Created June 28, 2001. Revised August 3, 2009; May 5, 2013; and April 14, 2017.
Copyright 1998-2017 by John W. Allen.



THE GRAPE VINE:
MUSHROOM NEWS ITEMS OF THE WORLD


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Psilocybe semilanceata (the 'liberty cap.') - Psilocybe stuntzii (the 'blue ringer.')



 
A section devoted to newspaper clippings, unusual articles and 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 1973. All together there are more than 100 pages of news items of incidents involving psilocybian mushrooms. They are arranged They are arranged Chronologically by their dates of publication. This page features news items from the State of Washington, USA.

I want to note that if anyone here reads the complete news items of Oregon and Washington, you will notice that from 1971 until the mid to later 1990s, a majority of the news itens were rather humorous and shrooms were in their infancy and most people, included law enforcement bothered no one for picking them, outside of a few tickets and many scholars and mycological experts all agreed, even the state Police, that these mushrooms were not dangerous to anyone and were not harmful to the thousands of daily pickers.

Since 1998 and on, the articles are more about how many people are all of a sudden getting busted, many for growing too many shrooms (some over 500 pounds at a time) and many for being stupid like driving stoned with no tags or smoking dope on the road and no license. Or making candies and doses. From the early 1970s until the mid 1980s, everyone went to the fields and picked liberty caps and it was a fun thing. Now the Law Enforcement and DEA are involved because people are selling these shrooms on the streets and in the schools. This ruins it for many of us.
I should also like to mention that many of these news clippings contain many instances of providing the public with serious mis-information regarding the visionary mushrooms. So do not rely fully on the articles as being reliable information but rather are here just for your reading pleasure. Regardless of such sensationalistic journalism over responsible reporting, these news items and clippings are still a valuable source of history. Please Enjoy.




WASHINGTON: Page 1 of 4  
UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON DAILY
October 29, 1973


Down on The Farm With the Slugs, Cows and Magic Mushrooms
By Timothy Egan

Out through the glazed over crust of one half-closed eye I can see pencils, heavy and sharp, of gray, guaranteed-to-soak Pacific Northwest liquid shooting down. My back hurts, my head is playing bongo drums and it's Saturday; no time to be even remotely cognizant of the fact that 6 a.m. is gloating back at me.

The spinach-colored dawn seems infinitely less inviting and attractive than say, watching a pair of slugs copulate to the romantic backdrop of a pile of old grass clippings. Yet, it has a calling.

For one thing, the rain is actually a godsend, a wet manna squeezed on the dry spell. And now it looks like it won't let up for a few days. Perfect. Ideal.

I'm told we couldn't ask for better weather, because to a burgeoning cult of hardnosed yet whimsical folks, the coupling of the rain with early autumn has come to mean only one thing - mushrooms. Sometimes called magic; technically called Psilocybin and legally called felony, as in five to ten years.

But jail sentences for psilocybin -- picking are extremely rare, like this unusual Indian Summer we've had. It's not often that anybody would actually pray for rain; But pray they did. It has been a dry season, according to magic mycologists.

On this welcomed soggy Saturday I was promised a guided tour, a genuine expedition into the heartland of one of the choicest magic mushroom hunting grounds in the country. We were headed for Whatcom County, outside the college town of Bellingham, where the magic mushrooms grow abundantly in sleepy, tucked-away cow pastures. "It'll be worth it," I was assured.

This peculiar fungus we were going to hunt is an old inhabitant of spongy Western Washington. It loves moisture, hides in tall grass and craves slightly fermented horse and cow manure.

The mind-altering psilocybin mushroom has caused more than it's share of controversy. In Redmond, it's been the hottest thing since "The Cheerleaders" came to a local drive-in. --And the mushroom has even been found on U.W. grounds.

