Magic mushrooms seem to be the latest craze among Kerala-drug users with widespread usage being reported from its cities in recent years. According to Excise officers in the state, these mushrooms are cultivated in the hills of Ooty and Kodaikanal in Tamil Nadu and Munnar in Kerala.
Magic mushrooms are scientifically called Psilocybin mushrooms and contain the psychedelic compounds psilocybin and psilocin. Consuming it gives you a decided high, makes you euphoric and can also take you on a hallucinatory ride.
What actually works in their favour among users is that possession of these is yet to be deemed illegal in India.
Though the substance psilocin is banned in India as it comes under Schedule 1 of the Convention on Psychotropic Substances, magic mushrooms per se, however do not figure in the Centre’s narcotic list of banned substances.
“Many a times, we have received information from different parts of Kerala that students use these mushrooms in parties. But we are unable to resort to the law in this regard. These mushrooms are not categorized under narcotics by the Centre. Earlier too, we had faced a similar problem with the ‘Ketamine’ drug. It too was not covered under the schedule. Thankfully, it was later added under the abusive substance category,” shares Narayanankutty –Ernakulam Divisional Deputy Excise Commissioner- withThe News Minute.
Categorization -he says- has many limitations in such cases.
“In case of some drugs, only a mixture of two or more substances will make it an abusive substance. Hence the components of the said mixture will not find a place in the narcotic category. What is then done –in order to bypass the law- is that people store or transfer the components separately so as to ensure they operate within the ambit of the law,” he adds.
Another Excise officer from Malappuram -who sought anonymity- recounts an occasion when they had managed to seize dried magic mushrooms from a few students who were returning from a trip to Ooty.
“All we could do was seize the mushrooms and have them destroyed. We did not have a legal case against them. To make matters worse, it is quite hard to differentiate them from the edible variety of mushrooms,” he rues.
The mushrooms can easily go incognito when these are dried or powdered. This is how these are smuggled on a large scale into Kerala, mostly from Ooty. Once powdered, it becomes very difficult to even identify them as mushrooms.
As per inside sources, apart from Kozhikode and Malappuram, these mushrooms are quiet popular among youngsters in Kochi too. A 21-year old native who studies at a private college in Kodaikanal told TNM that he and his friends have always found it very easy to get them into the state and sell it.
“These are just mushrooms…and we don’t believe it is harmful to our health. It does give you a good high…so much better than drinking or smoking. Moreover, it’s proved to be a profitable side-business for us. There is nothing illegal happening here, so what is wrong in doing it?” he asks.
“We have heard that these are to be found in Munnar too, but are yet to zero in on the exact locations. Reports keep coming in about the same. Even though as of now, such mushrooms are not banned, we can always take the initiative to seize them and ensure their destruction, if found” remarks an officer from the Ernakulam Excise department.