Created June 28, 2001. Revised August 3, 2009; May 5, 2013; and April 7, 2017.
Copyright 1998-2017 by John W. Allen.



Psilocybe semilanceata (the 'liberty cap.'

A section devoted to newspaper clippings, unusual articles and some psilocybian mushroom trivia


Hello and welcome to our News archives. In this section you will find a wide variety of newspaper clippings regarding the visionary mushrooms. I Started to catalogue these clippings back in 1973. All together there are more than 100 pages of news items of incidents involving psilocybian mushrooms. They are arranged They are arranged Chronologically by their dates of publication. This page features news items from the State of Oregon, USA.

I want to note that if anyone here reads the complete news items of Oregon and Washington, you will notice that from 1971 until the mid to later 1990s, a majority of the news items were rather humorous and shrooms were in their infancy and most people, included law enforcement bothered no one for picking them, outside of a few tickets and many scholars and mycological experts all agreed, even the state Police, that these mushrooms were not dangerous to anyone and wee not harmful to the thousands of daily pickers.

Since 1998 and on, the articles are more about how many people are all of a sudden getting busted, many for growing too many shrooms (some over 500 pounds at a time) and many for being stupid like driving stoned with no tags or smoking dope on the road and no license. Or making candies and doses. From the early 1970s until the mid 1980s, everyone went to the fields and picked liberty caps and it was a fun thing. Now the Law Enforcement and DEA are involved because people are selling these shrooms on the streets and in the schools. This ruins it for many of us. These news items and clippings are a valuable source of history. Please Enjoy.

Oregon: Page 1 of 5  
Friday November 7, 1975

Oregonians Get Free, Legal High With Dung Mushrooms

Portland, Oregon (AP) Young people by the hundreds, searching for a free, legal and colorful "high" are scouring Western Oregon pastures for small brown mushrooms that will provide it for them. And this year, hunting is good.

The hallucinogenic results of eating the fungus are said to resemble those of psilocybine, and for a time the word spread that that's what the mushrooms contained.

But Lt. Manuel Boyes of the Oregon State Crime Laboratory said their checks have turned up no psilocybin in the mushrooms, and said that he didn't know what the ingredient was that caused the effect.

"But if you drink a highball and eat a few of them, you can take a pretty good trip on the combination," he said, adding that he had talked to only one person who had eaten the mushrooms. "he said it was pretty weird -- something he wouldn't want to do again," Boyes related.

Last year, the first year in which the properties of the mushrooms became generally known, there were only a few hunters after them.

But the word got around, and this year, especially in Tillamook County on the north Oregon coast, hunters by the hundreds are combing cow pastures.

Cars line the highways and Sheriff Del Walpole of Tillamook County said the number of hunters this year is creating some problems.

"They're going through the farmers fences," he said. "I understand some of the farmers now are charging pickers to hunt in their pastures."

He said while most of the hunters are college age, some are in their 50s and 60s, and that most of the picking is apparently being done for resale in schools.

"I don't know how much they are getting, but I heard up to $35 for a small bag full," Walpole said.

Donald Goetz, former head of the Oregon Mycological Society, said the mushrooms are Psilocybe.

"They're a dung loving mushroom, which is why they look for them in the pastures," he said. Tillamook County has a substantial dairy cattle industry.

"If you eat 30 or 40 of them you start to see color and all sorts of things like that," he said. "Me? Oh, no, but I talked to one young man who tried it..."

November 27, 1976. Page 15B


It's Psychedelic mushroom madness time in the Pacific Northwest, and one are of particularly predominant pursuit is Tillamook County, where growing conditions are ideal.

"In the last three weeks we've had literally hundreds and hundreds of pickers," said Sgt. Harold Kottre of the Tillamook office of the Oregon State Police.

Mary Jane Pollard, who lives on a 70-acre farm near Tillamook, said, "One day I saw 50 people in one field, picking. There are lines of cars on highways shoulders. They're nuts."

Pastures are where the mind-blowing mushrooms flourish. As Mrs. Pollard puts it, "They grow out of cow manure. IT makes me sick to think about it. They're poison.>

The tiny mushrooms contain psilocybin and psilocin, chemicals akin to LSD. Too many sicken the eater.

