Magic mushrooms are forced underground by tough new penalties

Magic mushrooms are to be outlawed, with tough penalties for supplying or possessing the hallucinogenic fungi, under laws proposed by the Home Office yesterday.

Magic mushrooms are to be outlawed, with tough penalties for supplying or possessing the hallucinogenic fungi, under laws proposed by the Home Office yesterday.

Drug dealers who swallow their supplies, such as cocaine and heroin, to conceal them from police could also undergo X-rays or ultrasound scans, under the planned measures.

The Home Office published the proposals in its new Drugs Bill, which will clarify the law so that freshly picked magic mushrooms are illegal.

All forms of magic mushrooms will be treated as a class A drug, similar to heroin and cocaine, with maximum jail terms of life imprisonment for supplying, importing and exporting. Possessing them would carry a maximum prison sentence of seven years.

The move comes after a judge refused to allow the prosecution of two men caught selling bags of magic mushrooms from their shop. Recorder Claire Miskin threw out a case against Dennis Mardle and Colin Evans, at Gloucester Crown Court earlier this month, saying that the law was too ambiguous and needed to change.

Confusion in the law surrounds whether magic mushrooms constitute an illegal substance. While a fresh magic mushroom is legal, the hallucinogenic chemicals psilocin and an ester of psilocin contained in the fungi are illegal and treated as a class A drug. However, there are differing interpretations of whether dried mushrooms are against the law.

The Bill proposes amending the 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act to cover "fungus (of any kind) which contains psilocin or an ester of psilocin". A Home Office spokeswoman said: "There is a need to clarify the law so that it's completely clear that fresh magic mushrooms as well as dried are illegal, to clamp down on cases where magic mushrooms have been sold openly."

With magic mushrooms now being freely sold and advertised in markets stalls and speciality shops around the country, it is estimated a clampdown on the open sale of magic mushrooms would cause up to £1m in lost trade.

The Bill will also set up a presumption that people caught with more drugs than reasonable for personal use are dealers and so will face tougher sentences. There were expectations that police might be given the power to force suspected drug dealers to undergo x-rays.

Ministers have previously hinted that they would like to see this power introduced. But the Bill stopped short of the proposal. Instead, for X-rays or ultrasounds to take place, a suspect must give consent in writing.

But if a suspect refuses to have a scan, it will count against them in court. Magistrates would be given powers already available to Customs officers to remand suspected swallowers of drug packages in police custody for up to 192 hours.

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
Former Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin, left, with her daughter, Bristol
newsShe's 'proud' of eldest daughter, who 'punched host in the face'
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
A cabin crew member photographed the devastation after one flight
Life and Style
Carol O'Brien, whose son Rob suffered many years of depression
healthOne mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
Rob Merrick's Lobby Journalists were playing Ed Balls' Labour Party MPs. The match is an annual event which takes place ahead of the opening of the party conference
newsRob Merrick insistes 'Ed will be hurting much more than me'
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Life and Style
healthFor Pure-O OCD sufferers this is a reality they live in
Life and Style
Sexual health charities have campaigned for the kits to be regulated
healthAmerican woman who did tells parents there is 'nothing to be afraid of'
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
The John Peel Lecture has previously been given by Pete Townshend of The Who, Billy Bragg and Charlotte Church
musicGodfather of punk will speak on 'free music in a capitalist society'
peopleAt least it's for a worthwhile cause
Shoppers in Covent Garden, London, celebrate after they were the first to buy the iPhone 6, released yesterday
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments