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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Paul Goggins):
Section 21 of the Drugs Act 2005 will come into force on 18 July 2005. Section 21 has amended the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 so that any fungi containing psilocin or an ester of psilocincommonly known as magic mushroomsare controlled drugs. Psilocin is already a class A drugfresh magic mushrooms will be class A too.
23 Jun 2005 : Column 50WS
Magic mushrooms are a powerful hallucinogen and can cause real harm, especially to vulnerable people and those with mental health problems. The law has not been clear with regard to the status of fresh magic mushrooms and some have tried to exploit this apparent loophole. In the last two years there has been a sudden increase in the amount of magic mushrooms imported into the UKHM Revenue and Customs estimate the imports for 2004 to be between 816,000 kilograms. The Government have acted to close the loophole by making clear that it will not allow the open sale of fresh magic mushrooms. It is now an offence to import, export, produce, supply, possess or possess with intent to supply magic mushrooms whatever form they are in, whether prepared or fresh. This is a clarification of the law not a reclassification. These measures received cross party support during the passage of the Drugs Bill through Parliament.
The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs agreed that the law on magic mushrooms would benefit from clarification. Professor Sir Michael Rawlins, Chair of the Council, wrote to me on 2 June stating that "Council members accepted entirely that there should not be easy access to hallucinogenic mushrooms" and "this was a sensible move to clarify the law".
During the Commons Committee stage of the Drugs Bill, the Government undertook to bring in regulations dealing with exceptions from the offence of possession in certain circumstances. The Misuse of Drugs (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2005 are being laid before Parliament today and are due to come into force on 18 July 2005. The regulations amend the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001 to provide exceptions from the offence of possession of magic mushrooms. For example, a person will not be committing an offence of possession of magic mushrooms if the mushrooms are growing naturally and uncultivated on their premises.
Also to be laid at the same time is the Misuse of Drugs (Designation) (Amendment) Order 2005. The Order is due to come into force on 18 July 2005 and confirms legally that magic mushrooms, like psilocin, are designated as having no recognised medicinal use.
The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Mr. Peter Hain): I have received the annual report for 200405 of the Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland which is being presented to Parliament today as a Command Paper.