Magic mushrooms class

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On July 18th, section 21 of the Drugs Act came into force: as a result, magic mushrooms are now classified as a Class A drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act Following a brief look at magic mushrooms and their effects, this paper charts their usage throughout history, from Saharan tribes in ancient times, through the psychedelic revolution of the s, to the boom in recently halted internet sales of them in the United Kingdom.

This serves as background to detailed consideration of magic mushrooms' recent change in legal status in this country, from non-controlled fungi to Class A drug. The desirability or otherwise of this development is analysed, situated within a comparative and international context, with reference to potential unwanted side-effects. Walsh, C. There are more than species of mushroom that contain psilocybin and psilocin, several of which grow wild in the UK; most notably, the Liberty Cap.

When ingested, normally through either being eaten fresh, cooked, or brewed into a tea, such mushrooms can have psychedelic - 'mind manifesting' - effects, hence they are known as 'magic mushrooms'. As is usual with psychoactive substances, the exact effects will vary, being strongly dependent upon both set and setting, but they are likely to follow the following pattern:. In the beginning stages of onset, mushrooms are likely to cause a sort of undefineable feeling, similar to anticipation or anxiety.

There may be a feeling of energy in the body, and the sense that things are different than usual. As the effects intensify, a wide variety of perceptual changes may occur; pupil dilation, visuals, mental stimulation, new perspectives, feelings of insight, quickly changing emotions lots of laughterpossible paranoia and confusion.

Magic mushrooms have been used by numerous different cultures throughout the ages. The most ancient example of a culture where magic mushrooms seemed to hold ificance comes from rock paintings of mushroom effigies found in the Sahara that date back to BC. Indeed, it was the midth century discovery of ritualised usage of magic mushrooms in Mexico by two amateur Western mycologists, R. Gordon Wasson - a vice president of J. Morgan - and his wife, detailed in numerous subsequent publications for example, Wasson RG,which was to Magic mushrooms class to the spread of their usage to the United States and other parts of the Western world.

This has been largely attributed to the fact that, in Maythe hugely influential Life magazine ran a spread, written by Wasson, detailing - with great enthusiasm Magic mushrooms class his experiences of taking magic mushrooms: 'For the first time the word ecstasy took on real meaning. For the first time it did not mean someone else's state of mind' Wasson RG, As a result of this journalistic piece, a mass audience learned about the existence and effects of magic mushrooms: amongst them was a young Harvard professor named Timothy Leary see further, Lee M and Shlain B,pp.

By Leary was working on a project entitled, 'A Study of Clinical Reactions to Psilocybin Administered in Supportive Environments': this involved Leary handing out doses of psilocybin to a broad range of people, including writers and philosophers such as Aldous Huxley, alongside prison inmates and students.

The overwhelming response was positive, with most people reporting that the experience had given them some kind of insight, generally considering it to have been life-changing.

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Leary, believing that in magic mushrooms - and, later, LSD - he had found the cure to society's ills, went on to become one of the most influential people in the psychedelic movement see further, Miles B, The use of magic mushrooms spread. Whilst some used them purely recreationally, for others, such as Huxley, they had a far greater, philosophical ificance:. Like the culture by which it is conditioned, normal waking consciousness is at once our best friend and a most dangerous enemy To become fully human, man must learn to get out of his own way The universe in which a human being lives can be transfigured Magic mushrooms class a new creation.

We have only to cut a hole in the fence and look around us with what the philosopher, Plotinus, describes as 'that other kind of seeing, which everyone has but few make use of' Through these new psychedelics, the subject's normal waking consciousness may be modified in many different ways At the extreme is achieving mystical consciousness.

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The world is now seen as an infinite diversity that is yet a unity, and the beholder experiences himself as being at one with the infinite Oneness Huxley A, In their book, Psychedelic Drugs ReconsideredGrinspoon and Bakalar assert that the modern history of magic mushrooms is bound up with the hippie movement, and, thus, when the importance of that movement subsided, so did the cultural ificance of magic mushrooms: 'as the hippie movement became assimilated, losing its distinctiveness but leaving many residues in our culture, psychedelic drugs moved to the periphery of public consciousness, but they continue to exert a similar subtle influence' Grinspoon L and Bakalar JB, They contend that, whilst current levels of experimentation with psychedelic drugs do not actually differ markedly from those in the s, fewer people now see them as providing an ethos for a way of life: 'the novelty is gone, their limitations and dangers Magic mushrooms class better understood and their virtues easier to put into perspective'.

