Pubdate: Tue, 27 Apr 2010
Source: London Free Press (CN ON)
Copyright: 2010 The London Free Press
Author: Randy Richmond


Magic Mushrooms

The psychedelic '60s have sprouted in London's drug scene.

Twice in the past month, police have busted grow operations that did 
not boast the usual marijuana plants.

Instead, investigators found a throwback to hippies, the Summer of 
Love and San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury district -- magic mushrooms 
or schrooms as they are sometimes called.

"We haven't seen them cultivated in town for a long time," said Det. 
Supt. Ken Heslop, head of the criminal investigation unit.

RCMP officers say they can't remember the last time they busted a 
magic mushroom grow-op in Ontario.

"It is very strange. It is not a common thing," said Sgt. Marc 
Laporte, media relations for London-based O Division that polices the province.

Veteran drug officers told him "they've never come across them 
before," Laporte said.

Two busts hardly represents a trend, Laporte said.

But, he added, "it is definitely something to keep an eye on."

Magic mushrooms describe a variety of species that contain the 
hallucinogen psilocybin.

Dried and taken orally in tea, or in food, psilocybin mushrooms can 
produce a feeling of heightened perception, hallucinations and 
euphoria. They can also cause psychosis, panic and nausea.

Some American cultures, most notably the Aztecs, used magic mushrooms 
for centuries.

But it took counter-culture gurus such as Timothy Leary to spread the 
word through the United States during the psychedelic era in the 1960s.

Magic mushrooms seemed to fade in notoriety as hippies grew older, 
bought houses and started saving for retirement.

Although they've always been available, magic mushrooms aren't 
mentioned in the 2010 national drug threat assessment from the U.S. 
National Drug Intelligence Center.

Nor does the latest national analysis from the RCMP, dated in 2007.

Last fall, however, Mounties seized about 68 kg of magic mushrooms, 
worth about $700,000, grown in B.C. and heading east.

Mushroom grow-ops are easier to hide than marijuana grow-ops, Heslop said.

"They are smaller. They are easily concealable and don't need the 
hydro or lighting situations (marijuana) grow-ops do," he said.

"It can be done in a closet or a corner really out of the way of everybody."

In fact, London police weren't looking for the magic mushroom 
grow-ops when they came upon them.

Police were investigating a marijuana grow-op when they seized 
mushrooms at a Third St. residence March 30.

A robbery investigation April 14 on Fleming Dr. led to another seizure.

Neither seizure was large -- each about two, metre-square containers 
worth of soil and mushrooms.

There were enough mushrooms to sell, but likely just locally, Heslop said.

London police have to wait for three months for Health Canada tests 
to confirm the mushrooms were indeed magic.

But police believe that's what they've seized and are wondering now 
if a new era of psychedelic drugs is on the horizon.

"We'll see if it goes somewhere," Heslop said.

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What: More than 190 species that contain psilocybin, a hallucinogen.

How: Ingested orally, psilocybin broken into another hallucinogen, psilocyn.

Effects: Range from euphoria, a feeling of heightened perception and 
hallucinations to panic, paranoia and psychosis.

Can cause physical side-effects, such as vomiting, but no evidence of 
physical dependence.

Nicknames: schrooms, caps, boomers, mushies.

Source: U.S. National Drug Intelligence Center
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MAP posted-by: Keith Brilhart