Total ban on sale of magic mushrooms
15 October 2007, THE HAGUE - The Dutch authorities agreed Friday to ban the sale of magic mushrooms, a move sure to annoy many tourists visiting the Netherlands, known for its liberal drugs policies.
15 October 2007
THE HAGUE - The Dutch authorities agreed Friday to ban the sale of magic mushrooms, a move sure to annoy many tourists visiting the Netherlands, known for its liberal drugs policies.
The Dutch health and justice ministers said Friday that they have agreed to change the drug laws to ban the sale and cultivation of hallucinogenic mushrooms.
The move comes during an ongoing debate in the Netherlands about the safety of the so-called magic mushrooms after a number of incidents involving tourists who had taken them.
"We saw a rise in the incidents with paddo's (hallucinogenic mushrooms) recently from 55 reported by the emergency services in 2004 to 128 last year. This year we already had over a hundred incidents reported, mainly in Amsterdam," health ministry spokeswoman Karin Donk said.
In March a 17-year-old French girl died after she threw herself from an Amsterdam bridge. She had eaten magic mushrooms, but no formal link was established between the two occurrences.
There have been several other incidents with tourists who had a bad trip on the mushrooms and became aggressive or paranoid.
"We expect the ban to come into effect in the next few months after it has been approved by the parliament and the senate," Donk said.
After the incident with the French tourist a majority in the Dutch parliament had called for a total ban on magic mushrooms.
The change in the Dutch drug laws would mean that both growing and selling magic mushrooms will be banned and so-called smartshops that are selling them will be closed down, Donk said.
The Dutch association of smartshops, VLOS, said Friday that they were stunned by the move.
"This is a problem that is confined to Amsterdam and specifically the city centre there and now smartshops all over the Netherlands are becoming victims of this, and that is sad," VLOS spokesman Paul van Oyen told AFP.
The VLOS represents 39 of the around 180 shops that sell the mushrooms in the Netherlands. According to Van Oyen the Dutch market for hallucinogenic mushrooms is worth some EUR 10 million (USD 14 million) annually.
Currently in the Netherlands the sale of dried magic mushrooms is banned but fresh mushrooms are allowed.
In January of this year the Amsterdam health authorities GGD raised the alarm over a rise in mushroom-related incidents. 92 percent of people involved were tourists, according to the GGD.
The same report shows that incidents where an ambulance was called involving alcohol or cannabis far outweigh those with mushrooms.
Tourists hoping to get high in Amsterdam need not despair -- smoking cannabis is still allowed. The consumption and possession of less than five grammes of cannabis was decriminalised in 1976 in the Netherlands. The drug is sold in licensed 'coffee shops' throughout the country, in small doses.
[Copyright afp 2007]/Subject: Dutch news