If you live in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, especially Oregon, you've undoubtedly seen these mushrooms growing in damp fields and cow pastures. These are Psilocybe semilanceata, or Liberty Cap mushrooms, and they contain the psychoactive compound psilocybin, a powerful mind-altering substance.
Approach with caution, and not just because they distort your consciousness. These little nipple-capped fungi are listed as Schedule 1 drugs under the United Nations 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances, and therefore illegal to possess and distribute. The classification of psilocybin mushrooms as a Schedule 1 drug has come under criticism because they are considered soft drugs with a low potential for abuse. Local laws may be somewhat ambiguous. Either way, if you're poking around cow pies picking mushrooms, be aware of the risks involved.
In this age of the Great Drug Wars, it's difficult to find a truly disinterested observor speaking candidly about drug experiences (unless we're talking legal, socially acceptable drugs like alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco) so here is something rare: an intelligent, non-hysterical talk about magic mushrooms. The speaker is the well-respected physician and health expert, Dr. Andrew Weil, author of "Eight Weeks to Optimum Health" and other bestselling books.
Forbes on-line magazine writes: "Dr. Weil, a graduate of Harvard Medical School, is one of the most widely known and respected alternative medicine gurus. For five years, he has offered straightforward tips and advice on achieving wellness through natural means and educating the public on alternative therapies."
Here, Dr. Weil talks openly about psilocybin mushrooms without the distortion of drug war politics or puritanism clouding his report.
Andrew Weil, from "Mushroom Hunting." Journal of Psychedelic Drugs. Jan-Mar 1975: 7(1).
...Soon I had eaten 25 of the tiny mushrooms...[liberty caps in a field in Oregon]
Gradually I became aware of a strange sensation in my stomach, a sort of buzzing vibration that grew slowly in intensity. It was not at all unpleasant, and I knew at once it was the mushrooms. Over the next ten minutes this unusual feeling became stronger, filling my abdomen. Then it began to invade the rest of my body, pushing outward through the muscles to the extremities. I was distinctly aware of a subtle but powerful energy vibrating through the musculature of my whole body. It made me feel warm and strong. As it reached my head, my senses sharpened, and I found myself admiring qualities of the wet pasture I had ignored until then. The green of the grass was of glowing intensity, highlighted by tones of brown and red. The smell of the earth and rain was overpowering. I had no desire to move. If the ground had been dry, I would have stretched out and rolled on the grass.
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