"They eat them and then throw them back up, and that is when they see psychedelic colors, as I understand it," Mrs. Pollard said. "I've never tried it. I wouldn't."

Sgt. Kottre said, "The problem pickers pose to us is complaints of landowners. About half the property where they grow is now posted.

"When it is posted and landowners complain about trespassers, we issue citations for criminal trespassing in the second degree," he added. "We've issued several dozen. The maximum fine is $250; however, most range from #50 to $100."

Also, Sgt Kottre said, "There have been several cases of mushroom overdose's who were taken to local hospitals."

Mrs. Pollard said, "there are some farmers who are selling them and some who charge people to go into their fields and pick. I heard of one farmer who sold a one-pound bag of these mushrooms for $200. I've heard as high as $900 if they're dried."

"Some pickers climb over fences and stretch or break them," she added. "I won't let them in our field because I know what they are doing with them--selling them."

"Kids get out there with these bread bags and fill 'fill," Mrs. Pollard said. "They grow back in the same spot in six hours."

"But why ruin your body?" she said. "There are too many good things in life you can enjoy. A walk on the beach does as much for me as those would.

In Seattle, three men found picking the mushrooms near an insurance company building told officers the fungi was "good on pizza and would give you a good buzz."

Since November 10 at least 409 persons have called to asked about mushroom poisoning at the Children's Orthopedic Hospital Poison Control Center in Seattle.

Dr. Alf Pederson of the Seattle-King County Health Department said seven teen-agers recently were brought into a hospital with violent reactions to mushrooms.

"These young teen-agers have gotten into a little fad," he said. "They're taking a real risk. They could easily get into trouble with toxic mushrooms."

One boy, a suburban Seattle junior high school student, ate some hallucinogenic mushrooms and said, "It was too horrible to describe -- I'll never do it again."

When brought into the hospital he swore, struggled against restraining straps and clawed at the hospital attendants who fought to pump his stomach. He believed they were torturing him.

Another mushroom user said the fad is "growing by leaps and bounds" in the Skagit Valley about 50 miles north of Seattle.

EMERALD DAILY [of the University of Oregon]
December 1, 1976. Page 7

Mushroom Pickers Invade Oregon Woods, Pastures

Astoria, Oregon (AP) - Northwest Mushroom Experts generally agree that persons searching for hallucinogenic effects from the fungi may become violently ill because they pick the wrong kind.

Amateur mushroom pickers have invaded Northwest pastures and woodlands in recent weeks, many gathering mushrooms to create a "high" similar to the drug psilocybin.

Reports of violent illness and erratic behavior have surfaced in the wake of mushroom harvests. Two teen-age boys were hospitalized over the weekend in Lincoln City south of Astoria after drinking tea made from mushrooms.

At lest one farmer in the Astoria area is charging $5 an hour to picking rights. The mushrooms sell locally for about the same price as Marijuana, $10 to $15 an ounce.

Scientists say the most sought after mushrooms are Liberty Caps, the popular name for Psilocybe semilanceata. But it takes an expert to distinguish them from other varieties that cause illness, the experts caution.

"The effect of the intoxication is extremely variable depending a lot on the climate that the mushrooms grew in," said George Constantine, a pharmacist at Oregon State University who specializes in the toxic effects of plants.

"If a person gets real psilocybin mushrooms, he won't get sick and vomit. But there arre hundreds of these little brown mushrooms that look like these little fellows and they will make you very sick," Constantine said.

The legal status of the mushrooms also is in question.

Roger Bingemann, director of the Oregon State crime Laboratory, said only two of the 30 or 35 varieties of Psilocybe mushrooms contain psilocybin and are illegal. Lab tests have not shown the drug to be present in mushrooms found in Oregon.

January 5, 1977. Page 7.

Mushroom Pushing Proves Lucrative Living.

