Facing Magic Mushroom Craze, Tokyo Moves To Outlaw

  Facing Magic Mushroom Craze, Tokyo Moves To Outlaw

Posted by CN Staff on May 13, 2002 at 07:52:16 PT
By Hans Greimel, Associated Press Writer  
Source: Associated Press  

Enthusiasts admit it's not the taste that keeps them gobbling the shriveled, brown mushrooms. They're so bitter, many can only choke them down with orange juice or yogurt. The allure is the hallucinogen within, so potent that the fungi are outlawed in most countries with the likes of cocaine and heroin."It doesn't taste good, but I like to get high," 19-year-old student Wataru Kanbe said after eating a handful of "magic mushrooms" at a recent open-air concert. 
Best of all, he added with a glassy-eyed stare, doing so is completely legal. But not for long.Alarmed by the soaring popularity of hallucinogenic mushrooms and their sometimes toxic side effects, Japan's Health Ministry is finally plugging the legal loophole that has allowed them to be sold openly and lawfully by trendy shops, street vendors and mail order companies advertising in magazines.The crackdown — which takes effect June 6 — will slap a maximum seven-year prison term on magic mushroom possession, putting it on par with the penalty for cocaine possession.While the growing appeal of mushrooms reflects changing Japanese attitudes toward drugs, it also highlights the government's increasingly desperate battle against them.Japan has carefully nurtured its hardline reputation — from leveling life sentences on heroin traffickers to busting former Beatle Paul McCartney in 1980 when he stepped off the plane in Tokyo with a bag of marijuana.But a 1990 overhaul of the drug law overlooked one point. It banned the psychoactive drugs psilocybin and psilocin, but not the mushrooms that naturally produce them.It didn't take long for entrepreneurs to starting hawking the psychedelic fungi to curious teens and rebellious hipsters in search of a "legal high."So-called headshops mushroomed overnight in trendy Tokyo entertainment districts, selling packs for 1,800 yen to 3,000 yen (dlrs 13 to dlrs 23) a pop. They're all laid out in fancy glass display cases. Most are imported from the Netherlands, where they are grown on farms. But even hand-picked, wild "liberty cap" toadstools from Scotland turn up, at 2,600 yen (dlrs 20) for a gram (less than an ounce)."You can find them anywhere," complains Hideo Eno, of the Health Ministry's narcotics division.The ministry says there are at least 11 species of magic mushrooms, technically classified as poisonous plants and not drugs, being sold in Japan. As long as they're not labeled as food, that's been permitted.Takahito Watanabe, manager of PsychoPompos, a closet-sized headshop brazenly advertising itself with a marijuana-leaf signboard, says his desiccated mushrooms are for display purposes only."Or use as good luck charms," he said.The Health Ministry has no statistics on the size of the magic mushroom market or how many Japanese use them. But their popularity is hinted at by sales at a chain of three stores owned by mushroom magnate Muneo Ogishi. He claims more than 3,000 people stock up every month, mostly people in their 20s.The increase in use is also underlined by the increase in the number of people hospitalized for overdosing from one person in 1997 to 38 in 2000 — not huge numbers but enough to demand action, Eno says."Young people are curious. They say it's fun and safe. But really it contains a dangerous narcotic," he says.Users say the effect of magic mushrooms is like being sealed in a cocoon of euphoria where street lights look like prisms and neon blurs into rainbows. But the mushrooms can also trigger nausea and sudden fits of paranoia or panic. Mushrooms are not considered addictive, but they are considered a gateway to experimentation with other drugs.Narcotics use in Japan peaked during the economic boom of the 1980s, but has been on the rise again. Except for a dip in 1998, arrests for drug offenses rose consistently from 1995-2000. Last year, police took in a record haul of recreational drugs, seizing 797 kilograms (1,753 pounds) of marijuana and confiscating 118,000 tablets of ecstasy, a 40 percent increase from the year before.The changing mores are echoed in a recent government poll indicating nearly 20 percent of high school students nationwide think they should be lawfully permitted to use drugs if they wish."Drug abuse is on the rise and legalized magic mushrooms aren't helping," said Chikashi Okutsu, director of Asia Pacific Addiction Institute, a Tokyo drug abuse treatment center. He said mushrooms are particularly dangerous for inexperienced users "who don't know what they're doing."Complete Title: Facing Magic Mushroom Craze, Tokyo Moves To Outlaw "Legal High" Source: Associated PressAuthor: Hans Greimel, Associated Press Writer Published: Sunday, May 12, 2002Copyright: 2002 Associated PressRelated Article:Is Taking Psychedelics an Act of Sedition?

