Lord Rea (Labour)
My noble friend said at Second Reading that magic mushrooms could have damaging, hallucinatory effects equivalent to those of LSD. That is certainly not my clinical experience. LSD can cause alarming hallucinations that may have lasting effects. But I have never met anyone who has come to any harm from the use of magic mushrooms. The house in which I used to live when my boys were growing up backed on to Hampstead Heath. They frequently went on magic mushroom foraging expeditions with their friends. Neither they nor their friends had anything other than pleasurable experiences as a result.
I shall cite an e-mail that I received from a probation officer recently. Other noble Lords may have had the same message. It states:
"Being a probation officer, I have helped people who have been addicted to alcohol, ecstasy, cannabis, heroin and crack. But I never met a person who has been addicted to magic mushrooms. They are totally non-addictive and grow naturally. Why ban them?".
Indeed, following up what the noble Lord, Lord Cobbold, said, how can you ban something that grows naturally on UK soil?
My noble friend also said in her speech that clarifying the status of fresh magic mushrooms as a controlled drug will, "we hope"—she said—decrease the trade. I suggest that that is unlikely to occur. In fact, the trade will go underground into criminal hands; the strength will probably be increased and unknown. As both the noble Lords, Lord Mancroft and Lord Cobbold, said, it will occupy police time unnecessarily, as is the case with other controlled drugs. As other noble Lords have said, it would do no harm just to drop the clause, if the Government must have the Bill.