Furore over ban on magic mushrooms in UK

The Guardian

London, April 16:

British peers, MPs and drug advocacy groups have rounded on a new law reclassifying magic mushrooms as a ‘class A’ drug, like heroin, saying the legislation was rushed through parliament in last week’s ‘wash-up’ preparation for the general ele-ction without adequate debate and will criminalise a group of people who were doing no harm to themselves or others. Home Office sources have indicated that clause 21 of the new drug bill could come into effect in time for the Glastonbury festival in June. Magic mushroom retailers have vowed to challenge the ban, saying the statute contravenes European free trade regulations and is deeply flawed. They also point out that the bill would create a grey area for other naturally occurring hallucinogens, many of which are traded on the internet and just as hallucinogenic as the banned cubensis mushrooms. Mescaline, for instance, like psilocin and pscilocybin, the active constituents of cubensis mushrooms, is identified as a class A drug under the 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act. But the drug bill says nothing about the peyote cactus from which it is derived.

The bill also makes no reference to the fly agaric toadstool, a highly poisonous red and white spotted fungus which the Home Office warns about on its drug education website, Talk to Frank, and which grows wild in British forests. It also makes no mention of Salvia divinorum, a hallucinogenic plant from Mexico which Potseeds, a Totnes-based internet retailer, advertises as ‘the legal high our politicians forgot to ban.’ But opponents of clause 21 say the main objection is that it would be unenforceable and would drive the trade in cubensis mushrooms — which, because of a loophole in the 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act, are considered legal — underground. “By no stretch of the imagination can you equate magic mushrooms with heroin or cocaine,” said Lord Mancroft, a member of the all-party group on the misuse of drugs.