Dr. Daniel Stuntz, a University botanist and advisor to the Puget Sound Mycological Society, said he's noticed the tiny magic mushroom "many times on campus, but not yet this year." Stuntz said the lifespan of the mushroom is only three or four days and they grow on Campus, "probably because of the soil content of sawdust mulch that is used here in certain areas.

There are almost 4000 different types of mushrooms in this country, said Stuntz but only six, of which two varieties are frequently seen in this area, have managed to capture the imagination and the attention of authors, sociologists, folklore enthusiasts, prosecuting attorneys and sheriffs alike.

Tom Robbins, the LaConnor author who wrote of a merry band of free-spirited mushroom consumers in his popular novel, "Another Roadside Attraction," is considered by some to be the Northwest godfather of the mushroom cult.

He admitted first using "the magic mushroom" in the late sixties but he now bemoans the phenomena he helped start. "Collecting is growing by leaps and bounds," he complained. "The Skagit Valley is now being overrun by pickers."

The art of harvesting magic mushrooms is a fairly recent pastime in this country. Widespread consciousness of the 'mushroom high' came at the same time Grace Slick was singing..."go ask Alice, when she's ten feet tall." But it goes further back than that.

It goes back 3,000 years, to the steamy jungles of Guatemala. Archeological 'mushroom stones' indicate that a sophisticated mushroom cult existed in Central America almost a thousand years before Christ was toasting wine at wedding receptions. Early Spanish chroniclers wrote of mushrooms the Aztecs called teonanácatl, meaning "food of the gods," which were taken ceremonially for divination, prophecy and worship.

The religious overtone is of the mushroom have all but entirely faded into the multi-faceted motives of today's users. But the "purists" that I was traveling with said half the reward is in the picking itself. I would soon find out.

After a thermos of coffee and 90 miles we arrived in Bellingham. My companion said we had to go see the guru before foraging began. The guru was a 23-year-old Bellingham student who lived in a make-shift cabin no bigger than the UW HUB men's room, but not much more attractive.

His name was Jason and he wore a thick buckskin coat, a pair of time-worn levis and a rain-soaked shook of a blond beard. He greeted us warmly and showed us a days catch--a carton full of small cone shaped-cinnamon colored psilocybine mushrooms. "It'll be good picking today," he said gently, "the rain has really helped." Jason then drew us a map of what he called "the promised land" and wished us luck. I later found out he was the son of a prominent Spokane doctor.

With the mushroom guru's blessing we set out through the damp morning, headed east, towards Mt. Baker. We waded through numerous on a poorly kept road and arrived finally, at the gateway.

Now there was only one obstacle left in the path to the golden fungus. To get to the hidden field we had to cross two barbed wire fences, ignore an ostentatious "no trespassing" sign and keep our eyes open for the 12 gauge.

Immediately, as if guided by instinct, my guides set out crawling through the knee-length, water saturated grass. The rain kept streaking down yet they were acting like a couple of gold-crazed miners in an Alaskan boom town. "There's "shrooms awaiting us, c'mon," one of them hollered.

What is this madness, I thought. Why are those people dragging themselves through this ungodly drizzle? I was already soaked to the inner layer of my skin before I'd even consider getting down with the slugs and cow dung to search for this crazy magic mushroom.

Even though I had a good amount of prior instruction of the physical characteristics of tiny, hooded creatures, I still wasn't sure what to look for.

Stuntz, an expert mushroom picker who "has never collected the magic mushroom myself," said the most common Psilocybe mushroom is a small cone-shaped item with brown gills, but easily confused with certain non-hallucinogenic and even poisonous, as in sick, mushrooms.

The farmers in this area are not exactly pleased with those psychotropic wonders that grow in their fields. Whatcom County Prosecutor Dave McEachran says every fall his office receives numerous trespassing complaints from the local yokels. "It's something that has increases every year," he added. "Just about this time of the year it's the same story.

Well, the force of nature were apparently with us. Either that or this particular farmer did not believe in the American early-to-rise ethic, because not a sign of movement could be seen in the old farmhouse.

