Dutch ban magic mushrooms, but "trips" still sold

Mon Dec 1, 2008 4:46pm EST
 
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AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Dutch authorities banned the sale of fresh "magic" mushrooms on Monday, but enforcement was delayed by problems over how to police it.

The ban was the latest move by the Netherlands to tighten its famously tolerant policies on drug use, but shops in Amsterdam continued selling the hallucinogenic fungi.

"I'll sell them until they're sold out. I still have a few and I think that by tomorrow I'll be sold out," said Meile Schot, from the Innerspace shop in the city.

Dutch media said Amsterdam Mayor Job Cohen, the police and the public prosecution office had agreed not to enforce the ban at present. A spokesman for Amsterdam Council said it was seeking details from the government about how to police the ban.

"Amsterdam is at the moment not enforcing the ban, which does not mean it is not forbidden," the spokesman said. He could not say when the ban would be put into practice.

Hectic trading was reported over the weekend before the ban at magic mushroom-selling stores, known as "Smart Shops," Amsterdam newspaper Het Parool said.

"There are records being broken in the sale and the use," Hans van den Hurk from wholesaler Conscious in Aalmseer was quoted as saying by the paper.

Under the new measure, the production or sale of fresh magic mushrooms can lead to a maximum jail sentence of four years. Selling dried magic mushrooms is already illegal, punishable by up to eight years.

The Dutch government first proposed the ban on fresh magic mushrooms in April, citing the dangerous behavioral effects following the death of a French teenager who jumped from an Amsterdam bridge in 2007 after consuming the fungus.

A challenge to the ban was rejected by a court in the Hague last Friday, allowing for it come into effect on Monday.

(Reporting by Aaron Gray-Block; Editing by Charles Dick)

 
<p>Boxes containing magic mushrooms are displayed at a coffee and smart shop in Rotterdam November 28, 2008. REUTERS/Jerry Lampen</p>