Vice Squad
Monday, February 21, 2005
Update: A Mushroom By Any Other Name

Vice Squad has previously reported on the status of "magic" mushrooms in Great Britain, noting that they are legal to grow and possibly sell, as long as they are not "produced". Under current British law, the mushrooms themselves are legal, only products of magic mushrooms - psilocin and psilocybin - are controlled. A British court has ruled that prosecuting people for dealing in fresh mushrooms is both an abuse of the legal process and their human rights.

Well, British government officials, ever creative in coming up with new and convoluted meanings to ordinary words in the English language, have decided to bring two new "test cases", prosecuting individuals for producing the fungi. In the current cases, the defendants apparently weighed and bagged the mushrooms, and therefore, according to the Crown, converted them into a "drug product". In the case that was previously struck down by the courts, the defendant had refrigerated the mushrooms and the government claimed that converted the mushrooms into a "product".

Counsel for the defense sees these cases as a waste of time and taxpayer money. There is a current bill before parliament to list mushrooms (fresh or otherwise) as a Class A drug alongside heroin and crack cocaine. Defense attorneys are moving to stay the current prosecutions until the new bill becomes law. There is no guarantee this will happen. An organic chemist who sits on the committee reviewing the new bill believes much more research is needed on the mushrooms before the government decides to outlaw them.

However, Caroline Flint, the Home Office minister spearheading the passage of the drugs bill through parliament is, not surprisingly, concerned about the children.

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