We crawled under the two fences, plowed through the wet heavy brush in back of the farmhouse and set eyes on the fungus among us. A herd of dull-looking cattle greeted us with apathetic stares and left us do our doing in the ten-acre mushroom nursery.

The good doctor also advised "not eating anything you aren't sure of." So with those words of caution tucked somewhere in the back of my mind, I set out on my knees threading through the grass, in a cow pasture on a Saturday morning and became as one with the all-encompassing moisture.

I've always felt a healthy degree of disgust while watching cattle graze. I mean it looks so boring, so meaningless. Well, I must say that I have a new respect for those hopelessly stupid creatures.

Out here in that field I had a transcendent moment, a brief flickering instant of unanimity with the cows. I know how they feel having to bury thei9r mugs in a field all day.

We picked until mid afternoon, by which time the "secret field" was flooded, not just with water, but people. There must have been 20 hard cores, stooped down at the mercy of the mysterious cone.

Nobody complained; the mood was of the good-natured type that invariably surrounds people with a common sense of purpose. Joyous shouts of "I found a mother lode" and "look at this batch" bounced through the field.

But after a while some of the magic mushroom harvesters stopped picking. They wandered around, stared at the sky, rolled on the wet grass floor and laughed, some of them hysterically at cloud formations.

And some of them, I think, didn't even feel the rain or notice that the sky was gray and not orange. Some of them didn't feel anything. Apparently they'd been sampling their harvest.




 
UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON DAILY
November 20, 1973


Bumper Crop: Hallucinogenic Campus Mushrooms Harvested
By Larry Sarchin

University police reported a bumper crop of hallucinogenic mushrooms were harvested around Kincaid Hall on the morning of November 1.

The person who picked the mushrooms was not apprehended by the police, but staff people in Kincaid Hall who reported the harvest said a man left with several cartons full of the small (1 1/4 inch) mushrooms.

Robert Tomita, of Physical Plant, said, "It looked like a herd of elephants had run through the place."

The mushrooms had not been reported in any other areas, and Tomita thought the reason they had turned up in such large numbers was that spores of the mushroom were present in the topsoil brought in when the area was landscaped.

The mushrooms which have the hallucinogenic effect are of the family Psilocybe. They have a head about the size of a quarter, are dark brown in color and have a stem the size of a matchstick. The gills have a-bluish-tinge on the edges, and a small ring on the stem which is also edged with blue. They have been found on campus before, especially on the former lawn area which is now Red Square.

However, the chances of finding a Psilocybe around Kincaid are steadily decreasing. Sgt. Joel Shea of the University police said that patrol cars would be watching for anyone beating through the bushes near Kincaid Hall. "No one will be arrested," said Shea, "but any mushrooms found will be confiscated."

The Grounds and Maintenance Department will have a man stationed at Kincaid to rake the area over thoroughly every day, according to Loren Hinctley, grounds foreman, and any mushrooms found will be disposed of "if we are not beaten to them." Hinctley said the area might be fertilized and the ground worked over if the mushrooms persist, but no chemicals would be used.

Instead of a mind trip, the eager consumer of Psilocybe may get a quick trip to the hospital if he is not careful to observe the almost microscopic differences between the Psilocybe mushroom found locally and two other deadly varieties of mushrooms which are nearly identical. This may be part of the reason that Physical and Plant and the police are hot on the trail of Psilocybe, but the University Police have said the Psilocybe mushroom is poisonous. It is not, but if a mushroom hunter mistakes either Galerina autumnalis or Inocybe for Psilocybe he is in for severe poisoning or even death.

"We had a guy come in here about the time the first mushrooms were found with two cartons full of Galerina's. He thought they were Psilocybe and he was going to eat them, but he thought he should check with us first," said a graduate student in mycology. "We get people coming in all the time with mushrooms for us to look at, but this guy was lucky."

