Campaign against magic mushroom prohibition


The situation:

Relevant Government documents
- The Government's Drugs Bill , Clause 21:
prohibition of fresh magic mushrooms (MMs)
- Explanatory Notes:
more brief details, cost-benefit, human rights
- Parliamentary Research Paper:
- The Government's Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA):
assesses the impact of the change in regulations on businesses and voluntary organisations. It weighs up the costs and benefits of 3 options: no change (unregulated); prohibition; licensed regulation.
- Parliamentary Joint Human Rights Committee statement:
failure of Government to follow guidelines on assessing human rights impact.

There's 4 campaign approaches:

- There's the Magic Mushroom Consumer Group: they intend to fight for equal consumer rights with other legal drug consumers (e.g. alcohol). Government accepts that magic mushrooms "are not themselves controlled drugs" in the Drugs Bill's Regulatory Impact Assessment. Government has provided no evidence that MMs cause harm to consumers or society more severe than alcohol - in fact they have produced no evidence that MMs cause any harm at all. Despite the lack of evidence the intention is to imprison those who possess, supply or produce MMs.
MMCG website:
Campaign discussion:

- There's a dutch exporter of mushrooms to the UK, Ananda De Sjamaan: he's been through all this before in his country. He has documented the Dutch government's risk assessment ("the risk for the public health is therefore estimated as very low"), UN letters saying MMs are not controlled under UN drug Conventions, and a recent scientific study suggesting little harm from MMs (see below) .

- There's PALAD's approach outlined on this website: we are getting evidence that the Home Office have not followed Government guidelines on Regulatory Impact Assessments, the use of scientific evidence, risk assessments, regulatory/policy options assessment and better regulation. We're comparing the mushroom RIA with the recent alcohol RIA, then comparing both to the Government's RIA guidance (and other guidance) to see which complies.
We sent
this letter outlining our concerns to the members of the parliamentary committee scrutinising the Drugs Bill.
The Home Office Drugs Bill Team have failed to answer questions
asked on January 6th concerning the Regulatory Impact Assessment for magic mushrooms. We requested details about the evidence for actual harm and the assessment of risks to public health, both lacking from the RIA, contrary to Government guidance. Their reply, on February 14, failed to address these questions. We sent a further letter of February 15 outlining concerns about bias in assessing the regulatory options of licensing and prohibition. The reply simply repeated past comments.
We've also
contacted the Home Office's Minister for better regulation outlining concerns that guidelines had not been followed. The reply, from the Drug Legislation and Enforcement Unit, did not address these concerns so we wrote again asking for details of individuals who assessed Clause 21. The reply simply repeated past comments.

- There's Transform's mushroom briefing: this explores ideas for regulation as an alternative to prohibition or no regulation


De Sjamaan's document quotes - Dutch Government risk assessment of mushrooms, UN letter & scientific evidence: from Includes....

The Coordination point Assessment and Monitoring of new Drugs's (CAM) risk assessment for the Dutch government: "the risk for the public health is therefore estimated as very low".

United Nations' INCB: "as a matter of law, no plants (natural material) containing psilocine and psilocybine are at present controlled under the Convention on Psychotropic Substances of 1971".

Heffter Research Center & Psychiatric University Hospital Zurich (2004): "Our study provided no cause for concern that PY is hazardous with respect to somatic health".

Transform: A recent report from the Keuringsdienst van Waren ('Inspection Agency for Goods', the Dutch equivalent of the UK Food Standards Agency) states: “In a survey of the risks which these paddo's [hallucinogenic mushrooms] cause to the public health, the Minister of Public Health installed the commission Cordination Point Assessment and Monitoring new Drugs (CAM). The CAM concluded that the risks of psilocybin mushrooms are low. Acute reactions are no more severe than having a scary experience. No chronic toxicity was found. And no signs of physical or mental addiction was found.” [ ]


Example letter to newspapers/MPs etc:

The Government's Drugs Bill reinforces the institutionalised discrimination against minorities who consume or trade non-traditional drugs. While suppliers of alcohol to young people now face an on-the-spot fine of 80, suppliers of fresh magic mushrooms to consenting adults will soon face life imprisonment.
It is a fact that ninety percent of adults regularly take stimulant and intoxicant drugs to alter mood for non-medical reasons: caffeine and alcohol. By law our children are correctly taught that alcohol, tobacco and caffeine are drugs. Little wonder so many young people dismiss the Government's message that 'drugs are harmful and no one should take them' as hypocritical and discriminatory.
The Government continues to deny non-traditional drug consumers and traders equal rights and opportunities on the basis that these drugs are harmful. They never suggest these drugs are any more harmful than the traditional drugs accepted by society. Indeed evidence suggests that magic mushrooms are considerably safer than alcohol. An EU government risk assessment of magic mushrooms states "the risk for the public health is therefore estimated as very low" while the World Health Organisation points out that 55,000 young people are killed by alcohol every year in Europe.
Policy based on tradition rather than evidence underlies all institutionalised discrimination. We no longer accept sexism and racism so why do we continue to accept drug discrimination?