Recently, we could read about the police’s warning against consuming magic mushrooms on NRK. The warning was based, among other things, on one man’s bad experience with magic mushrooms, the risk of engaging in risky behavior while under the influence, and the risk of picking mushrooms that are highly poisonous. We believe that the police should refrain from warning against the least risky drugs.
Sometimes, there are special situations where it is important for people to listen to the police’s warnings, such as when new deadly drugs appear or counterfeit pills are being sold in Norway. The police risk people not listening if they continue to publish warnings against magic mushrooms. Magic mushrooms are minimally toxic and not addictive.
When the liberty cap was classified as a narcotic in 1981, there was no assessment of its potential for harm. Today, the criminalization of a Norwegian mushroom that grows freely in nature seems illogical and incomprehensible. In the Netherlands, one can buy truffles with psilocybin over the counter. The police officer interviewed in the case mentions the increased risk of exposing oneself to dangers while under the influence, but magic mushrooms like psilocybin have been ranked among the safest recreational drugs. It is extremely rare for people to end up in the emergency room under the influence of magic mushrooms.
It is great that the police inform about the presence of highly poisonous mushrooms in Norwegian nature, but when they mention mushrooms, it is important that they make people aware that there are different degrees of toxicity. Here, NRK had a golden opportunity to collaborate with a mushroom expert to create a visual overview of the spore-bearing mushrooms’ look-alike species (such as psilocybe subcoprophila, dung roundhead, white dunce cap, and inocybe mushrooms) and the deadly mushrooms that grow in Norway (death cap, destroying angel, deadly webcap, fool’s webcap, chestnut dapperling, deadly skullcap, and girdled dapperling).
Thousands of Norwegians are interested in magic mushrooms. A Norwegian magic mushroom group on Facebook grows every year and now has over 7,000 members. On Netflix, it is not uncommon to come across TV series that have at least one episode where someone talks about or consumes magic mushrooms, such as the series «Love». This established interest in magic mushrooms means that the media should feel a responsibility to contribute to the safest possible use.
When the police issue a warning to the entire population against magic mushrooms due to the possibility of having a negative experience, it is as if they warned everyone against:
- alcohol, because some drink so much that they get lost.
- caffeine because some may have sleep problems.
It is better to talk about responsible drug use instead of warning against all use. The police do not have particularly good knowledge about drugs, so they should not give advice in that area. But they can utilize such opportunities to ask people to read up on rusopplysningen.no/psilocybin. On the website, for example, one can learn that:
- it is safest to start with very low doses, for example, 0.05-0.1 grams of dried magic mushrooms.
- with high doses, there is a greater chance of experiencing transient anxiety and confusion.
- inexperienced users should have an experienced and preferably sober friend present.
When NRK chooses to write an article about a person’s negative experience with drugs and the possible unwanted effects one can get from a drug without mentioning any positive qualities, NRK risks the content of the article being dismissed as fear-mongering propaganda.
Many have probably heard that psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, can have some positive qualities. Some are interested in magic mushrooms, among other things, because the fungus can provide a feeling of closeness to nature, increased empathy, a more open personality, and induce so-called mystical experiences. Although one can also experience transient confusion and anxiety, the use of psychedelics like magic mushrooms is not associated with worsened mental health. This article calls for a discussion on whether psilocybin and other psychedelics can contribute to positive lifestyle changes.
We believe that magic mushrooms are among the 10 drugs in the world that people should be least concerned about using.
- Ane Ramm, next-of-kin
- Anne Helene Tveit, psychologist
- Bea Flygel, living at home
- Bengt Waldow, lawyer
- Camilla Ysland, mother-of-three
- Carine Elisabeth Howells, retired from the tram, Sporveien
- Christian Øie, drug policy activist
- Christoffer Schjelderup, comedian and podcaster
- Dag Andreas Torp, activist
- Dag Wollebæk, political scientist
- Daniel Gunnesmæl, drug policy activist
- David Nutt, professor at Imperial College London, author of «Psychedelics – The revolutionary drugs that could change your life – a guide from the expert»
- Emil Bjørnstad Belgau, chairman of Tryggere Ungdom (Safer Youth)
- Ester Nafstad, religious historian
- Grete Antona Nilsen, social worker and grandmother
- Hege Røsåsen, mother of young children
- Heidi Hagen, paralegal
- Henrik Hays, researcher and social educator
- Håkon Mathias Sterling Danielsen, lawyer
- Ina Roll Spinnangr, president of Tryggere Ruspolitikk (Safer Drug Policy)
- Iren Magnussen, social worker
- Lena Solli Sal, bereaved and vice chairman of Vestfold and Telemark Tryggere Ruspolitikk (Safer Drug Policy)
- Joachim Strandberg, drug policy activist
- Jon-Ove Flovik Olsen, author of «Politiet og Narkotika»
- Jørn Kløvfjell Mjelva, chairman of Psynapse
- Ketil Lund, lawyer, former chairman of ICJ Norway
- Knut Røneid, next-of-kin and bereaved
- Liese Recke, psychologist
- Linda Vidala, artist
- Live Sevaldson, child welfare officer
- Marion Westli Johannesen, social worker
- Mikkel Ihle Tande, editor
- Mohammed Basefer, comedian
- Nikolai Berglihn, a.k.a. NI-TECH
- Peder Støre, veterinarian
- Rebekka Lossius, psychologist
- Roar Mikalsen, leader of AROD (Alliance for Rights-Oriented Drug Policy)
- Tania Randby Garthus, police superintendent
- Thomas Kjøsnes, next-of-kin, father of three, writer
- Trond Birkedal, political commentator
- Wenche Wærner, next-of-kin and drug reform activist
- Øystein Langeland, local politician, activist and former teacher