VISIT THE HIPPY'S NEW SITE: www.northlondonhippy.com Spend some time chilling out with the hippy...He used to be "the most shroomtastic stoner on the internet!" until the UK banned fresh magic mushrooms. He's still "the biggest internet celebrity you've never heard of!" He'll make you laugh, he'll make you think...he'll make you wish you were a hippy too!

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

I'm still awake, I shouldn't be. It's just gone noon.

I'm a crazy hippy, what can I tell you. I'll be getting out of bed in 5 hours. No yippppeeeee for that, I can assure you, my friend.

My reason for still being awake? I've been writing a letter to the Guardian newspaper with my thoughts to their article published today about MAGIC MUSHROOMS.

Well, it started out as a letter, but it's actually quite long. I sent it anyway. Since there's probably no chance they'll actually print it, I'll share it with you here and now.
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Dear Guardian Editor,

I'm writing in response to an article which appeared in Tuesday's (14/12/04) G2 section about "magic mushrooms", written by Stephen Moss.

As the "most shroomtastic stoner on the internet" and staunch advocate of natural legal highs, I’m also the internet celebrity that no-one’s ever heard of, but that’s an entirely different subject.

The subject of the article, the government’s changing stance on the legality of selling fresh magic mushrooms, quite simply, appalled me

I, of course, praise the article for highlighting inconsistencies in the government's current approach to magic mushrooms and the law. It's even sillier than this government's approach to cannabis, which should naturally be as legal and controlled as fags and beer. Oh and don’t forget taxed!

I discovered fresh, legal magic mushrooms about 18 months ago and have been a regular shroomer ever since. I don’t think my vocabulary can stretch far enough to explain just how much I enjoy them. They have become my favourite drug of choice and I really hope the government can please find something else to muck around with instead of shrooms. Please note, I said “please”.

People have enjoyed magic mushrooms for thousands of years. Shrooms are a naturally occurring fungus, which can be found all around the planet.

Here in the UK, the most common strain is the liberty cap, which grows quite prodigiously in the wild. If the government wishes to ban all magic mushrooms, I would suggest they have a word with God since s/he is the one who spread this most common type all over open fields in the UK.

When potential traders decided to test the UK laws regarding the sale of fresh magic mushrooms, they wrote to the Home Office seeking clarification. They were advised (in a letter, which most shroom-sellers display, on their stalls or websites) that as long as the magic mushrooms were not processed or dried and were sold in their natural state, no laws were being broken. From this a new industry was born.

I thought New Labour was all about encouraging emerging entrepreneurial endeavors? It’s not just the magic mushrooms but business they don’t want to grow.

Magic mushrooms are easily the best drug I've ever enjoyed and I've experimented with nearly everything at one time or another. And compared to alcohol…well there is no comparison. Shrooms have the edge in my opinion.

As your article suggests, they have become extremely popular with decent, respectable people, just like me. I'm a "media professional" working full time and paying my taxes. I just happen to enjoy recreational drugs, a lot.

The come-up from shrooms is smooth, the trip is fantastically enjoyable and there is no comedown or hangover whatsoever. I see shrooms as nearly the perfect drug. Screw coke, LSD and ecstasy, shrooms are much more fun!

The effects of magic mushrooms vary with the dose, the more you take, the more you feel.

Smaller doses can cause giddiness and laughter; in larger quantities, the effects are stronger. Your senses are heightened; your hearing and eyesight can become sharper. You’ll notice details in music and visual patterns you’ve never noticed before. Objects may appear to subtly move or breathe, but since you are aware this can happen, it should not cause you any alarm. Actually, it’s quite enchanting.

You won’t see fire-breathing dragons or other apparitions, at least I never have. It would be an interesting change if I ever did though. A hippy can but hope.

Hallucinations from shrooms aren’t like they are in the cinema, but it doesn’t mean you can’t have a bad trip. Drugs are about set and setting, your expectations and your surroundings play a huge part in your enjoyment of any drug. If you make sure you are in a good mood already and choose a place where you feel safe and secure, you can keep any possible anxieties to a minimum. It’s all common sense really.

