Will the Dutch ban "magic mushrooms"?
On a broad range of issues, the Dutch have become more conservative. The death of a 17-year-old French schoolgirl who had consumed magic mushrooms purchased at a so-called "smartshop" has impelled the Dutch government to consider a ban. Foreign visitors, young ones, have been involved in many sad incidents recently. For more, see here.
Popular history of magic mushrooms (book review)
Dick Teresi reviews in the New York Times a popular and revisionistic history of magic mushrooms by Andy Letcher, Shroom: A Cultural History of the Magic Mushroom (Ecco/HarperCollins). For the review, see here.
Drugs and cemeteries
Youths traveling to pick hallucinogenic mushrooms at a cemetery in Norway are causing concern for locals. Aftenposten reports.
Wall Street Journal on Mushrooms
Ron Winslow wrote this report, "Go Ask Alice," of a Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions study on mushrooms and their significance to users for the Wall Street Journal.
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions researchers conducted [a] study following carefully controlled, scientifically rigorous procedures. They said that the episodes generally led to positive changes in attitude and behavior among the 36 volunteer participants and that the changes appeared to last at least two months. Participants cited feelings of intense joy, "distance from ordinary reality," and feelings of peace and harmony after taking the drug. Two-thirds described the effects of the drug, called psilocybin, as among the five most meaningful experiences of their lives.
But in 30% of the cases, the drug provoked harrowing experiences dominated by fear and paranoia. Two participants likened the episodes to being in a war. While these episodes were managed by trained monitors at the sessions where the drugs were taken, researchers cautioned that in less-controlled settings, such responses could trigger panic or other reactions that might put people in danger.
A report on the study, among the first to systematically assess the effects of hallucinogenic substances in 40 years, is being published online today by the journal Psychopharmacology. An accompanying editorial and commentaries from three prominent neuroscientists and a psychiatrist praise the study and argue that further research into such agents has the potential to unlock secrets of consciousness and lead to new therapeutic strategies for depression, addiction and other ailments.
In one of the commentaries, Charles R. Schuster, a neuroscientist and former head of the National Institute for Drug Abuse, called the report a "landmark paper." He also expressed hope that it "renews interest in a fascinating and potentially useful class of psychotropic agents."
Timothy Leary and LSD (review of biography)
Louis Menand, "Acid Redux: The Life and High Times of Timothy Leary," New Yorker, 26 June 2006. Lengthy and favorable review of Robert Greenfield, Timothy Leary (Harcourt, 2006). For details, see here.
High in Ohio
Some Ohio University students and community members use drugs that they say expand their consciousness and perception of reality, though they acknowledge the potential for a "bad trip," not to mention the serious legal repercussions of getting caught with these drugs.
The Athens News reports.
Cluster headache sufferers prefer magic mushrooms
Patients who suffer from cluster headaches - a debilitating medical condition for which there is no cure - are flouting the [British] government's ban on magic mushrooms because they say the psychedelic fungi are the only thing to relieve the pain of their attacks. The Guardian reports.
Magic mushrooms ban becomes law
BBC News reports (18 July 2005) that a law banning magic mushrooms and making them a class A drug has come into force in the UK. Read more here. Police carried out one of the first magic mushroom seizures under the new law in Edinburgh and Glasgow. Find that story here.
Like the old saying, 'one man's fungus is another man's hallucinogen'
The Hexham Courant reports (6 May 2005) that mushrooms sprouting on Tynedale farms could give landowners a major headache. Certain strains of fungus are much prized by drug-users for their hallucinogenic properties. Some areas of the North Pennines and South Tynedale are well known for producing the so-called magic mushrooms – and that could land farmers in trouble with the law. Landowners with magic mushrooms growing wild on their property could be caught in a legal loophole in the new Drugs Act 2005, which was rushed through Parliament before the General Election was announced. Find the full story here.
Psychedelics in British culture
An essay by Matthew J. Atha, entitled "Acid, Mushrooms and the Festival Culture: A Brief History of Psychedelic Drugs in Britain" (1996), can be found here.