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Europe: Dutch Ban on Magic Mushrooms Moves Closer

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #534)
Drug War Issues
Politics & Advocacy

The conservative Dutch cabinet last Friday formally proposed a ban on the sale of psychedelic mushrooms. The proposal now goes before the Dutch parliament, where it is expected to pass.

psilocybe cubensis (courtesy
Currently, dried mushrooms are illegal in the Netherlands, but fresh ones can be bought legally in "Smart Shops," stores that sell cognition-enhancing products, but also magic mushrooms, salvia divinorum, and other legal but mind-altering substances.

A campaign to ban psychedelic mushrooms gathered steam after a particularly photogenic French girl died jumping off a bridge after eating them last year. A number of other incidents, most involving young visitors, have also been publicized. Amsterdam emergency services reported 128 mushroom-related incidents in 2006, more than double the 55 calls they got two years earlier. Most of them involved young British tourists.

The Dutch health ministry cited such cases in a statement laying out the rationale for a ban. "The use of mushrooms can produce hallucinogenic effects which can lead to extreme or life-threatening behavior," it said, according to a Reuters report.

Industry efforts to blunt the ban by self-policing were of no avail. In February, the Dutch Association of Smart Shops (VLOS) said the industry would self-regulate and protested that the increase in reported incidents was smaller than the increase in mushroom sales.

The conservative Dutch government has been trying to find ways to reverse the country's 30-year experiment in pragmatism with the cannabis coffee shops. Now, it is on the verge of criminalizing psilocybe cubensis. A VLOS spokesman told Reuters the coffee shops better watch out. "If they succeed with this mushroom ban then I am sure they will try to ban things like cannabis as well. This is part of a wider trend," said Freddy Schaap.

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)

Its too bad that a few publicized incidents are what is making this happen. They will still be available,..although illegaly now. They should know,and understand this. Prohibition is not the amswer,And I thought that amsterdam of all places understood this.

Guess thats not the case,..I would hate to see the coffee-shops go though before I get a chance to visit! :p

Fri, 05/02/2008 - 10:16pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

I don't understand why the Dutch government is banning a substance due to tourists using it improperly. Why clamp down on the rights of your citizens because of another nation's citizens? It just doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me. Personally I think the fact that it is mainly tourists, not Dutch citizens causing these incidents says a lot. Since the mushrooms are legal in the Netherlands, the citizens know how they affect a person, and how to act intelligently while on them. In other European countries, mushrooms are illegal, so the citizens never receive the education they need. Education that would prevent them from dieing.

Michael Blunk, President
Students for Sensible Drug Policy
University of Houston
[email protected]

Sat, 05/03/2008 - 12:07pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

It still boils down to the fact that the long arm of the American criminal government is out creating trouble in other countries, like Canada & Marc Emery , or trying to persuade Dutch politicians why they should restrict the liberties of their own countrymen. We should NOT tortue, but we should waterboard the entire administration and then turn them over to the Iraqi's.


Sat, 05/03/2008 - 8:48pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

Just because people shoot themselves in the foot we don't ban guns do we?

Sun, 05/04/2008 - 6:54am Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

My experiences with smartshop mushrooms in Amsterdam indicated to me that the fungi they sell is relatively weak compared to some of the psilocybe growing in the States.  But then, everyone’s body and brain chemistry is different.

The “128-mushroom-related incidents” in 2006 lack details.  If an “incident” merely means some Brits ate shrooms and jumped into one of the canals, I bet they don’t do it again.  People piss in those canals.

I’ve seen young, male, testosterone-crazed British tourists create more than their share of problems everywhere they go. Many probably combine their shroom experience with alcohol.  In fact, the Reuters article goes on to say that the VLOS is arguing that the shroom incidents may also have involved alcohol consumption.  If so, they’re right.  Alcohol mixed with a psychedelic is often a fighting combination.

What is needed to make the shroom experience safer are more effective consumer warnings about the combined effects of the different drugs—a harm reduction approach.  To employ an analogy, as a society we don’t prohibit automobiles because people get impaled on the steering wheel in an accident; we engineer collapsible steering columns and airbags into the car instead.

As for the pretty French girl who took mushrooms and jumped off a bridge, perhaps the whole drama was pre-planned by her as a way to make an exit that obscured her suicidal intent to her family and friends (suicide is a sin in some religions).  We can no longer know for certain, because she's the only one who knows and she’s dead.  Given the tendency for prohibitionists to say anything while omitting critical details of their purported evidence, it’s virtually impossible for anyone to determine if prohibitionist information is solid unless they assiduously check the total evidence for themselves.


Sun, 05/04/2008 - 4:46pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

If mushrooms and other substances do what people have long thought they do, which is open a sort of pathway to alternate states of consciousness, then the governments of the world are going to do what they can to stop the use of them. Everyone who knows of their ancient uses and the upcoming shift in the galactic calendar know what I'm talking about. If you don't, I think its time to start digging and finding out for yourselves.

Wed, 05/07/2008 - 11:51am Permalink

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