Home > Government bans sale of 'magic' mushrooms.

Connolly, Johnny (2006) Government bans sale of 'magic' mushrooms. Drugnet Ireland, Issue 17, Spring 2006, p. 9.

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As of 31 January 2006, the Government, in the exercise of powers conferred on them by section 2(2) of the Misuse of Drugs Act, 1977, has ordered that ‘any substance, product or preparation (whether natural or not), including a fungus of any kind or description, which contains psilocin or an ester of psilocin is a controlled drug for the purposes of the Act’.1 The effect of this order is to render the possession or sale of so-called ‘magic’ mushrooms criminal offences under the Act. Heretofore, it was illegal to possess or supply magic mushrooms in a dried or prepared state but lawful to possess and sell them in their natural state.

Magic mushrooms are hallucinogens that grow wild in autumn. They are usually eaten raw but can be dried out and put into food or tea for consumption. Their use in Ireland largely began in the mid-1970s when they emerged as an alternative to LSD.

In 2005 the National Advisory Committee on Drugs (NACD) and the Drugs and Alcohol Information and Research Unit (DAIRU) of the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety in Northern Ireland published jointly the first results from an all-Ireland general population drug prevalence survey.2 Some of the findings relating to Ireland from this survey are presented in Table 1.

Table 1   Lifetime and last-year prevalence of cannabis, ecstasy, LSD and magic mushroom use by young adults (aged 15–34) in Ireland


Lifetime prevalence

(ever used)


Last-year prevalence

(used in the last year)








Magic mushrooms






Source: NACD and DAIRU (2005)

It can be seen from Table 1 that, when we compare lifetime use of magic mushrooms with last-year prevalence, the figure for use of magic mushrooms drops significantly, from 5.9% to 0.7%. This suggests that magic mushrooms are used by young adults largely as an experimental drug. The same can be said of LSD.

A number of localised surveys have also been conducted throughout Ireland on the prevalence of magic mushroom use among young people. A survey sample of 1,838 school- going teenagers (aged 13–18) in Kildare and west Wicklow found that the lifetime prevalence of magic mushroom use was 5% (number 94); 37% of those reported current use.3 The mean age of first use was found to be 13.6 years, with more males (45%) than females (20%) reporting persistent use. A survey of drug availability in Kilkenny found that magic mushrooms are ‘extremely popular, when in season’.4 In the past two years, magic mushrooms have been available for sale in over 300 locations in the UK and in a number of locations In Dublin and elsewhere in Ireland.

The risks associated with magic mushrooms can vary depending on the mood, situation and expectation of the user.5 Among the reported effects are feelings of confidence, visual and sound distortions, paranoia and vomiting. A recent risk assessment conducted by the Netherlands-based Coordination Centre for the Assessment and Monitoring of new drugs (CAM) concluded: ‘This drug is not associated with physical or psychological dependency, acute toxicity is largely limited to possible panic and anxiety attacks and, in terms of chronic toxicity, the worst that can happen are flashbacks. Consequently, the use of…hallucinogenic mushrooms does not, on balance, present any risk to the health of the individual’.6 As magic mushrooms can be sold in outlets in the Netherlands, the report recommended that quality requirements (standardisation, purity testing and labelling) be imposed on such outlets.

There is a lack of scientific evidence on the overall effects of magic mushroom consumption. There is no reported evidence of serious health damage from long-term use of magic mushrooms. The average dosage is 20–30 mushrooms; however, tolerance can develop quickly and dosages increase as a result. A risk associated with magic mushrooms is poisoning through picking and consuming the wrong type of mushroom.

Following the change in the law in January, it is reported that a number of outlets which were selling magic mushrooms have removed them from their stores and shelves.

1.       Misuse of Drugs Act 1977 (Controlled Drugs) (Declaration) Order 2006.

2.       National Advisory Committee on Drugs and Drug and Alcohol Information and Research Unit (2005) Drug use in Ireland and Northern Ireland: first results (revised) from the 2002/2003 drug prevalence study. Bulletin 1. Dublin: National Advisory Committee on Drugs.

3.       Cahill R, O’Neill I, Barnett T, Fogarty C, McDermott R and Keenan E (1999) Substance use in school going teenagers in Co. Kildare and west Wicklow. Dublin: Eastern Health Board.

4.       Finane R (2000) Kilkenny drugs initiative: substance misuse research findings and action plan. Kilkenny: Kilkenny Drugs Initiative. p. 8.

5.       For a review of the effects of magic mushrooms, see: http://www.drugs.ie/drugtypes/drug/magic_mushrooms_hallucinogen

6.       Coordination Centre for the Assessment and Monitoring of new drugs (CAM) (2000) Risk assessment report relating to psilocin and psilocybin. The Hague: CAM. p. 5.

Item Type
Publication Type
Irish-related, Open Access, Article
Drug Type
New psychoactive substance
Intervention Type
Issue Title
Issue 17, Spring 2006
January 2006
Page Range
p. 9
Health Research Board
Issue 17, Spring 2006
Accession Number
HRB (Available)

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