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A New Psilocybin World Record
as the Netherlands begins to regulate Psilocybin mushrooms as a food product
by Yachaj Paye
Apr 2003
Edited & HTML by Erowid
On November 19th 2002, the Dutch Keurinsgdienst van Waren (KvW (see below), a sort of tax-funded, independent FDA for the Netherlands) published a report about the first monitoring of psilocybin mushrooms in the Netherlands as food. The KvW monitors the quality of commercially available food products (it does not monitor medicines / drugs). Because of the Dutch "Supreme Court" (Hoge Raad) decision in November, 2002 which declared fresh psilocybin mushrooms were not illegal to possess or sell (see below), it fell on the KvW to monitor the sale of these mushrooms as a food item.

There are three main aspects which make this an extremely interesting report. First, the report provides solid data about the psilocybin-alkaloid content of psychoactives sold for consumption, second, the report found the highest-ever published psilocybin-alkaloid content for a psilocybin mushroom, and third that this represents perhaps the first time in modern history that psilocybin mushrooms have been regulated as a food allowed for ingestion.

The report, in Dutch, can be found at: Some excerpts of this are included below with translations and commentary.

Monitoring and Analysis #
The KvW tested the psilocin and psilocybin content of a variety of different psilocybin mushrooms available through the Dutch smartshops. They found a huge variation in potency from no psilocybin or psilocin detected to what appear to be record levels of active alkaloids.

The KvW also wrote that the alkaloid profile of dried psilocybe mushrooms was much more stable than that of fresh mushrooms, but the same Supreme Court ruling which stated that raw psilocybin containing mushrooms are not illegal, confirmed that 'drying' makes them an illegal preparation of the mushrooms. It may be an unexpected result of the Hoge Raad's decision that the psilocybin mushrooms available for puchase on the market are far more variable than those available a few years ago.

The KvW report states that no correlation was found between the potency of a mushroom and the flushing pattern. This differs from the old Beug & Bigwood findings. This finding doesn't suprise me, however, because many others have found that the potency of a mushroom seems to be more dependent on the size (small mushrooms are generally more potent), moment of picking (the younger the better), substrate (grains produce more potent mushrooms than compost) and temperature (mushrooms are more potent at lower temperatures).

My hope is that the KvW will make its next research project to try to focus on some of the other variables to try to work towards an understanding of what is causing the huge variation in potencies. It is quite possible, with good oversight and regulation that the government could provide suggested parameters by which mushroom potency could be more standardized and consumers could expect to purchase products which are within some reasonable tolerances. Things which could be controlled would be storage temperatures, maximum storage times, acceptable substrates, etc.

World Record Psilocybin-alkaloid Content #
Perhaps the most striking element of this analysis is the fact that the report found a higher total psilocybin-alkaloid (psilocybin and psilocin combined into a single measurement) content than any previous published analysis.

To briefly summarize some of their results:

Mushroom TypePercent Active Alkaloids (Psilocin + Psilocybin)
Compost grown Psilocybe [Stropharia] cubensis0.5-0.9 percent
Compost grown Panaeocus {Copelandia] cyanescens: 0.5-2.95 percent
Psilocybe tampanensis sclerotia0.3 percent

Yes - this is no typo. In one instance, a fresh harvested Panaeolus [Copelandia] cyanescens was found to contain than almost three percent of combined psilocybian-alkaloids. A world record! Unfortunately, the PanCyan which is available in smartshops shows large variability in alkaloid content. But 2.95 percent on standard horse manure compost is quite remarkable. This finding pushes the Liberty Cap out of 1st place in the published maximum potencies (Gartz "Magic Mushrooms from Around the World" which includes a 2.2% finding in Psilocybe semilanceata). In my opinion, it is likely, at this point, that Psilocybe azurescens continues to have the highest average content, but is less variable.

