LAST ORDERS FOR MAGIC MUSHROOM ENTHUSIASTS Last Orders For Magic Mushroom Enthusiasts Bad news for psychedelic fungi fans. There are just 24 more shopping days before magic mushrooms are declared illegal - and that's official. Ignoring pleas from mushroom retailers and consumers, the government yesterday announced that clause 21 of the Drugs Act 2005, reclassifying psilocybe mushrooms as a class A drug alongside heroin and crack cocaine, will come into force on July 18. From that date, importation, possession or sale of magic mushrooms will be punishable by a life sentence, effectively outlawing sales via market stalls, head shops and the internet. Laying the statutory instrument before parliament, the Home Office said the only exception would be for wild mushrooms, growing on uncultivated land. Landowners who are unaware they have a controlled substance, or who pick the mushrooms with the intention of delivering them to the police, will also be exempted. Transform, the drug policy group which has been a vocal critic of clause 21, immediately condemned the Home Office's decision, saying the exemptions did little to clarify what it considered flawed legislation. "How is someone supposed to know what is uncultivated?" asked Transform's director, Danny Kushnick. "This has nothing to do with clarifying the law or goods drugs policy. It's simply about shutting down vendors who have been selling mushrooms." The Entheogen Defence Fund, a group set up to protect the interests of mushroom retailers and consumers, said the announcement would make no difference to its campaign to have clause 21 overturned through judicial review. Declaring criminalisation of magic mushrooms a retrograde step, it predicted the reclassification would simply encourage more youngsters to try ecstasy, LSD, heroin and cocaine. "The sale of 100,000 kilos of magic mushrooms per annum has had a big impact on the reduction of the illegal use of soft and hard drugs," said EDF's chairman, Mike Bashall. "Expect more crime and more deaths related to illegal drugs." Backed by Dutch wholesalers, for whom the UK has become a lucrative export market for psychedelic fungi, the EDF has raised UKP10,000 to challenge the British legislation. It points out that in the Netherlands the sale of magic mushrooms is legal and says that clause 21 could be in breach of European Union law making it illegal to place restrictions on free trade except in specific circumstances, such as for the protection of health and life. Caroline Flint, the Home Office minister, who spearheaded the legislation through parliament shortly before the general election, said mushrooms could trigger psychosis and there was evidence users could be at risk of self-harm. However, a Dutch study found no evidence to link magic mushrooms with psychosis and said that mushrooms did not lower users' violence threshold. Since consumption usually took place at home or in the open air, "there is no inconvenience to other people," it concluded.