To the best of my knowledge, no one has ever died from consuming magic mushrooms. If you have any proof otherwise, I would be interested to see it.

Your article quotes Professor John Henry, an expert in toxicology at Imperial College and St Mary's Hospital, London who states that “They clearly cause hallucinations.” May I just say in reply to that keen observation, “well duh!”. No one would ever eat them for the taste, yuck! Of course they cause you to trip, that’s their purpose and they do it very well.

People take all recreational drugs to feel differently and enjoy an altered state of consciousness. I would suggest that this is a natural craving.

Think about this: When you were a child, did you ever spin around in circles to make yourself dizzy? When you collapsed on the ground, did it feel like the world was swirling around you? Guess what? You were putting yourself into an altered state of consciousness! It was your first ever “high” and you didn’t even realise it.

Professor Henry then goes on to remark that “people suffering hallucinations (can be) killed in accidents.” I won’t argue with that, but accidents can happen even when you’re sober.

And if you want a discussion about drugs and accidents, might I suggest the good professor look at the relationship between alcohol and accidental deaths. I think he might find that the statistics for alcohol related deaths would tower over the few fatalities he believes were caused by magic mushrooms. Perhaps the professor could provide a footnote or two, as to his source for these accidental shroom-related deaths.

Anyone experimenting with shrooms should be healthy in body as well as mind, but then that is true of any drug. I wouldn't advocate someone with mental health problems trying magic mushrooms, but then I wouldn't suggest they take-up the crack pipe or heavy drinking either. If you suffer from any sort of mental illness, recreational drugs are definitely a bad idea.

Magic mushrooms can make you feel a bit nauseous, but so can drinking too much. If you eat magic mushrooms on an empty stomach, you can easily minimize or avoid this. What they can't do is make you "crazy", unless you had a tendency towards madness already. If you’re normally sane, you’ll still be sane after your trip.

Anyone considering experimentation should do a bit of homework. The internet has countless resources available for the enquiring mind. Might I suggest http://www.erowid.org/plants/mushrooms/mushrooms.shtml or this very objective page from the government’s suprisingly honest “Ask Frank” website, specifically about magic mushrooms. Here’s the link: http://www.thesite.org/youthnet/jsp/polopoly.jsp?d=163&a=217

The “Ask Frank” website is rare a example of when the government can get it right about drugs, on a whole it is quite balanced. The laws should be so lucky…we should be so lucky!

I do applaud the comments in the article made by the honourable Paul Flynn, New Labour MP for Newport West, who it seems would welcome a more sensible stance on magic mushrooms. His views demonstrate that he appears informed and open minded on the subject, rare qualities that should be nurtured in any MP.

Memo to Mr. Flynn: You’re in the wrong party! You are making too much sense. If I were you, I’d give Charlie Kennedy a call. The Lib Dems are on the up and you sound like you’d be a welcome addition to their growing opposition. Just a thought for you to consider!

I find it laughable that this government has decided to now try to change the interpretation of the law regarding magic mushrooms when there is another, more widely abused drug causing this nation far more trouble.

The drug I'm thinking of is at the root of many problems ranging from health issues to public disorder and violence. Yes, you guessed it, I am referring to alcohol.

Alcohol is by far one of the worst drugs that people abuse. It is responsible for more accidents, fights, poor health, decreased productivity in the workplace and loss of life, than any other drug. It also keeps hospital A&E's very busy every Friday and Saturday night. Just visit any town centre, any weekend, anywhere in Britain at chucking out time and you'll see what I mean. It's not a pretty sight.

If I wrote a description of booze, but omitted what I was describing, you would think the drug in question was the worst scourge on society imaginable. But because liquor is socially acceptable and dealt by large corporations, there is no chance it will ever be banned. I’m OK with that, actually since it is as it should be, down to my personal choice.

