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Europe: Dutch May Join Trend and Ban Magic Mushrooms

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #497)
Politics & Advocacy

Since the turn of the century, psychedelic (or magic) mushrooms have been declared illegal by authorities in Britain, Denmark, Ireland, and Japan. Now, amidst a media blitz over a handful of incidents involving people high on 'shrooms, the conservative Dutch government is considering doing the same.

psilocybe cubensis (courtesy
While the United Nations 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances banned psilocybin, the main psychoactive ingredient in magic mushrooms, the mushrooms themselves, especially when fresh, have inhabited a murkier legal status. In the United States, magic mushrooms are illegal under federal law, but not the spores from which they can be generated.

In Holland, where marijuana is retailed at state-sanctioned coffee houses, magic mushrooms are also available at so-called smart shops. Under Dutch practice, the smart shops can sell the mushrooms as long as they are fresh. They also sell various "smart drugs" and herbs, as well as other exotic psychedelics, such as salvia divinorum or San Pedro cactus.

But ever since Gaelle Caroff, a photogenic French teenager, died after jumping from a building under the influence of magic mushrooms in March, sectors of the Dutch press and conservative politicians and Caroff's parents have agitated for their sale and use to be banned. Although Caroff had suffered previous psychiatric problems, her parents blamed the mushrooms.

Dutch newspapers repeatedly published photos of the 17-year-old Caroff and they began highlighting other incidents involving people high on mushrooms, usually young tourists: a Brit, 22, who ran amok in a hotel, breaking a window and cutting his hand; an Icelander, 19, who, thinking he was being chased, leapt from a hotel balcony, breaking both legs; a Dane, 29, who drove crazily through a campground.

Amsterdam health services reported in January that emergency services were summoned to deal with bad mushroom trips 148 times over a three-year period from 2004 to 2006, or about once a week. Of the 148 incidents, 134 involved foreigners. Other Dutch government numbers suggest that tourists are gobbling up most of the mushrooms sold in smartshops.

In response to the rising clamor in the press, Health Minister Ab Klink ordered the national health institute to reassess the risks of magic mushrooms. Klink has said that, depending on what the institute concludes, he will recommend either that magic mushrooms sales be banned outright or limited to those over 18.

Either proposed move appears to have broad support in parliament. A majority of center and rightist parties has demanded the fungi be banned. That would be in line with the broad contours of a Dutch government that is increasingly conservative on issues ranging from Muslim immigrants to misbehavior in Amsterdam's notorious Red Light District to a mostly frustrated inclination to try to reverse the country's liberal marijuana policy.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


Anonymous (not verified)

My uncle choked to death on black tea.Ban for that evil drug!!! Let's ban all plants altogether.Then go on and ban some animals also.Ban the mosquitoes, this lousy little creatures.Everyone who has a mosquito at his home should be burned at the stake.

Fri, 08/10/2007 - 5:35pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

i must say, you're right and why bother if someone dies, not to sound careless, but hey no one lives forever you know and why should everyone else get punished for something that wasn't our fault [especially in the usa where it's seriously illegal to have someone commit suicide] but theirs for not following directions or even knowing what was to happen.

Tue, 10/30/2007 - 8:19pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

I'm Danish, just for the record.

When psilocybin is present in a few unfortunate incident it's taken as proof that "something needs to be done", and from these few anecdotes politicians are falling over themselves to be the first to address the "problem". With Prohibition of course.

Here's some figures I found on alkohol ( Highligts:

- in the status report "Traffic Accidents" ("Færdselsuheld") i 1999 from "Danmarks Statistik" shows that 98% of the killed and injured pedestrians i alcohol-accidents were themselves under the influence of alcohol.

- In 1999 23% of all killed pedestrians has a blood alcohol content above 0,5 (pro mille)

Of course, such numbers do nothing to the public or the ravenous media that's looking for a good drug related article. No one screams for changes to law here.

Finally I wanted to comment on some of the Dutch experience. Of course they'll have incidents with people doing weird stuff on mushrooms. Tourists come to their wonderful country, and like all people coming from prohibition-struck countries they haven't a clue as to how to properly use mushrooms. So they ingest the shrooms and figure they'll just "see stuff" but otherwise just be "drunk". With such preparation, with such Set and Setting it is a miracle that so few actually get into trouble.

Sat, 08/11/2007 - 10:57am Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

totally agree w/last comment. How and how much to use is critical--take a naive tourist who wants to really trip, and thru ignorance they're gonna reason more is better--right. So you get this crap. The death of innocent tourists is the strongest weapon in the prohibition arsenal, right behind so-called crack babies and committing ax-murders after overdosing smokin weed.

Sat, 08/11/2007 - 2:25pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

did any one thik this guy could have jumped out a windo so his schizophrenia wouldnt come back to that building. I have schichophrenia its satanism that is why in the movie rosmarys babay she jumped out a window in the army they said they are puylling out of amsterdam in 2019 army posses people and makes them gay stick stuff up their ass they call it the shit list tehy make peopel do all kinds of auwlful stuff they are even causing winth jewish magic wich is controlled by geomontry ( the holy ghost and necromancy ) manipulated by numbers peopel to be dependant on drugs they are causing mental illiness like bipolar major depression hell they do all kinds of stuff

Thu, 08/23/2007 - 9:57am Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

hi all, i am sure it is coca - cola what makes all tourists in netherlands do all those crazy things. If you study the quantity of coke they all have consumed in their life, i am sure you'll be surprised to discover that ¡they all consumed a lot of coke! So let's just be serious and don't blame a few grams of our little friends, the mushrooms

Wed, 09/19/2007 - 1:36pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

I would venture a guess that any plant or fungus that raises consciousness will be illegal, for whatever reason, in every country and land by the year 2009. So I propose living on an uninhabited island where you can be finally left the ____ alone. Not fined, not imprisoned, not forced to go to rehab and counseling, not forced to pee in a cup weekly, not forced to believe how great your government and social leaders are while the world hurdles towards environmental and finacial ruin, so who want's to join me in this new island community? This great island where mushrooms, peyote, iboga, marijuana, and salvia divorium can grow freely and your free to explore the wonders of consciousness and being.

Sat, 12/15/2007 - 12:42pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

im young n ive had my taste of drugs n i liked it.. ive read everything my parents n teachers put in front of me but i still do it.. magic mushie r wild as worth the risk i recon.. but hey im just a teenager what i say dnt mean much!!

Wed, 03/05/2008 - 9:34pm Permalink

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