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Moore, Joan (2007) Drugs in Focus - policy briefing. Drugnet Ireland, Issue 22, Summer 2007, p. 30.

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No. 15: Hallucinogenic mushrooms: the challenge of responding to naturally occurring substances in an electronic age 
This policy briefing, No 15 in the Drugs in focus series issued by the EMCDDA, reviews information on the use of hallucinogenic mushrooms in Europe and draws lessons to inform policy. 

Naturally occurring hallucinogens can be found in over 100 species of mushroom, most of which contain psilocybin and psilocin as the main ingredients responsible for the hallucinogenic effect. These ingredients are controlled at the highest level internationally, but there is a lack of legal clarity in some countries with regard to mushrooms containing these substances. This confusion has been exploited by mushroom retailers and has presented obstacles to the development of mechanisms to control supply. 

Among the key points made in this briefing are:

·            Among young people aged 15 to 24 years old in 12 EU Member States, the proportion who have ever used hallucinogenic mushrooms ranges from less than 1% to 8%. Their use is more common among young people who have used other illegal drugs than among young people who have not.

·            The sale of hallucinogenic mushrooms by ‘smart’ shops and market stalls in the Netherlands and the UK appears to have played an important role in facilitating their use.

·            A recent internet search identified 39 online shops that sell hallucinogenic mushroom products. Considerable variation was noted in the extent and quality of information provided about the health risks of the products sold.

·            The reported number of fatal and non-fatal emergencies from hallucinogenic mushroom use is very low. In general, the physiological effects are short-lasting and not significant; it is more commonly linked to mental health risks and, in a significant number of cases, to panic attacks.

·            The unpredictable effects of these mushrooms, and social constraints on young experimenters, may act as barriers to regular or frequent use.

·            Six EU countries, including Ireland, have tightened their legislation on mushrooms since 2001 in response to concerns about the prevalence of use. There are signs that online retailers have responded by switching to uncontrolled and, in some cases, more toxic alternatives.

·            There appears to be a gap in the provision of mushroom-specific information material for professionals working with young people and a similar lack of prevention or harm reduction material aimed at potential users. 

Drugs in focus is a series of policy briefings published by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA). The briefings are available on the EMCDDA website at www.emcdda.europa.eu 

If you would like to receive a hard copy of the current or future issues of Drugs in focus, please contact: Alcohol and Drug Research Unit, Health Research Board, Knockmaun House, 42–47 Lower Mount Street, Dublin 2

 Tel: 01 2345 127; Email: adru@hrb.ie


Item Type
Publication Type
International, Open Access, Article
Intervention Type
Issue Title
Issue 22, Summer 2007
April 2007
Page Range
p. 30
Health Research Board
Issue 22, Summer 2007
Accession Number
HRB (Available)

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