Psilocybin Mushrooms As Food #
This legal and public policy shift in the Netherlands may represent the first time that psilocybin mushrooms have been regulated as a food in an industrialized nation. It stands out because even cannabis is still illegal and not subject to food-grade oversight. The placement of raw psilocybin mushrooms in the category 'consumable food items' is particularly unusual . Because officially, the active alkaloids in these mushrooms are still in the "hard drug" category of Dutch law. These drugs are defined as having unacceptably high risk for the public health and includes cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine.

In the Netherlands, ornamental plants containing "hard drugs" (mescaline containing cacti and opium Poppies) have been sold openly for many years, but no others that we're aware of have been declared OK as food.

Also, it should be noted that the KvW is not the only official organization which is now actings as if mushrooms are a legal product.. The belanstingdienst (Dutch tax ministry) taxes the mushrooms in the same category of 'luxury' food items such as caviar, for which a higher VAT is required (19 percent as opposed to 6 percent of not-luxury food items like bread, milk, vegetables an gourmet mushrooms). And again, to point out the juxtaposition with the 'soft drug' cannabis: there is no VAT on cannabis sales.

The shift in the laws and regulations certainly opens up questions about the listing of psilocybin and other substances in the "hard drugs" list. If the Dutch FDA says psilocybian mushrooms are a consumable item, the Dutch IRS says psilocybian mushrooms are a luxury food, an official government commission concluded that psilocybian mushrooms are not dangerous to the public health, and the dutch high court found that they were not illegal by law, one has to wonder how to make sense of the law placing psilocybin/psilocin in the most controlled 'hard drugs' list.

Notes #
KvW : Keuringsdienst van Waren The Keuringsdienst van Waren is not politically controlled by the government. It is funded by tax money but it acts as an independent body to check if the food which is available in restaurants, in stores, by street vendors (etc.) is safe to eat. Everything which is legally sold for the purpose of consumption can be the subject of research by the KvW.

Dutch Supreme Court Decision Legalizing Fresh Psilocybin Mushrooms The Hoge Raad decided that the cultivation of Psilocybe mushrooms is not 'manufacture' of psilocybin. This corresponds with the 'Commentary on the convention of psychotropic substances'. The court wrote: "Neither the crown of the peyote cactus nor the roots of the plant Mimosa hostilis nor Psilocybe mushrooms themselves are included in Schedule 1, but only their respective principles, mescaline, DMT and psilocin"). This same text was recently refered by a US court in the recent ayahuasca UDV case in New Mexico My guess is that this text is going to be very important the coming years.

For more information, see Dutch Psilocybin Mushroom Notes.

Text & Translation of KvW Report #
Conclusion text in Dutch: In sommige verse Panaeolus cyanescensmonsters werd een veel hoger totaal psilocine gehalte aangetroffen, dan in de smartshops bemonsterde gedroogde variant (2.5 % tegen 1.5 %). De vorm, waarin de psyco-actieve stof aanwezig is (psilocybine of psilocine) is, is bij dit paddo-type geheel willekeurig. Dit geldt zowel voor de verse alsook voor de gedroogde monsters. De Psilocybe cubensis mexican, al dan niet gedroogd, had een totaal psilocine tussen 0.5 en 0.9 %, deze waarde lag voor de verse Psilocybe cubensis thai slechts marginaal lager 0.5 - 0.7 %. In de Psilocybe tampanensis (truffel) werd een totaal aan psilocine van ca. 0.3% gemeten. De gemeten percentages psilocybine en psilocine in de al dan niet gedroogde paddo's komen overeen met de waarden, die in de literatuur worden vermeld.

Alleen de incidentele maar erg hoge psilocybine en psilocine gehalten (en dus ook het totale psilocinegehalte) in versgeplukte Panaeolus cyanescens zijn opvallend. Uit het onderzoek is bovendien gebleken, dat de psycho-actieve stoffen in verse paddo's, behalve in de Psilocybe tampanensis, veel minder stabiel zijn, dan in de gedroogde vorm. Het hallucinerende effect neemt door afbraak van de beide psycho-actieve stoffen sterk af.