The two mushrooms which are similar to Psilocybe and grow in the same areas contain high concentrations of Amanitin toxin which is also found in the deadly Amanita mushroom. Prof. Donald [sic!] [Daniel] Stuntz of mycology said that four of the Galerina's would be enough to send an average sizes person to the hospital for a long visit.

Stuntz said that the best way to determine if you have a real Psilocybe is to check for the blue tinge around the gills. Also, said Stuntz, "the bluer they are, the higher the concentration of the hallucinogenic chemicals. They seem to be more potent if grown in warm or hot climates."

The director of the Drug Abuse Information Service at University Hospital said the active ingredient of the Psilocybe is a hallucinogenic called psilocybin. It is similar in its effects to LSD except the sensations run mainly in colors.




 
SEATTLE TIMES
Tuesday, September 21, 1976. Page 1

'Magic Mushroom' -- Risky Fungus Among Us?
By John Wilson

Don Sadler, Whatcom County under-sheriff, says there isn't much of a problem there with mind-altering "magic mushrooms," but Dave McEachran, county prosecutor, says there is.

Frederick Rody Jr., now acting director of the federal Drug Enforcement Agency and former regional director in Seattle, says hallucinogenic mushrooms don't grow here. He says "magic mushrooms" are only common mushrooms lace with LSD.

Well, perhaps as a surprise to numerous adults, including Rody, psychedelic mushrooms do grow abundantly in the Pacific Northwest.

Ask the farmers, whose fences are knocked down by hundreds of young people flocking to pastures where magic mushrooms grow.

There is an inherent danger in harvesting them because they are easily confused with poisonous species, some of which are deadly.

A number of books have been published recently which tell how to identify magic mushrooms. Some of the books have incredible advice.

One is "Magic Mushrooms of the Pacific Northwest by Mushroom John," a 24-page booklet printed in Seattle and sold for $2.50. Mushroom John tells readers how to identify a magic mushroom with cinnamon-colored gills, then adds; "There is a cinnamon-colored mushroom in the field which I have not identified as yet and this mushroom can make you very sick, so do not pick it."

McEachran aid many farmers have complained about vandalism by mushroom seekers in their fields. He said there is trafficking in the mushrooms, which are illegal to possess because of the substances they contain.

McEachran knows first-hand of the interest in the mushrooms, which cause a drug trip similar to that, of LSD. He lives outside Bellingham near a field which is a favorite collecting place.

Whatcom County is considered by many to be the best area to collect the mushrooms, although they grow profusely in many areas of Western Washington.

Tom Robbins, LaConnor author who first used magic mushrooms in the 1960s says collecting "is growing by leaps and bounds," in the Skagit Valley.

Robbins says it wasn't widely known until fairly recently that the mushrooms grew here.

Farmers are putting up no-trespassing signs in fields which have been heavily picked in the past, Robbins reports, "the Skagit Valley is being over-run," he says.




 

Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Thursday September 30, 1976. Pages 1, 12.

MUSHROOMIN' FIX ON A SUBURBAN LAWN
By S. L. Sanger (P-I Eastside Bureau

Redmond - Mrs. X has a little problem with magic mushrooms growing in her yard.

"What's growing in my front yard is not funny. They are loaded with acid," said the 35-year old Redmond mother, who definitely did not want her name or address published.

For two years, people of all ages and descriptions have been coming to her yard to pick and eat the mushrooms, and she doesn't like it. She considers them trespassers.

And she is worried that someone will overdose, or encourage little neighborhood kids to eat them.

No proof has been given that the mushrooms are hallucinogenic, "but the kids sure must think they are," Mrs. X said.

"Kids have been coming to my door stoned. I began to think there must be more to this than meets the eye. I checked around and found out they were eating them to get high," she said.

The mushrooms, short and buttoned-sized, are not easy to see in the short-cropped grass of the manicured lawn. But that has not stopped the mushroom fanciers.

