Magic Mushrooms are a relatively mild hallucinogen; the active ingredient is called psilocybin. They mainly grow wild although can be cultivated. They are illegal to possess or supply – even though they are not addictive, by law they are Class A drugs.
The season for wild magic mushrooms in Britain is autumn (Sept-Nov). The British magic mushroom is called the ‘liberty cap’. They are white, between 5-10 cms tall. They have a very thin black stem and distinctive ‘nipple’ on the top of the cap.
For most people who take mushrooms, it is an occasional experience. Mushrooms are sometimes sold at festivals and clubs. A few years ago there was quite a big market in imported mushrooms (from Holland) but it has been severely diminished by a change of law in 2005.
Also known as: Mushies, shrooms
A dose of around 20 average-sized mushrooms (swallowed) would be sufficient to experience some of the effects. They do not begin to work immediately – between 10 minutes to over an hour. It is obviously better to be patient rather than take many more and get much stronger effects than you had wished. A dose of 20 will start to wear off after about four hours – they are not as long-lasting and less intense than other psychedelics such as LSD or mescaline.
People experience typically euphoria, accentuated colours, loss of time perspective, mild to medium hallucinations. They are unpleasant tasting and sometimes are made into a tea. The effects mean you will prefer to be in a ‘chilled’ environment with friends. You will not wish to be on mushrooms and still at work or studying.
Mushrooms are not addictive. High doses (50-100) can cause paranoia and anxiety. Any hallucinogenic drug can be very disturbing to some people. Like any drug, mushrooms can worsen an existing mental health problem. After taking mushrooms, alcohol can be consumed seemingly without much effect so can be potentially hazardous to yourself and others.
Take only one dose of mushrooms. Some of the worst experiences are from those who have doubted the effects and taken several more resulting in a much stronger hit. If you are picking your own in fields then ensure you have the right variety. Other mushrooms and toadstools can be poisonous and make you very sick. Avoid mixing with alcohol or other drugs.
It is illegal to possess any kind of magic mushroom whether raw and just picked or dried or prepared into a ‘tea’. In whatever form, they are Class A drugs.
If you are caught with a bag of mushrooms, probably dried, the police may consider prosecuting. If you go to court you may get a fine and possibly community service. It is very unlikely you will be sent to prison. The police may choose to offer you a caution. But this means you have admitted the offence – you will have a criminal record and your details will be on the Police National Computer.
Are they safe to pick?
Identifying the correct ‘liberty cap’ is essential. Anyone who picks mushrooms uninformed is taking too big a risk- the most harmful mushrooms such as fly agaric can cause heart or kidney damage.
What is a safe dose?
It is difficult to measure a safe mushroom dose because the strength of dried and fresh mushrooms varies. Some people are sensitive to psychedelics so it can be difficult to determine what a ‘strong’ or ‘weak’ dose is.
Is it safe to take psychedelic drugs at festivals?
Psychedelics can offer an intense high so a crowded festival environment can become overwhelming and dangerous if people also drink alcohol. Most psychedelic drug-takers try to minimise the chances of a ‘bad trip’ by staying in familiar environments.