English Translation:

In some fresh samples of Panaeolus cyanescens, a much higher total psilocin content was found, compared to the samples which were taken at a smartshop (2.5% compared to 1.5%). The form in which the psychoactive compound is present (psilocybine or psilocine) seems to be totally at random in this mushroom. This is true both for the fresh as for the dried samples.

The Psilocybe cubensis 'Mexican', fresh or dried, had a total psilocin content of between 0.5 and 0.9 percent. For the Psilocybe cubensis 'thai' this was only marginally lower (between 0.5 and 0.7 percent). In the Psilocybe tampanensis (truffle) a total psilocin content of 0.3 percent was found.

[Yachaj Paye's Comment: 0.3 percent in sclerotia is *low!* I bet that this is because in the past some smartshops sold a mixture of grain spawn and sclerotia as 'truffles'. The sclerotia are more potent than the spawn]

The measured percentages of psilocybine and psilocine in the fresh and driedmushrooms are in correspondence with the figures which are found in the literature. Only the incidental and very high psilocybine and psilocine levels in freshly picked Panaeolus cyanescens are remarkable.

[RenŽ's Comment: say the least. According to the KvW figures, a fresh PanCyan can be more potent than a dried one. Since mushrooms contain an average of 90 percent water, a freshly picked PanCyan can be more than 10 times as potent as a dried one. This species isn't only record holder in potency, it may also hold the world record in becoming impotent. This mushroom has a very fast metabolism!]

The research showed also that the psychoactive compounds in fresh mushrooms, with the exeption of Psilocybe tampanensis ('truffle') are much less stable than in dried form. The hallucinogenic effect decreases rapidly due to the decomposition of the psychoactive substances.

Dutch-language General Section of Report: 'Algemeen'
Paddo's (paddestoelen met hallucinerende werking) behoren tot de oudste bekende tripmiddelen. De handel (via smartshop's) en het gebruik van geestverruimende paddestoelen zijn sinds 1995 in Nederland sterk opgekomen. De laatste tijd lijkt echter het gebruik van paddo's al weer over zijn hoogtepunt heen te zijn [7.15].

De actieve (geestverruimende) stoffen in paddo's zijn psilocine en psilocybine. Beide stoffen staan op lijst 1 van de Opiumwet en worden derhalve als harddrugs beschouwd. Het kweken van psilocybine en psilocine bevattende paddestoelen met de bedoeling deze te bereiden, te bewerken en te verkopen (enzovoorts) is een strafbare handeling in de zin van artikel 10a van de Opiumwet en is dus strafbaar. De handel in verse paddo's en kweekbakjes voor het kweken van paddo's is echter niet verboden, deze activiteiten vallen onder de Warenwet. In een onderzoek naar de risico's die deze paddo's vormen voor de volksgezondheid, kwam de door het ministerie van VWS ingestelde commissie Cošrdinatiepunt Assessment en Monitoring nieuwe drugs (CAM) tot de conclusie, dat deze als gering moeten worden ingeschat. Reacties bij acute toxiciteit blijven beperkt tot paniek- en angstaanvallen. Bij chronische toxiciteit kan hoogstens het optreden van flashbacks worden genoemd. Er is bovendien geen sprake van lichamelijke of geestelijke afhankelijkheid [7.15].

Bij de afdeling Signalering van de KvW Zuid is in het kader van het project "Handhaving en monitoring in de smartshopbranche" een analysemethode ontwikkeld, waarmee de gehalten psilocine en psilocybine in paddo's bepaald kunnen worden. In 2001 werd een onderzoek naar paddo's in de smartshopbranche uitgevoerd. In twee perioden van 3 maanden (maart t/m mei en september t/m november) zijn er tweemaal 20 monsters paddo's voor een monitoring bemonsterd. In deze monsters werden met de nieuw ontwikkelde methode de gehalten psilocybine en psilocine bepaald. Het doel van deze monitoring was om een duidelijk beeld van de actuele situatie in de smartshopwereld te verkrijgen (b.v. vers/gedroogde paddo's, voorkomende gehalten aan psilocine en psilocybine in paddo's, soorten paddo's etc.). De resultaten van deze marktverkenning kunnen in de toekomst als basis dienen om eventuele hogere gehalten aan psilocine en psilocybine in paddo's, verkregen door het toepassen van veranderde kweekmethodes, te onderkennen.

