Wild mushrooms replacing shabu?

Psilocybin mushrooms are believed to have the same effect as that of shabu and other banned susbstances. But authorities have yet to release a definitive study on its purported psychedelic effects. (Photofusion/UIG via Getty Images)

By: Jennifer P. Rendon

Is the lowly wild mushroom becoming an alternative to shabu and marijuana in light of the brutal war on drugs?

The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA)-6 regional office said it has yet to receive reports of wild mushrooms being used by youngsters who want to get “high” sans risking arrest.

The Department of Education (DepEd) recently raised alarm on reports that some high schools used wild mushrooms or psychedelic mushrooms because of its hallucinogenic properties.

There were also reports claiming that some students were hospitalized after consuming wild mushrooms.

But as of now, PDEA-6 regional director Alex Tablate said their office has yet to release a confirmed scientific study on the narcotic effects of wild mushrooms.

Psilocybin mushroom, also known as magic mushroom or psychedelic mushroom, belongs to the polyphyletic group of fungi that contains psilocybin and psilocin.

Various online reports discussed the effects of psilocybin and psilocin.

“When psilocybin is ingested, it is broken down to produce psilocin, which is responsible for the psychedelic effects. Psilocybin and psilocin create short-term increases in tolerance of users, thus making it difficult to abuse them because the more often they are taken within a short period of time, the weaker the resultant effects are.”

Psilocybin mushrooms have not been known to cause physical or psychological dependence or addiction, the reports added.

The physical effects tend to appear around 20 minutes after ingestion and will last approximately 6 hours. The effects may include nausea, vomiting, muscle weakness, drowsiness, and lack of coordination, though many of them can be attributed to mold and or mildew that may accompany the drug when purchased through black market means and not grown in sterile or clean growing environments.

Further, “as with many psychedelic substances, the effects of psychedelic mushrooms are subjective and can vary considerably among individual users. The mind-altering effects of psilocybin-containing mushrooms typically last from three to eight hours depending on dosage, preparation method, and personal metabolism. The first 3 to 4 hours of the trip are typically referred to as the ‘peak’—in which the user experiences more vivid visuals, and distortions in reality. However, the effects can seem to last much longer to the user because of psilocybin’s ability to alter time perception.”

Meanwhile, Tablate said the PDEA laboratory service has an ongoing study on the chemical elements of some plants.

But Tablate said he is not aware if wild mushrooms are part of the study.

Even if wild mushrooms have psychedelic effects, “as long as it is not considered or classified as prohibited drugs, we can’t make any arrests,” he said.

Tablate clarified that arrests could only be made if the plant of chemical is included in the “list of drugs included in schedule” under Republic Act 9165 (Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002).

In the meantime, Tablate said all they could do is to advise the public about the possible effect of using wild mushrooms.

If ever it indeed alters a person’s psychological make-up, the long-term solution is to have mushrooms classified as prohibited drugs.