Europe: Magic Mushrooms Now Illegal in Great Britain 7/22/05

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For the past few years, Britons have been enjoying a loophole in Britain's drug law that allowed hallucinogenic mushrooms such as amanita muscaria and psilocbye cubensis to be imported, grown, sold, and used in the British Isles. According to one British magazine, Amsterdam of London, they have been quite popular, with one major "legal hallucinogen" outlet selling 220 pounds of magic mushrooms a week -- enough for 10,000 highs. Some drug policy activists even suggest the popularity of magic mushrooms has lessened the demand for other drugs, particularly Ecstasy.
But that has all changed, effective Monday. The British government has reclassified magic mushrooms as Class-A drugs under the Drugs Act of 2005, so what was a legal business activity last week is now punishable by up to life in prison. Even simple possession for personal use can now garner a prison sentence of up to seven years.

In scheduling the trippy fungi as Class-A drugs, the British government is saying it considers them as dangerous as cocaine or heroin. "Magic mushrooms are a powerful hallucinogen and can cause real harm, especially to vulnerable people and those with mental health problems," said Home Office minister Paul Goggins. "The law has not been clear with regard to the status of fresh magic mushrooms and some have tried to exploit this apparent loophole."

The boom in magic mushrooms in Britain began when a London shop, the Psyche Deli, successfully obtained a registration number to import them, inspiring similar shops to pop up across the country like, well, mushrooms. The Psyche Deli reflected common sentiments among the drugs' fans with a message posted on its web site this week: "The only mushrooms you'll be able to get from July 18 are frozen or dried ones from your favorite Class A drugs dealer -- and the government won't get any VAT on sales. If you're lucky you might also be offered some Grade A smack or a crack cookie to go with that."

Mushroom retailers have formed their own lobbying group, the Entheogen Defense Fund, to seek changes in the law. "We would have welcomed regulation because through regulation you get control -- as with alcohol," said the group's chairman, Mike Bashall. Noting that, unlike the British government, it does not have access to huge tax revenues, the group is seeking funds for the effort.

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Issue #396 -- 7/22/05

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Feature: Congressman Sensenbrenner Making Name as Drug War Extremist | Medical Marijuana: Steve McWilliams Remembered at Tuesday Vigils | DRCNet Interview: Cher Ford-McCullough and Jean Marlowe of the Women's Organization for National Prohibition Reform | DRCNet Book Review: "An Analytic Assessment of US Drug Policy," by David Boyum and Peter Reuter | Medical Marijuana: California Reinstates ID Card Program | Medical Marijuana: Nearly a Thousand Rally in Santa Cruz | Weekly: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories | New Zealand: In Pragmatic Retreat, Nandor Tanczos Introduces Marijuana Decriminalization Bill | Europe: Magic Mushrooms Now Illegal in Great Britain | Asia: Philippines Man Gets 15 Years for Two Joints | Coerced Treatment: Pennsylvania Legal Challenge Threatens Drug Courts, Judge Complains | Web Scan: NOW Resolution, American Chronicle, NYT Editorial on Richard Paey, NORML Report, APHA/DPA Oregon Amicus | Weekly: This Week in History | Weekly: The Reformer's Calendar


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