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Comment #17 posted by fordguy5 on May 07, 2003 at 20:04:27 PT:
Mushrooms are safer than alchohol
How many people are killed per year in Alchohol related accidents? How many people have had alchohol poisoning??? Alchohol can cause severe intoxication... People who are using mushrooms generaly dont drive, unless they are incredibly stupid. Mushrooms dont hurt anyone physicly, the worst that can happen is someone getting scared, and vomiting the mushrooms up...Yes mushrooms change perception, but in a different way than alchohol. Mushrooms are far safer than alchohol! Plus they are more fun if consumed in a safe atmosphere!
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Comment #16 posted by el_toonces on May 14, 2002 at 07:03:25 PT
Eye candy treat and shrooms
One piece of eye candy I allow myself to watch is "six Feet Under" on HBO. In the last episode (or a repeat?), daughter Claire gets a gift of psychedelic mushrooms from her rather wacky aunt and she and a friend ingest them. The effects -- shown by the camera only as could be seen by an independent observer and NOT the usual attempted subjective "distorted reality" camera shots -- were well protrayed and rather moving, I thought.Anyone else see it?
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Comment #15 posted by Toad on May 13, 2002 at 22:19:48 PT
A Handful of Secrets
Were mushrooms the forbidden fruit of the Garden of Eden? They will make you question reality and the state.
 Mushrooms are easy to grow in a fish tank at room temperature and need no direct light. Mushroom spores ( the microscopic 'shroom seeds) are legal in most states and can easily be ordered over the internet. (spelling ?) has worked great for me in the past. 
 Be careful mushrooms will really knock your cosmic socks off and should only be taken in a safe setting. Recommended readings, Terence McKenna,Food of the God's and Archaic Revival.
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Comment #14 posted by SWAMPIE on May 13, 2002 at 15:51:42 PT
 Here's a tasty site for all to read about 'shrooms,especially on the impact on Christmas cnd Christianity.Who'd a thunkit?It takes awhile to study,but it is wortg going there!
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Comment #13 posted by E_Johnson on May 13, 2002 at 12:48:43 PT
Of course Japan is so free from other problems
Well gee I can understand why the Japanese government feels this is an important issue, after all, it's not like Japan is in some kind of deepening economic crisis that is far worse than anything the Japanese have ever faced including losing WWII.
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Comment #12 posted by SpaceCat on May 13, 2002 at 11:07:59 PT
Price Supports
It's all about relative value- $3-10 for LSD and Mescaline, $25-35 for 'shrooms, that's still cheaper than an evening's worth of alcohol at a bar for most people.Those prices are about what they were 20 years ago as well, here in the Midwest. That's pretty good resistance to inflationary pressure. Weed has gone up exponentially, but so has the quality. You can still buy Mexican field-grown (poison) for about $100 an ounce.I agree with FOM- Mushrooms are like a kindler, gentler acid. I am glad for the experiences I had in my youth but have no desire to try either again. That gateway has swung shut.  
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Comment #9 posted by Lehder on May 13, 2002 at 10:14:51 PT

