Tuesday, April 26, 2005


On 'Shrooms & Politics

So, the other day, fancying a bit of a laugh, I picked up a copy of 'The Guardian Student', or, as it's also known, 'The Idiots Guide To The Guardian', owing to the fact it's thinner than a Michael Jackson excuse, yet contains all the stories of the week deemed relevant to students, or that they might understand, or something. And there were a couple of interesting pieces in it.

Under the headline, 'Mushroom Ban Opposed' (different online, here), the writer, Mark Honigsbaum, analyses the proposed amendments to the 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act, in which it is neither illegal to sell or possess magic mushrooms in their natural state. Here are the juicier extracts, with my thoughts in brackets:

'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.'"

The 1971 Act is indeed deeply flawed. Clearly, the situation was preposterous where mushrooms were legal, but their active ingredients weren't, and where you could be prosecuted if they were found in your kitchen, but not in your garden. However, it's worth pointing out that the damage inflicted by 'shroom users is pretty low, all things considered. It seems to me that the more sensible route would have been full legalisation, which would allow the Police to keep better track of the goings-on in the business.

Salvia, by the way, is total rubbish, or so I'm told. I've no intention of trying it. Allegedly, however, it wouldn't get a fly on a high.

"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 and chairman of Mentor UK, which aims to prevent drug misuse by young people. "There's no evidence magic mushrooms are addictive, cause harm to people or are a public order problem. The bill is completely disproportionate.'

Surely this can't be true. No evidence? Not a single study or survey found the slightest element of addictiveness or the most tenuous link to 'harm to people?' I find that a bit hard to believe, however much it would improve my argument if it were true.

'Yesterday a Home Office spokeswoman said people would not be considered to have committed an offence merely for having magic mushrooms growing on their land.'

Who's to say? If possession is illegal, where will the line be drawn? If Plod comes around, and you're digging up your garden, and you've got a pile of dug-up 'shrooms in a wheelbarrow, is he/she going to think twice? It all seems a bit daft to me.

Above: Harmless fun or damaging poison?

The other interesting story comes on page 2, in a little blue box called 'Campus view: does voting matter?' This box fulfils the most pernicious need of all modern media, the need to be interactive. This allows us the delights of Venetia Harpin's (English & Philosophy) views on the electoral system. And what pearl of wisdom does Venetia offer us:

'"Yes, definitely. I'm concerned by voter apathy. Also, I can't believe there's not more information and support for students about voting in elections, considering that we're supposed to be so politically active."'

If we're supposed to be so politically active, Venetia, why do we need support to work out how to tick a box? If you're that active, don't you already know who to vote for?

My dad was given magic mushroom tea by a friend a long time ago and when he was going on the bus he thought the devil was driving the bus but it was only the driver driving the bus. I wouldn't take it myself and he wouldn't take it again and I don't recommend it to anyone but we had a laugh about it though, what a silly sod!
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?