English Translation of the 'General' Portion of the Report
Paddo's (hallucinogenic mushrooms) belong to the oldest known mind affecting drugs. The trade (via smartshops) and the use of mind expanding mushrooms has been on the rise in the Netherlands since 1995. Recently however the consumption of paddo's seems to be on the decline.

The active (mind expanding) substances in paddo's are psilocine and psilocybine. Both substances are at List 1 of the Opium law and are so considered to be hard drugs. The cultivation of psilocybine and psilocine containing mushrooms with the intend to prepare them for consumption, to put them into foods and to sell them (etcetera) is a punishable act in the sense of paragraph 10a of the Opium Law and is therefore illegal. However, the simple trade of fresh paddo's and substrate filled cultivation trays is not illegal. These activities are covered by the Warenwet (law of goods), which states that the KvW has to monitor 'goods'.

[Comments by Yachaj Paye: get ready for some judical hair splitting. But read on because it is very interesting - it shows the Dutch tolerance policy at work. The Trimbos Institute of the Dutch Ministery of Health has published a flyer about the effects of psilocybin and of paddo consumption, the flyer is included with the paddo purchase at smartshops, just in case that the customer intends to ingest them (ingesting an illegal compound is not illegal in the Netherlands, only possession is. So you may buy a psilocybian mushroom with the intent to consume it but not distribute it for that reason.

Officially, whoever sells psilocybian mushrooms must include a label which states that they are illegal to sell the mushrooms for the purpose of ingestion. It is a strange interplay of regulations which result in a smartshop owner not being allowed to sell the mushrooms for consumption (by the Ministry of Justice), but strongly encouraged to include details about consuming them by the Ministry of Health. Producers are only allowed to sell mushrooms for the purpose of satisfying the market. There is no problem in cultivating mushrooms for a high psilocybin content - as long as it is not for intended for consumption, preparation for consumption, et cetera. But the Keuringsdienst van Waren (which means 'Inspection Agency for Goods') is licenced, even obliged, to monitor the quality of 'goods'. In daily practice, the KvW concentrates on consumable goods. And they decided that whatever the reason may be for which these mushrooms are sold, they have to monitor the quality. And the buyer may be interested in the psilocin/psilocybin content, since 'psilocybin' is the most important word on the label.

Anyway, thus the KvW begun monitoring the mushrooms, and treat them like any other product that needs monitoring. So there is no formal declaration that the paddos are 'foods'. They merely decided that the paddo's would be monitored as if they are, so that the KvW couldn't be sued by angry customer. Sorry. I mean of course that they did it so that they can document the specifics of any health-related details about paddos. But let's go on with the text translation: ]

In a survey of the risks which these paddo's cause to the public health, the Minister of Public Health installed the commission Cošrdination Point Assessment and Monitoring new Drugs (CAM). The CAM concluded that the risks of psilocybian mushrooms are low. Acute reactions are no more severe than having a scary experience. No chronic toxicity was found. And no signs of physical or mental addiction was found.

The KvW's southern monitoring department has developed a method of analysis for monitoring the concentration of psilocine and psilocybine in paddos, as part of their 'Maintenance and monitoring in the smartshop branches' project.

In 2001 a survey into paddo's in the smartshop branche was accomplished. During two periods of 3 months (March until May and September until November) are two times 20 samples taken of paddo's for the purpose of monitoring. In these samples we used our new method to determine the psilocin and psilocybin content. The purpose of this monitoring was to get a clear picture of the actual situation in the world of smartshops (for instance fresh/dried paddo's, existing concentrations of psilocine and psilocybine in paddo's, available species of paddo's etcetera). The results of this marketsurvey may lay the basis for recognizing possibly higher concentrations of psilocine and psilocybine in paddo's, obtained via the application of other cultivation methods in the future.