Mrs. X said the mushroom eaters arrive in Cadillac's and sometimes Mercedes Benzes. Some of them are well dressed, some not so well-dress.

"Kids tried to tell me they were picking the mushrooms for a biology class. Them I realized school hadn't even started.

"Every morning I go out and pick the mushrooms, but two hours later we have a new crop. I am a very busy person. I don't have the time to pick mushrooms all day," she said.

Mrs. X said the problem has now spread to other parts of her neighborhood, and the next door neighbors have mushrooms even more potent than hers.

"I tell people to stop picking, but it is the same old garbage. All the time I am telling them to stop, they are picking like mad."

"We can't have a guard dog because we would be liable if it bit someone. We can't poison the mushrooms for the same reason, and we can't have a fence because there is a zoning restriction against Fences."

It is too expensive to plow up the yard, and her kids have to play someplace, she said. Mrs. X said the best thing would be a hard freeze, but that probably won't happen until late October

Gerald Yaeger, a Redmond police detective, said some of Mrs. X's mushrooms are at a state laboratory for determination if they are hallucinogenic.

"Sometimes I think kids eat a few mushrooms and drink a fifth of Vodka, then tell other kids what a great high they got from mushrooms," Yaeger said.

The detective said his department has run 20 pounds of mushrooms through the state laboratory and so far has not found any that were hallucinogenic.

A person in possession of hallucinogenic mushrooms could be prosecutes under the controlled substance law, the detective said.

Greg Wright, 26, who operates Eastside mushroom hunts and who describes himself as an expert mushroom eater, said he ate some of Mrs. X's mushrooms.

"My mind focused on one thing at a time, very vivid sensations of sight and sound and thinking it was mostly a pleasant experience, unless I started thinking about something unpleasant," he said.

Dr. Daniel Stuntz, University of Washington biology professor and scientific adviser to the Puget Sound Mycological (mushroom study) Society, had this to say: "If you don't know what you are eating, don't eat it."




 
THE SEATTLE TIMES

Tuesday, October 12, 1976. Page A3. 2 photos.

Magic Mushrooms

These Bellevue youths were among the many persons who have found -- or think they have -- a field of "magic mushrooms' in the Snoqualmie Valley. The boys were picking the mushrooms, believed to be hallucinogenic, and placing them in plastic bags. Left, one of them held some of the mushrooms, which have been reported growing thickly this year in Skagit and Whatcom counties. AN observer said about 2o cars were parked in this area of the Snoqualmie Valley Sunday, their occupants seeking the mushrooms in a pasture.. Staff photographs by Dale Blindheim.



 
The Sunday Olympian -Section Totem Tidings
Sunday, November 14, 1976:8-9 (three photos)


The Magic is 'Mushrooming' These Days At Tumwater.
By Dave Kendrick


If you drive past Tumwater High School some sunny autumn afternoon you might see young athletes jogging around the soccer field, football players bashing helmuts-covered heads and people harvesting a crop.

The athletes and football players will be involved in official school-sanctioned activity, but the harvesters will be crawling through the grass, picking little plants that school officials wish were not there.

The crop is called the "magic mushroom."

The lawn draws persons from throughout the county, because, according to many persons, Tumwater's soccer lawn is the best mushroom field around. After about 15 minutes searching through the newly-planted grass, a harvester can collect enough brown mushrooms to send him on a six-hour psychedelic trip.

The mushroom is a member of the Psilocybe family and contains an hallucinogenic ingredient commonly known as psilocybin, according to Mike Beug, a chemistry professsor at the Evergreen State College.

Harvesters on the lawn said the effect of the mushrooms, it takes about 50 to 60 to cause one, is a high similar to that caused by mescaline.

"I've done it before," said a 17-year-old girl who made the trip from North Thurston High School to fill a plastic baggie or two with the little morsels. She said she went to the Tumwater lawn because it had more mushrooms than anywhere around.

