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Sale of hallucinogenic ‘magic’ mushrooms banned starting December 1, 2008

• Nov. 28, 2008 Update: Judge rejects legal challenge against ban


DutchAmsterdam.nl, Nov. 11, 2008 — A national ban on the sale of fresh hallucinogenic ‘magic’ mushrooms will take effect in the Netherlands on December 1, 2008. In dried form those mushrooms already were banned under Dutch Opiate Laws.

The ban was first proposed in October 2007, after as series of high-profile deaths and injuries linked to magic mushroom trips.

In 2006, nine out of ten incidences in which ‘shrooms’ played a role involved tourists — many of whom had apparently not followed advice for proper use as handed out by the so-called ‘smart shops.’ The vast majority of these incidences took place in Amsterdam.

When they buy mushrooms, consumers are instructed in their proper use. Among other things they are told not to use the mushrooms in combination with other drugs or with alcohol.

Magic mushrooms in Amsterdam

Health minister Ab Klink had urged the Dutch Lower House to ban the mushrooms after a 17-year-old French girl committed suicide by jumping from a bridge into busy traffic. It was later stated that the girl, not old enough to legally enter a smart shop herself, had asked a friend to buy her some mushrooms.

Smart shop owners say they are flabbergasted. According to them a better system of checks and balances would have taken care of the problem. In fact, when the ban was first proposed Amsterdam mayor Job Cohen called for a three day “wait period” in which customers would order and pay for their mushrooms in advance, at which time they would receive information outlining the proper use and effects of the plant before being able to pick up the purchase later.

At the time, Amsterdam mayor Job Cohen in an open letter urged Health minister Klink to treat Amsterdam as a special case. “Cohen notedoffsite that an overwhelming proportion of all problematic cases involved young, international tourists and took place in the country’s capital city. In many of these instances, the patient had consumed multiple substances, particularly alcohol and marijuana.”

Klink, however, was not impressed by Cohen’s arguments, or those of smart shop owners. He insisted on the national ban because the effects of the drugs are unpredictable and thus dangerous.

Industry organizaton ‘Vereniging Landelijk Overleg Smartshops’ (VLOS) — the national association of smartshops — has been asked to chart the potential damage. Smartshop owners fear a big drop in income, and claim hundreds of shop clerks will end up being fired from their jobs.

Last year, a…

…spokesman for the Amsterdam Drugs Advisory Bureau said: “This is not a mushroom problem, it is a tourist problem. But the ban would hit Dutch users.”

Peter van Dijk, a researcher at the Utrecht-based Trimbos Institute, which studies drug addiction, said: “A mushroom is not very dangerous. It is not as toxic as, for example, heroin or cocaine.” The real danger came from a blend of alcohol, cannabis and mushrooms that led people “to do things they normally would not”, he added.

Joep Oomen, of the European Coalition for Just and Effective Drug Policies, a pressure group calling for the legalisation of drugs, said that a ban would drive the drug culture back underground.

“Prohibition will not stop the sale of hallucinogenics. It will move towards an illegal market and users will be forced to start using things they do not really want with no indication of the dosage and the risks,” he said.
– Source: Sale of hallucinogenic magic mushrooms to be forbidden in the Netherlands


Update, Nov. 12, 2008:

Industry Organization Files Lawsuit

DutchAmsterdam.nl, Nov. 12, 2008 — Industry organization VLOS, the national association of smartshops, has filed a lawsuit intended to delay to ban on the sale of fresh hallucinogenic mushrooms. The ban is scheduled to take effect on December 1st, 2008.

VLOS spokesman Paul van Ooijen says procedural mistakes have been made, which should prevent the ban from being enforced. The VLOS points out that according to Holland’s Opiate Law, a ban is only called for if a substance has proven to be damaging to national health or society. Yet, yearly sales of about one and a half million portions of mushrooms, have led to only a very limited number of incidents which — the organization says — have not been demonstrably connected with the use of mushrooms.

In addition, VLOS argues, no scientific, toxicological research has been done. Too, Health Minister Klink has rejected the advice of Coördinatiepunt Assessment en Monitoring nieuwe drugs (CAM, Coödinationpoint Assessment and Monitoring of new drugs — part of the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment). Instead, the group says, Klink has based his decision on assumptions and unfounded statements.

The VLOS maintains that a complete ban on the sale of fresh mushrooms will result in the closure of many smartshops, while remaining shops will see a sharp drop in income.

At the same time, operators of many smartshops have indicated that they are looking for alternatives because, they say, nature has produced many hallucinogenic plants.

See Also:
Amsterdam magic mushroom incidents on the rise: health service (June 1, 2008)


Update, Nov. 28, 2008:

Judge rejects challenge

A Dutch judge today rejected a legal challenge filed by industry organization VLOS against a national ban on the sale of fresh hallucinogenic ‘magic’ mushrooms.

VLOS, the national association of smartshops, had hoped to at least delay the ban.

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This post was last updated: May. 18, 2011