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Tuesday, August 02, 2005 

Bad law, bad governing, bad economics.

Until recently there was a loophole in British drug law that allowed magic mushrooms (various species, active ingredient is psilocybin) to be sold legally, as long as they were not dried and completely fresh. Drying them or otherwise was considered to be 'preparing' them, making them illegal. For around 2 years this was allowed to carry on, with few raids on market stalls and shops which had decided to sell them. Then the government decided to close the loophole. This is sad news, mainly because magic mushrooms are much milder than LSD, to which it is similar, and that it is mostly harmless. There are worries about the possibilities of them bringing on mental health problems, but this is more likely to be depression than the worries over cannabis and schizophrenia. It's now also been discovered the sufferers of cluster headaches seem to have a found an almost miracle cure for their affliction:

Richard Ayliffe, 39, a chronic sufferer from Dudley in the West Midlands, says he has tried conventional treatments but the only thing to have brought him relief is magic mushrooms. Without them he says he would not be able to hold down a job.

"People are quite sympathetic at first but once you've let them down for the third time sympathy turns to exasperation," he says. "Magic mushrooms have enabled me to lead a normal life."

Like other members of ClusterBusters - an online forum where cluster headache sufferers swap notes and discuss alternative treatments - Ayliffe claims that taking magic mushrooms not only interrupts his cycle of headaches, but buys him longer remission periods between attacks. Some sufferers claim that since taking mushrooms they have been pain-free for up to two years.

And, because an attack can come at any time many members stockpiled mushrooms ahead of the government's ban this month.

Last week one member of the group, a 41-year-old father of two who asked to be identified only as Lee, admitted he had already taken one dose in contravention of the ban.

Under the Drugs Act 2005 possession of magic mushrooms is a class A offence punishable by a seven-year prison sentence. Previously, only psilocybin and other preparations of mushrooms, but not the fresh product itself, were controlled.

"The way I see it, either I break the law or forgo the most effective treatment I have found in nearly six years," says Lee.

Since he began taking mushrooms a year ago, he says the intensity of his headaches has shrunk by a third and the remissions between attacks have lengthened to 40 days.

"It's absolutely incredible," he says. "I can't tell you how much magic mushrooms have changed my life."

Similar to how those with MS and other painful illnesses have found that smoking cannabis helps with the pain, it seems that magic mushrooms now also has followers other than those interested in getting wasted and seeing colours. Other reports have been made of mothers in their 30s taking them at parties, due to the very limited side effects and non-addictive qualities. Why prosecute people over a drug that is even less dangerous than cannabis, especially when cannabis is now supposedly not an arrestable offence if you are found with a small amount in your possession? Even worse, mushrooms are in Class A, along with heroin, crack and ecstasy. At times all this government seems to care about is the economy. In outlawing mushrooms, they've just sent an industry which wasn't hiding back underground, along with all the connotations and criminal practices that brings with it. I would say it was a case of the government running scared of a tabloid backlash, but I think it's more just down to pure ignorance that mushrooms have been outlawed. For a government that has tried to promote equality and bring down poverty (or so it says), successful or not, this seems ludicrous.

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This is very interesting site...
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