"They get you high," her 16-year-old friend said as she bore her nose close to the ground top spot the tiny, brown buttons.

"I can't take them," said an 18-year-old pregnant girl who accompanied the other girls. "I'm pregnant, so I just come out here and pick them with my friends."

The high caused by the mushrooms, the girls said, differs from person to person. Its effects and length differs depending upon a person's physical make-up and the quantity of mushrooms eaten.

The mushrooms are small. A 'large one' would have a crown about the diameter of a dime. They are slimy and brown. Almost impalatable, users put them in soup, rice or pizzas to make them go down the gullet a bit easier, according to harvesters.

A few feet from the girls stood a young man about two years out of high school. He had just stopped picking a bag full of mushrooms and was taking a cigarette break before diving into the lawn for another bagful. He said the high caused by the mushrooms is a bit different from a marijuana high. "You get colors and hallucinations," he said.

The best time to pick the mushrooms is just after a rain in the spring or autumn, he said. They have been right for the growing for the past 40 or 50 days, according to the Tumwater field hands. But the field of mushrooms will die when the area is hit with its first hard frost.

The mushrooms, the pickers said, are popular for various reasons. For one, they provide a free high. Spending a few minutes picking ones own drugs is better than relying on one of the many dealers in town, they said. Bit probably the most important reason the mushrooms are going over so well is because there is nothing police can do to stop them from being picked.

Beug said Psilocybe possession is illegal, but that law is not enforced in this instant.

One reason is the psilocybin content is so minute in the Tumwater mushrooms that detecting it would be extremely difficult. Apparently the Psilocybe content diminishes as the mushroom dries out. There also are no qualified persons in the area capable of detecting Psilocybe, Beug said.

Another reason the mushrooms are popular is they are organic and not as harsh as chemical psilocybin, a harvester said. But all is not well with the mushrooms. Problems with their harvest exists.

A major problem is that poison has been sprayed on them/ Tumwater High School Principal Gordon Prehm said poison and fertilizer recently applied to the lawn could cause ill-effects. Students have been warned about taking the mushrooms because of that.

Country and State health officials have been called in to the school to tell the students what the chemicals will do to them.

According to one mushroom diner, the fertilizer was the ingredient that brought the mushrooms. He said the spores were carried in pig fertilizer spread to nourish the new lawn. School officials said they have no knowledge of such information.

School officials have been plagues by the pickers. Sometimes the harvesters begin crowding onto the lawn before school is out, interfering with athletic programs and classes.

When that occurs, Tumwater police are called to move the trespassers off the lawn. When school is out, however, the pickers are free to pluck the mushrooms from the lawn. On weekends, Prehm said, the lawn is covered with mushroom freaks.

A few days ago two young men were arrested and booked into Olympia City Jail by Tumwater policemen for trespassing. Apparently the men were taking mushrooms at about 3 a.m.

"we're really frustrated by the problem," Prehm said. "When people get off work, between 4 and 6 p.m., people flock to the field. Often we get 60 people out there. We've seen adults bring their kids out to pick mushrooms. Sometimes the problem is really disgusting."

There have been rumors of persons getting sick from the magic mushrooms, but Prehm said there was no confirmation of it. One reason illness might ensue from a meal of mushrooms is the ingestion of the wrong king of mushroom. Beug said poisonous mushrooms have been seen in the Tumwater soccer field, and one must be careful not to pick the wrong kind. A check with St. Peter Hospital has revealed there have been no emergency room cases or admissions because of recent consumption of the mushroom.

School officials have been trying to rid themselves of the crop through varioius means, but nothing works. The pickers keep picking. Some claim the more mushrooms picked, the more will grow because spores are dropped whenever the little plants are touched.

There is only one thing that will solve the school's problem and burst the dreamy bubble the mushroom freaks have enjoyed in the last month--frost. But when the spring comes both the problem and the dream again will sprout and grow with the magic mushrooms.



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