Oh hang on, didn't the Americans prohibition early in the last century? It didn't work out very well, did it? Unless you think the creation of a proper network of organised criminals is a good thing because that was the main legacy of prohibition. And it’s the gift that keeps on giving since there are entire countries whose economies are totally dependent upon the demand for illegal substances. These days they’ve gone global and “the mafia” is a proper multinational now.

Go on, we could have a real giggle and call for a ban on alcohol. It’s not like we couldn’t justify it, we could just use the same reasons they use now for illegal drugs. Change every reference from coke or weed to booze and the campaign would just write itself. I bet would be civil unrest, no wait, open warfare on the streets in no time. Let the fun begin!

I would love to see the government come up with a practical policy for harm reduction on alcohol before they start telling anyone what drugs they can and can't consume, especially my beloved, all natural, magic mushrooms. Based on the effects of consumption of both booze and shrooms in the UK, it’s pretty clear which one statistically causes more problems, isn’t it? How about we put more time and resources into combating the ills of alcohol abuse. It would make for a more pleasant nation.

At the moment, the market for magic mushrooms is quite big, demand is high and shroomers aren't hurting anyone. If the government is successful and stops the legal trade in shrooms, the demand will not disappear, it will just be driven underground. Once that happens, you can say goodbye to quality control. It will only be a matter of time before some unscrupulous dealer sells someone poison (instead of) mushrooms and we have our first real death.

All drugs should be legal, not just booze and cigarettes. It should be up to an individual what substances they can consume, not the state. I’m an adult, I don’t need a nanny.

Booze and fags are legal and will stay that way thanks to the powerful corporations who manufacture and distribute them. Other drugs should be given the same consideration. The government could accomplish more good through harm-reduction than prohibition.

Look at it this way, if crack were legal and cost the same as it does where it’s made in Colombia, it would be just pennies a day to keep an addict supplied. The price difference is down to the transport, delivery and associated risks of bringing the stuff into the UK. If it was suddenly cheap, there would be less burglary and your car stereo would never get nicked. To me, that would be a good thing.

Drugs are illegal and people still take them, the law doesn’t seem to be a deterrent. According to recently published surveys, drug usage in the UK has never been higher. We take them anyway, so isn’t it time we tried a different approach?

Look, fresh magic mushrooms are grown domestically or imported from within the European Union - the Netherlands is the main overseas supplier. I would think this government would wish to encourage an emerging market for natural produce that brings in VAT for the Chancellor. But again, this demonstrates the confusion in Whitehall. While they are trying to stop the sale of shrooms, they are still going to stick VAT on them until they do.

Aren't there bigger problems in the world than a few thousand people taking some magic mushrooms at the weekends? The government must think it is a "button issue" with Middle Britain, who quite frankly probably wouldn't have a clue about magic mushrooms.

We need to include cigarettes and alcohol into any conversation regarding recreational drugs, simply because they are the only legal ones. Like recreational drugs that are illegal, fags and booze can be bad for the individual and society, yet we tolerate them. We also, to an extent, try to moderate the problems associated with this legal duo. We need to take the same approach to other recreational substances.

The only way to accomplish this is get people to understand that fags and liquor are drugs, which would open their minds to the possibility that the law could treat other drugs the same way. Here’s hoping!

Oh and to any Home Office staff that might be reading this, PLEASE MISTER GOVERNMENT MAN, DON’T PISS ALL OVER MY PARTY! Perhaps you should just get yourself 30 grams of Mexican Psilocybe Cubensis and see why we’re all putting the FUN in FUNgus every weekend instead!

Best regards,
- the northlondonhippy
http://www.northlondonhippy.blogspot.com
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So there you go, perhaps I'll get lucky this time. I think I say some interesting things and a clever sub-editor could easily polish that into a fairly interesting essay. Let's wait and see!

I'm off to the dreamland of the hippy, where all the drugs are legal and I'm a lot taller. Maybe I'll see *you* there too. Bye
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