They posit that this change is epitomised by the difference in tone of the journal, the Psychedelic Reviewedited by Leary between andand its current equivalent, High Times : 'Despite some half-hearted counterculture rhetoric, its casual tone is very different from the rage and exaltation of the drug-culture press of the s, and its readers no more constitute a subculture than do readers of Gourmet or whiskey drinkers'.

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However, this is not to deny the existence of modern 'psychonauts', those who use magic mushrooms as an entheogenic tool with which to explore the inner realms of their minds. In Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderlandfirst published inAlice has an encounter with a caterpillar, who is smoking a hookah whilst sat on a mushroom:. In a minute or two the Caterpillar took the hookah out of its mouth and yawned once or Magic mushrooms class, and shook itself.

Then it got down off the mushroom, and crawled away in the grass, merely remarking as it went, 'One side will make you grow taller, and the other side will make you grow shorter'. The other side of what? The story continues in this surreal vein: Alice's nibbling on the mushroom le to her growing to giant proportions, with the result that she is mistaken for an egg-stealing serpent by a pigeon. Carroll's depiction of the mushroom as having magical properties is by no means novel, continuing a long-standing association between mushrooms and magic in traditional British fairy-tales and folklore: 'Flying witches, powerful fairy rings and elves' predilection for sitting on red and white totools have all been ascribed to experiences with magic mushrooms' Jeavans C, The first explicit documented use of magic mushrooms was in a Medical and Physical Journal of a Magic mushrooms class out gathering mushrooms for breakfast in London's Green Park accidentally picked some magic mushrooms, and subsequently fed them to his family.

Yet, it is only in the past few decades, following the psychedelic influences of the s and s, that the trend of using magic mushrooms has developed in Britain. This recent history initially involved small s of people picking and eating magic mushrooms in the Autumn months when they spring up in fields and woodlands.

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However, in the past few years, numerous lucrative commercial businesses were established, based around the selling and distribution of magic mushrooms. These included stalls both on markets and at festivalsshops, and Internet websites that provided home delivery; by the Government estimated that more than establishments in the United Kingdom were involved in selling these drugs House of Commons Standing Committee F,col.

The majority of their stock was imported, largely from Holland, with HM Revenue and Customs estimating the imports for to be between 8 - 16, kilograms House of Commons, Hansard Written Statement for Magic mushrooms class Junecol. The legal position of those who sell magic mushrooms is governed by the Misuse of Drugs Act and was, until recently, unclear. In order to avoid being seen to be promoting their use as psychedelic drugs, sellers often displayed s stating that their wares were being sold purely for 'ornamental' or 'research' purposes Honigsbaum M, Similarly, websites carried provisos such as the following: 'Mushrooms are sold only as specimen samples for botanical studies only.

The situation was further complicated by the conflicting interpretations of the law that emanated from Government. Many of those who sold magic mushrooms used Magic mushrooms class display in their windows a photocopy of a letter, written by Home Office official Ian Breadmore inthat clearly stated: 'It is not illegal to sell or give away a freshly picked mushroom provided that it has not been prepared in any way'. However, in the Home Office wrote to mushroom importers saying that magic mushrooms might fall within the ambit of the Misuse of Drugs Act if they had been 'cultivated, transported to the marketplace, packaged, weighed and labelled' as quoted in House of Commons,p.

The legality of this trade was further obfuscated by Customs and Excise ruling in the same year that a The collapse of this case led to a clause being inserted into the Drugs Bill that aimed to amend the Misuse of Drugs Act This paper now offers a detailed consideration of this grey area of the law as it stood under the original Misuse of Drugs Act provisions, including a critical analysis of the cases that were central to that Act's interpretation; this is followed by a discussion of the relevant amendment contained within the Drugs Act and its potential impact.

The Misuse of Drugs Acts. Paragraph 3 of part I of the second schedule to the Act extends the application of the Act to: 'any ester or ether of a substance for the time being specified in paragraph 1 or 2 above'.

