Edinburg Man To Serve Three Years For Manufacturing Illegal Mushrooms
A Shenandoah County Circuit Court judge has decided that an Edinburg man convicted of growing hallucinogenic mushrooms at his residence will serve three years in prison.
Last week, Judge Dennis Hupp sentenced Chad Murden, 25, to 15 years in prison with all but three suspended. Murden must also pay a $2,000 fine and $400 in restitution.
Murden was arrested Dec. 9, 2008 after a controlled buy by the Northwest Virginia Regional Task Force. A search was executed at Murden's home at 4067 Rose Bud Court, with authorities finding guns, surveillance equipment, drug paraphernalia and tins containing the mushrooms at various stages of growth.
Murden had no prior criminal record.
The active amount of incarceration is twice what the maximum suggested in the case ? something that Hupp has done previously with several defendants involved in a local methamphetamine ring, using cocaine as a reference point for sentencing.
Hupp said that he had no good reference point for sentencing regarding the drug. According to Assistant Commonwealth Attorney Amy Tisinger, it was the county's first “foray” with the drug besides simple possession.
After he is released from prison, Murden faces six years of probation with the first four being supervised.
The Shroomery's own Alan Rockefeller was interviewed earlier today by Tony Gonzalez from the News Virginian newpaper. The reporter wanted to get his views after the recent mushroom bust in Waynesboro, Virgina.
Psychedelic mushrooms grow off radar
July 3, 2009 - newsvirginian.com
When Waynesboro police were tipped Wednesday to hallucinogenic mushrooms growing in a local apartment, they organized a seizure in a matter of hours and arrested a man who could be sent to prison if convicted of dealing the psychedelic drug.
But psychedelic mushrooms rarely make their way onto police radar, despite online communities that openly offer tips on growing mushrooms and first-hand accounts of drug use.
Mushrooms, which include the psilocybin hallucinogen, are most often found along with other drugs, according to the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, which rarely targets mushroom growers. Local authorities spoke similarly.
“If we’ve run across these in the past, it’s been possession cases,” Waynesboro police Sgt. Brian Edwards said Thursday.
City police Wednesday seized 107 Mason jars, each containing several psychedelic mushrooms, a record haul, from a New Hope Road apartment. Police arrested Felix Christopher Gutierrez, 31, on charges of possession of a Schedule I controlled substance with intent to distribute and possession of marijuana.
“Very few people actually complain about the police arresting them,” said Alan Rockefeller, 27, of California, who helps moderate online discussions at Shroomery.org, one of a handful of sites dedicated to discussion of illegal psychedelic mushrooms.
“It’s a very vibrant community,” Rockefeller said of online forums, where thousands of mushroom users and growers read and write daily about hallucinogens.
Psychedelic mushrooms can produce intense distortions of reality, emotional disturbances and muscle relaxation, according to the National Institutes of Health and DEA. Effects can last for hours.
Hallucinogens are relatively “non-toxic,” according to a 2008 Johns Hopkins University research paper. That paper reports that studies into the effects of hallucinogens have been recently revived as scientists consider the drugs for treatment of psychiatric disorders and as aids in learning about perception and cognition.
“Hallucinogens ... have not been shown to result in organ damage or neuropsychological deficits,” and are not considered drugs of dependence, the paper states.
The most likely risk is an anxiety-ridden “bad trip,” according to the paper, most commonly found in users who have pre-existing mental illness.
Yet mushroom possession and distribution is a felony, which many users consider out of touch with reality, Rockefeller said.
The Shroomery moderator said some mushrooms can be dangerous, especially those found in the wild and consumed. But online forums can reduce harm to otherwise unknowing users, he said. Rockefeller spends much of his online time helping others identify wild mushrooms.
“It’s definitely easier and simpler to grow them yourself,” he said.
Despite the relatively low risk associated with hallucinogen use, Johns Hopkins researchers recommend “appropriate and conservative safeguards” in any studies using hallucinogens.
Mushrooms are illegal in all states, but the spores used to grow them are legal to own in 47 states.
The Gutierrez case represents perhaps the only “significant” hallucinogen bust in city history, police said after reviewing arrest records.
Gutierrez is being held at Middle River Regional Jail and awaits a July 27 preliminary hearing.
Police found no sales records in the man’s apartment and could not estimate street value of the mushrooms.
Rockefeller said the value “probably wouldn’t pay the rent.”