Home office UK on magic mushrooms

By Alfa · Jul 5, 2004 · ·
  1. Alfa
    We have recieved a letter from the home office.
    Legal issues surrounding the use of psilocybe/magic mushrooms

    Legal issues surrounding the use of psilocybe/magic mushrooms
    Dear Mrs Strange,

    Thank you for your e-mail of 11 March to Wade Khan regarding the legal issues surrounding the use of psilocybe/magic mushrooms. I have been asked to reply and I am sorry for the delay. As you may know, this is because we have been considering the issue carefully with our lawyers.

    It will be helpful if I set out the legal position in some detail as it is not as straightforward as for the possession and supply of most other controlled drugs.

    It is, of course, ultimately a matter for the courts to determine whether any misuse of drugs offence has been committed under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 ("the 1971 Act"). I shall therefore only give an opinion as to what the law permits.

    Magic mushrooms naturally contain the substances psilocin (a hallucinogen) and psilocybin (an ester of psilocin). It is these two substances which are controlled as Class A drugs in Part I of Schedule 2 to the 1971 Act, not the magic mushrooms themselves. The Act ensures that the term "a controlled drug" is narrowly defined so that, except where expressly provided, it is the chemical, which is the controlled "substance" or "product" and nothing else. When the magic mushrooms are in their natural raw state it is not unlawful to possess, supply or cultivate them. However, it is unlawful to possess and supply the magic mushrooms if preparation and/or production has occurred.

    Case law on this subject has demonstrated that the key to a successful prosecution is the preparation and production of the mushrooms. In determining preparation the word is given its ordinary and natural meaning, with the intervention of the "hand of man" being the crucial test. The case of Stevens [1981] Crim. L.R. 568, CA held that, "in order for the mushrooms to be prepared they had to cease being in their natural growing state and in some way be altered by the hand of man to put them in a condition in which they could be used for human consumption".

    The case of Hodder v DPP [1990] Crim. L.R. 261 held that it was sufficient for the mushrooms to have been taken from their natural state and in some way altered to make them into a usable condition (in this case picked, packaged and frozen). Consequently, the mushrooms as picked, packaged and frozen were held to be a product under paragraph 5 of Part I of Schedule 2 to the 1971 Act.

    In the Home Office's view, a form of preparation and production has occurred by the sale of magic mushrooms in market places and shops or at other sale points. Accordingly, those selling, or seeking to sell, the mushrooms at such premises are unlawfully supplying a product containing psilocin and/or psilocybin.

    I hope this is helpful.

    Yours sincerely,

    Tawa Bishi

    Taken from the site of www.mjreedsolicitors.co.uk

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  1. Alfa
    See here for an article by BBC radio on Magic mushrooms. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/law_in_action/3860989.stm

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    <DIV class=sh>Magic Mushrooms
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    BBC Radio 4's Law in Action was broadcast on Friday, 2 July 2004 at 1600 BST.

    In the past year, the open sale of so-called "magic mushrooms" in Britain's shops and markets has become commonplace. The mushrooms contain substances banned under the Misuse of Drugs Act and can have a powerful hallucinogenic effect. So is their sale legal? Law in Action discovers that suppliers have been getting conflicting advice from the government and that an important test case could mean an end to what's become a lucrative commercial operation. </TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>
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