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Psilocybin, the pscyhedelic constituent found in magic mushrooms, is an ester of psilocin and thus qualifies as a Class A drug under the Act. Section 5 1 of the Misuse of Drugs Act provides that 'it shall not be lawful for a person to have a controlled drug in his possession'; section 5 2 states that 'it is an offence for a person to have a controlled drug in his possession in contravention of subsection 1 '. However, the issue of the legality of magic mushrooms used to be even more complicated than it at first appeared: in order to be considered to have psilocybin in one's possession, more was required than simply to be in possession of magic mushrooms.

At the time the case was decided cannabis was classified as a Class Magic mushrooms class drug under the Act; however, the more potent derivative, cannabinol, contained within cannabis, was classified as a Class A drug. Mr Goodchild, having been found to be in possession of cannabis, was indicted not only for possession of a Class B drug, but also for possession of a Class A drug, given that the cannabis that he was found with contained cannabinol within it.

In quashing the appellant's conviction for the higher offence, Lord Diplock noted that:.

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It would not in my view be a natural use of language to say, for instance, that a person was in possession of morphine when what he really had was opium poppy-straw from which whatever morphine content there might be in it had not yet been separated.

There was a clear analogy here with magic mushrooms, and, indeed, Lord Diplock used them as an example: 'psilocin and psilocybin are to be found in a totool sometimes called the Mexican magic mushroom'. As a result of this decision, it was clear for a long time that the offence of unlawful possession of the Class A drug psilocybin was not established by mere proof of possession of magic mushrooms.

To secure a conviction, the prosecution needed to prove Magic mushrooms class the activity fell within the scope of Schedule II, Part I, paragraph 5 of the Misuse of Drugs Act ' any preparation or other product containing a substance or product for the time being specified in any of the paragraphs 1 to 4 above' emphasis added. The majority of cases involving magic mushrooms focused on interpretation of the meaning of the word 'preparation' in paragraph 5, with the leading authority in interpreting this being R v Stevens 15 Aprilunreported. Stevens was caught by the police with a bag of dried, powdered magic mushrooms.

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The Court of Appeal addressed the question of whether or not the powdered substance found in the appellant's possession could be described as a 'preparation'. In reference to the word 'preparation' in the Act, Drake J said the following:. What was needed in order that these mushrooms should be prepared is that they ceased to be in their natural growing state and had in some way been altered by the hand of man to make them into a condition in which they could be used.

It is submitted that the court were here answering the wrong question, and, as a result, misinterpreted paragraph 5. Paragraph 5 refers to 'any preparation': the word 'preparation' is clearly being used as a noun, relating to the substance in question, as opposed to as a verb, describing the activities of the individual concerned. The Court of Appeal case of Cunliffe [] Crim LR illustrated that, applying Stevenseven the most minimal human intervention could be viewed as bringing the activity within the ambit of paragraph 5.

In this instance, the police found a wooden casket containing some dried mushrooms in the appellant's bedroom. Cunliffe told the police that he had placed the mushrooms in a paper bag to dry out naturally; unlike in Stevensthe mushrooms had not been powdered. Cunliffe was convicted after the jury were given the following summing-up:. It is only if you can say to yourselves, 'We feel sure that what this man did was to arrange for the mushrooms to be dried out in his house to be available for use for drug taking'; only if you are satisfied that he did that act of preparation rather than it being just a Magic mushrooms class ordinary occurrence on its own, only then can you find this man guilty.

In line with Stevensthe word preparation was mis? The conviction was upheld. Hodder was brought to trial following the discovery of forty-four labelled bags, each containing one hundred magic mushrooms, in his freezer compartment. Whilst Hodder and his co-appellant knew that it was illegal to prepare the mushrooms for use as psychedelics, they thought that this meant that it was wrong to boil or dry them.

Their lawyers argued that the bagging and labelling of the mushrooms did not constitute an act of preparation, as preparation must refer to the mushrooms and not mere packaging: further, they argued that preservation of the mushrooms by freezing was not akin to preparation. It was submitted that a distinction needed to be drawn between 'preparatory acts' and the question of whether what was in their clients' possession was 'a preparation', and that their Magic mushrooms class activities did not fall within Schedule II Part I paragraph 5 of the Act.

Roch J summarised the arguments of Hodder's lawyer, Mr Bromilow, in the following manner:. For example, mere picking, submitted Mr Bromilow, would not make the mushrooms a preparation, nor would putting them in packets and labelling them make them a preparation.

Magic mushrooms class

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