There are many varieties of psilocybe. They grow mostly on cow pies or in meadows so decorated. They turn purple upon bruising. mushrooms are notoriously difficult to distinguish from lots of 'little brown mushrooms' that can make a person very sick. "Magic mushroom" seekers talk about the search for Little Brown Mushrooms, because many of
their favorite hallucinogenic species are precisely that: LBMs. A potentially lethal LBM that is
common, abundant, fruits throughout the whole growing season, and looks quite similar to certain
"magic mushrooms" is the amatoxin-containing ________.A. Amanita virosa.
B. Amanita bisporigera.
C. Gyromitra esculenta.
D. Galerina autumnalis.
E. Two of the above are equally true.Answer is: D Lecture topic #5 psilocybin bearing mushrooms such as "Laughing Gyms" grow on decaying wood. They have about half the hallucinogen content of the better known psilocybes.'s illegal as hell to possess *any* of these psilocybin laden species.Lots of fungi are reputed to have medicinal propperties. the poisonous varieties. It's necessary to make spore prints to properly identify a mushroom, and good to have a microscope. A few people die every year from ingesting an Amanita variety, the infamous Death Angel. They're supposedly delicious, and you're symptom free for several hours - but then it's too late. You go into sweats and convulsions. Then you get better and think you're going to make it. And shortly afterward, you're dead. are even some mushrooms that glow in the dark. made some fungi like phallus impudicus just for George and Asa. grew up in a pretty remote area where people had to generate their own excitement.
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Comment #4 posted by aocp on May 13, 2002 at 09:25:59 PT

and thus
the morons in charge of Japan will create yet another method for people to make mad amounts of money from something that would otherwise be worth about as much as the s*** they're grown on. In the Pacific Northwest, shrooms can't even be given away because it's just too damn moist there and they're everywhere (or so i'm told). Contrast that to anywhere else in the united reich of amerika and people will pay between $25-$35 and eighth! That's about 2 trips per. Jeez, even acid and mescaline run between $3-$10/hit. Yet, people still pay for them. Go figure.Ain't governmental-price supports great? Governments are full of idiots. Just unbelieveable.
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Comment #3 posted by FoM on May 13, 2002 at 09:03:51 PT

I only took mushrooms one time back in the 70s. We had a fun day. All of us ate breakfast, then the mushrooms and went and rented a big Pontoon boat at one of our local lakes which are very big and spent the day on the lake. It's was a wonderful experience because we planned the day around the mushrooms long before we took them. I never wanted to do them again but am glad I did that one time. Much milder then LSD in my opinion.
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Comment #2 posted by Ethan Russo MD on May 13, 2002 at 08:58:34 PT:

The Dope on Mushrooms
"Young people are curious. They say it's fun and safe. But really it contains a dangerous narcotic," he says.Another inaccurate and irresponsible statement from a health minister who should know better.The Truth:Mushrooms containing psilocybin are a mild psychedelic of 4-6 hours duration. They are not narcotics, are not addictive, and have little innate toxicity. Some people will get nauseated, some will suffer panic, but all is self-limited. Much can be prevented with a proper set and setting, and a "guide" to talk down the frightened user. There are no known sequelae aside from being scared. Multiple medical uses have been reported including benefits on migraine, cluster headache, and lasting benefit on depression, alcoholism and obsessive-compulsive disorder.As a usual disclaimer, I cannot recommend them to anyone, medically or recreationally, and they remain in Schedule I along with cannabis, deemed dangerous and without medical use in the USA, as judged by government bureaucrats with no medical expertise.
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Comment #1 posted by project419 on May 13, 2002 at 08:49:41 PT

no sh*t!
"Drug abuse is on the rise and legalized magic mushrooms aren't helping," said Chikashi Okutsu, director of Asia
   Pacific Addiction Institute, a Tokyo drug abuse treatment center. He said mushrooms are particularly dangerous
   for inexperienced users "who don't know what they're doing."That is why we should work on INFORMING the public on them instead of making them illegal and trying to take them away...if they were legalized the potency could be tested,,,thus preventing overdoses...keep the shit legalized....only 30 some people sent to the hospital?...thats not too bad to gotta think of all the bad mushrooms out there that threre would be more than 30 people...
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