Brown student facing drug charges
The police say the 19-year-old Brown University summer student was in possession of 50 pounds of "magic mushrooms."
PROVIDENCE -- A summer student at Brown University is to be arraigned this morning on drug charges in connection with the seizure on campus two weeks ago of $37,000 worth of chocolate-covered hallucinogenic mushrooms.
Ryan Stitham, 19, had left his dormitory with a bag filled with nearly 50 pounds of the packaged mushrooms and $12,720 cash when he was stopped by a Brown University detective, the police said.
The discovery of the so-called "magic mushrooms" was a rare find for the police. Providence police narcotics Lt. Thomas Verdi said the detectives seldom come across these drugs. This discovery was the biggest in years, the police said.
The mushrooms are treated with the hallucinogen, dipped in chocolate and frozen in an ice-cube tray, Verdi said. "They look and smell like candy," he said.
Stitham is from Dover-Foxcroft, Maine, where his father, Kevin Stitham, is a District Court judge in Piscataquis County.
The police had gotten a tip two weeks ago that Stitham had the drugs, and they began to watch him on July 15.
As Stitham left the dormitory with the bag slung over his shoulder, heading for a pickup truckwith Maine license plates, Brown University Detective David Boucher stopped him. When Boucher told Stitham why he was being stopped, the young man immediately demanded to speak with a lawyer and wouldn't answer questions.
The police seized Stitham's passport, checkbook, cell phone, and found that he'd been traveling frequently to Amsterdam, Verdi said. They also seized a Dell computer from his dorm room and documents about producing psilocybin -- the term for hallucinogenic mushrooms. The mushrooms in Stitham's possession were sent to the state toxicology laboratory for analysis.
Stitham is to be charged with felony possession with intent to deliver narcotics.
The drug-laced mushrooms have been turning up sporadically across the state over the last year. An Attleboro man was arrested in Lincoln during a traffic stop on Saturday after he was allegedly caught with several baggies of mushrooms, marijuana, cocaine, and a large amount of fireworks.A South Kingstown man was charged with possessing two dozen hallucinogenic mushrooms in February. Last November, a New Jersey man involved in a three-car crash in Pawtucket was allegedly caught with the drugs in his car, and a student at the University of Rhode Island was arrested when the drugs were found in his dorm room.