|In addition, many early users of "magic mushrooms" in Australia may have first become aware of their mind-altering and visionary effects by reading the published literature or the many news items appearing in the popular Australian press during the late l960's and early l970's. These news items often described both accidental and deliberate intoxication's which resulted from the ingestion of several varieties of "magic mushrooms". For example, in 1972, one local newspaper report provided an account regarding the use of these mushrooms by young teenagers at a local high school in Brisbane: "...children at a suburban school are getting high on mushrooms called 'Gold Tops.' The mushrooms are common along the Brisbane River near Toowing High School, and children in search of `kicks' have been experimenting with them (Unsigned, 1972)." It would be very obvious to anyone who read this above mentioned news item, when it appeared in print, that those searching for hallucinogenic mushrooms would be able to find them if they so desired. There is yet another factor that may have played a significant role in promoting interest in the use of psychoactive mushrooms in Australia and NZ. Some drug users or mycophillic individuals may have read or heard of R. Gordon Wasson's personal account of his adventurous rediscovery of an hallucinogenic mushroom cult among the Mazatec Indians of Southern Mexico. Dr. Wasson reported the ceremonial use of certain mushrooms as divinatory substances among the Mazatecs and other native peoples in Oaxaca, Mexico (see Wasson, 1957). This journalistic report of Wasson's research expedition appeared in an international edition of Life Magazine in the late l950's, providing many drug users and others with the incentive to seek out, find, and eventually experiment with these mushrooms.
Only a small number of panic reactions were
known to have occurred in Norway, with some
individuals requiring temporary clinical attention.
Nonetheless, in December 1981, the mushroom
species was classified under Norwegian narcotics
law as an "absolutely forbidden substance". The
same classification applies to the potentially
dangerously addictive drugs of the heroine type,
as well as to the pure hallucinogens, such as LSD,
mescaline and psilocybin, all of which are
pharmacologically completely different from any
of the heroine-type drugs. By contrast, Figure 57
illustrates that other European nations have
attitudes similar to those found in British
Columbia, which form the basis for my own
analytical work with mushroom materials.
Compared to Norway, there is less
information about usage of Psilocybe
semilanceata from other countries. The year 1981
has been named as the starting date of usage in
Finland; by 1984, there had only been one patient
who required medical attention.
There are additional countries where the
mushrooms are being used and collected, more or
less sporadically: The Netherlands, Austria,
Denmark, Sweden, Belgium, Germany,
Switzerland, and recently Russia near the St.
Petersburg area. The mushrooms have even been
found in Siberia. In some areas, where the
mushrooms thrive in abundance, a more
comprehensive mode of usage can be observed,
without attracting much additional attention over
a longer period of time.
Costly measures, such as the deployment of
helicopters over pastures in the Jura Mountains of
Switzerland to flush out mushroom collectors have
rarely been used and were quickly abandoned.
Switzerland is another country where
Psilocybe cubensis is being cultivated and used
without attracting much attention. Below is an
account provided by a Swiss friend about his first
ever experience with this species:
Intense, kaleidoscope-like colors are being
generated. I begin to dive in and out of other
realities, followed by the painful loss of ego, death
and life. Suddenly I find myself inside a wooden
box. My body is a black mass full of low-level pain.
I have the black plague. I was put inside the box,
because I was thought to be dead, but I am still
alive. I am being carried to and placed on top of
cart so that I can be transported to be burned. Few
others are being given such a box. At first I
am in despair, but then I know that the end is near,
anyway. Death is a liberation for me. I
remember: I see my house in the city center of
Metz, where I used to live until now. Then came the
plague. My years of selfish dedication of helping
sick, degenerate, stinking, hungry and dying people.
I provide comfort and companionship, as
well as medication that remains ineffective. I
continuously make house calls, there is no end in
sight. I become ill myself. At first I deny this
fact, but now I am inside this wooden box, in a state
of semi-consciousness. I know that the