Hallucinogenic psilocybin mushrooms are the safest form of recreational drugs on the planet, according to the latest Global Drug Survey.
While illegal to possess, sell, transport or cultivate in many countries, “magic” mushrooms are five times safer to consume than substances including cocaine and LSD, the annual study found.
The poll of 120,000 people found that only 0.2% of those who had consumed magic mushrooms over the course of the last year needed to seek emergency medical treatment as a consequence of doing so.
That rate was at least five times lower than the number of people who reported having to seek emergency medical advice after taking MDMA, LSD or cocaine.
The survey found that 1.3% of respondents sort emergency medical treatment after consuming alcohol.
“Magic mushrooms are one of the safest drugs in the world,” commented Adam Winstock, founder of the Global Drug Survey, adding that one of the biggest risks in consuming them is picking and taking the wrong type of mushrooms.
“Death from toxicity is almost unheard of, with poisoning with more dangerous fungi being a much greater risk in terms of serious harms.”
Winstock went on to explain that hallucinogenic mushrooms are not completely harmless, noting that taking them with alcohol or consuming them in unfamiliar settings could “increase the risks of harm, most commonly accidental injury, panic and short-lived confusion, disorientation and fears of losing one’s mind”.
While rarely thought of as a drug organised criminals sell, the prohibition of psilocybin mushrooms in many countries has seen some dealers seeking to profit from their sale.
In December last year, New York police arrested three drug dealers after catching them in possession of more than 113kgs of magic mushrooms.
Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said the haul was worth an estimated $2 million (€1.78 million).
The dealers were said to be selling the fungi for a few hundred dollars per ounce.
A man was arrested in the UK city of Sheffield at the end of last month after detectives raided his home and found a quantity of magic mushrooms alongside a selection of other illegal substances.
Hallucinogenic mushrooms are categorised as a class A drug in Britain, giving them the same legal status as substances such as heron and methamphetamine. Individuals caught selling them in the UK could face up to a life sentence and/or an unlimited fine, despite the fact they grow freely in fields across the country.
The UK Home Office made magic mushrooms a class A drug in 2005, prompting criticism from campaigners who argued they are harmless to human health.
“To see magic mushrooms alongside crack cocaine and heroin doesn’t seem proportionate,” the BBC quoted Petra Maxwell, a spokesperson for drugs information organisation Drugscope, as saying at the time.
“Now that they’re class A if people are found in possession the ultimate, if unlikely, sanction is seven years in prison and a fine.”