take them. I only sell about £40 worth of mushrooms every month, I hardly sell any."
Mr Stewart, who complained that other people selling the mushrooms were not being prosecuted, said he now planned to leave Scotland and live in Spain.
The sale of magic mushrooms rocketed after the Home Office issued a letter to Mr Stewart and others saying that it was legal, provided they had not been prepared.
However this guidance has since been "clarified" and attention has been drawn to a case in 1990 when a magic mushroom seller was successfully prosecuted. The court held that as the mushrooms had been picked, packaged and frozen they had become "a product" and therefore something covered by the 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act.
In February, a shopkeeper in England who had been selling fresh magic mushrooms was charged by the police with intent to supply class A drugs and is currently awaiting trial.
Magic mushrooms were only taken by a small number of drug users, who would scour forests and secluded glades to find the illicit fungi.
But it is now estimated that there are more than 10,000 regular users after the mushrooms became part of the mainstream drug scene, partly because they became available over the counter at a number of shops and cafes across the country.
A justice source in Scotland said the court in Mr Stewartís case would have to decide whether the mushrooms had been prepared in any way. "Thatís the bit thatís got to be proved in court. Obviously in this case the procurator fiscal feels the evidence is complete," he said.
Alistair Ramsay, of Scotland Against Drugs, has previously called for a strict interpretation of preparation when dealing with magic mushrooms to prevent the commercial sale of a class A substance.
"Itís within the power of the court to make the decision as to whether or not somebody is guilty or innocent of the drugs-related offence," he said.
Lothian and Borders Police declined to comment, saying the matter was sub judice, and no-one from the Crown Office was able to comment.
Monday,May 17, 2004.
Friday, September 24, 2004
Magic mushroom sellers escape court
Paul Stewart with some magic mushrooms. Picture by Colin Hattersley
The first attempt in Scotland to prosecute high-street shops for selling magic mushrooms has failed, The Scotsman can reveal.
The Crown Office has decided not to proceed with cases against a tobacconist and a cafť owner, leading to claims that it gives a green light to sell the hallucinogenic plant, which contains a class-A drug.
Paul Stewart, who was fined £500 after attempting to turn his premises in Leith into a Dutch-style cannabis cafť, said he now planned to open a shop selling magic mushrooms and other mind-altering, but legal, substances.
Anti-drugs campaigners expressed dismay at the decision and said a court should have been allowed to hear the case.
Magic mushrooms, which contain the class-A substance psilocybin, grow naturally in Britain and are legal only if they are not prepared in any way. The definition of "preparation" was crucial to the case - the campaign group Scotland Against Drugs had argued it could mean cutting them from the ground, putting them in a bag or keeping them in a fridge.
Mr Stewart, of the Purple Haze cafť in Leith, and Alan Myerthall, of the Pipe Shop in Leith Walk, were both charged by police after selling magic mushrooms to undercover officers.
However, a spokesman for the Crown Office said both cases had been marked "no proceedings" by procurators-fiscal.
Mr Stewart said he started selling magic mushrooms to highlight drug laws that banned him from selling cannabis but allowed the sale of the class-A fungi to children.
"Iíd never do that, but thatís the hypocrisy of the drug laws in this country," he said.
"This [the decision to drop the case] has given me the green light and Iím definitely going to open a shop in the town, selling everything legal - magic mushrooms, hallucinogenic cactus and liquid ecstasy, which is some kind of herbal concoction. It will be a smart drug shop.
"We have got to accept in this day and age people are going to take recreational drugs," he went on. "Iím not interested in hard drugs, but if people are going to take recreational drugs, why not try legal alternatives first?"
Mr Myerthall said he had known the prosecution would not go ahead from the start. "The police are not interested because weíre not breaking the law. You cannot charge people with selling something thatís legal," he said.
Scotland Against Drugs insisted the decision to drop the case did not give a green light to others, because a legal precedent could be set only by a court ruling. Its director, Alistair Ramsay, said: "Itís disappointing the legal definition of preparation of magic mushrooms as a class-A substance will not be determined by a court.
"Itís likely that the confusion will continue, and this is to be regretted."
He said the police should still take action against anyone trying to open magic-mushroom shops and added: "Psilocybin is covered by the Misuse of Drugs Act in the same way as heroin and cocaine are class-A drugs.
"The law can still be executed with its full force at any time in the future. Somebody, somewhere, is going to bring down the full force of the law."
Lothian and Borders Police confirmed that both men had been charged but declined to comment on the decision to drop the case.
The Scotsman. News.Scotsman.com. Internet news item form Scotland.
December 17, 2004.
Magic mushrooms face ban
The government today announced it was making raw magic mushrooms an illegal drug in the UK for the first time.
Currently it is legal to pick and eat the fungi but not to prepare them, by drying them out or brewing them as a drink.
This concentrates the hallucinogenic agent in the mushrooms and therefore renders them illegal. The move in todayís Drugs Bill published by new Home Secretary Charles Clarke will affect Scotland, officials confirmed.
It follows growing concern over shops and small businesses farming, harvesting and selling the mushrooms as a small-scale commercial operation."