Dutch court upholds ban on magic mushrooms

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The Independent Online

The Netherlands will ban the sale and cultivation of hallucinogenic mushrooms from next week, the latest target of a country seeking to shed its "anything goes" image.

The Dutch government proposed the ban in April and cited the dangerous effects of magic mushrooms after a French teenager consumed them and died jumping from a bridge in 2007.

A court in The Hague rejected a challenge to the ban yesterday. From 1 December the production or sale of fresh magic mushrooms will be punishable by up to four years in jail. The Dutch justice ministry said it was targeting growers and shops selling the fungi.

Psilocybin found in mushrooms can cause vomiting, muscle weakness and drowsiness, as well as hallucinations, panic and psychosis, the US National Drug Intelligence Centre says.

Proponents of magic mushrooms say their use brings spiritual awareness, personal insight and meditation.

Selling dried magic mushrooms is already illegal and the new ban will now apply to fresh mushrooms as well, which have been previously sold in "smart shops" for about €15 (£12).

David Henriks, from Tatanka shop, said the ban would put users at greater risk. "People will just go picking in the forest, and that can be dangerous. Or they will go to street dealers and get mixed up with hard drugs," he said.

Amsterdam emergency services responded to 128 mushroom-related incidents in 2006 – most of the casualties were British youngsters. reuters