By Shaun McCrea

The next time you see little gray mushrooms sprouting in your lawn you may catch sight of Mitchell Henderson -- picking them. Henderson (not his real name), a soft-spoken, free and easy example of the Oregon counter-culture, is one of the many mushroom hunters in the Pacific Northwest interested in gathering hallucinogenic mushrooms. But his interest is more than a hobby, it's a profession. Henderson supports himself by selling psilocybin mushrooms. During the six to eight weeks of warm weather and heavy rain in the fall and spring, Henderson travels as-far-as the coast, searching for Psilocybe semilanceata -- one of the 17-odd-varieties of hallucinogenic mushrooms growing in the Willamette Valley.

Psilocybe semilanceata (also-called the "liberty cap) is probably the most common variety of psilocybin mushroom in the valley. One usually finds it sprouting in meadows, along roadsides and around dung after a heavy rain. A brownish mushroom with a hollow white stem and pinstripes radiating down its cap, semilanceata tends to grow in specific cycles year after year, and only appears in the fall and early spring. Other varieties appear at varying times of the year.

Henderson has been hunting mushrooms for about four years. "I began because I wanted to make a living in a creative way," he states. "Mushrooms are special because they're organic. They're a present from the earth."

The high is dependent on the quantity ingested, although about 20 medium mushrooms is the usual dose. Henderson refuses any comparison of LSD and mushrooms, claiming...."one is like being in the city -- the other like being in the country." Mushrooms are so much safer. The high ranges from pleasantly euphoric to a different consciousness altogether.

"Zoomers take you beyond the realm of normality -- they bring out things within yourself you don't expect. They give you a sense of direction or even show you a planned destination."

Henderson enjoys the folklore surrounding "magic mushrooms" (or "zoomers" as he calls them), but most of all he enjoys his success as an entrepreneur. He appears constantly relaxed, self-confident and satisfied with his chosen profession. Perhaps he has reason to be.

Although only about 2 out of every 12 fields he checks ever yield mushrooms, Henderson usually manages to harvest between seven and 30 pounds of mushrooms each expedition. At $5 an ounce that totals $80 a pound or a whooping $2,400 on a 30 pound haul. Lucrative? Yes. Dangerous? Maybe. Under Section 274 of the Oregon Criminal Code, psilocybin and psilocin (the active ingredients in the mushrooms) are illegal to transport, cultivate, possess or process, and can be considered a Class A misdemeanor (maximum sentence of one year) or a Class B felony (maximum sentence of 10 years) depending on the discretion of the court.

However, fewer arrests are even made and even fewer cases prosecuted, because of the cumbersome process involved in testing the mushrooms for psilocybin and because of the time and effort necessary to maintain the freshness of the mushrooms for evidence (they deteriorate rapidly unless frozen or dried).

Sergeant Hunter of the Eugene Police Lab sighed when asked about mushrooms. "You mention mushrooms around here and everybody groans," he said. "I don't think we've had one sample sent in for analysis this whole year."

Whatever Police policy, Henderson doesn't worry about being busted. "It's something I put out of my head," he says simply. "It would take too much incriminating evidence for them to even build a case against me."

But even if the Eugene Police are not strict in enforcing the laws on psilocybin, there are other dangers that Henderson, as well as any other perspective picker, buyer or eater must consider. First, there is a good chance of picking the wrong mushrooms. On this, Henderson-himself voices concern. "I always worry I'll pick the wrong ones," he explains. "I'm not afraid I will, but I always worry. That is why I always test my mushrooms. Even a small bit of an Amanita verna (a death angel) can make a person horribly ill or even kill them. That's also why I stick to lowland picking -- once you get up into the hills the varieties run about 90 percent poisonous.

There is also the chance the mushrooms (even if psilocybin) will make a person ill. Because peoples metabolisms differ, their bodies react differently -- sometimes with disastrous results. Reports of people in both Oregon and Washington hospitalized from the effects of mushrooms have become common this fall, and indicate that metabolism has at least some effect on a person's physical ability to assimilate mushrooms. Henderson maintains the problem is psychological not physical, although he admits that some people inevitably have problems.

"I've never had a person sick," he emphasizes, "I've had a couple people who didn't get off after eating about 20 "zoomers" and that was surprising, but I've never had anyone freak out. I did have one guy who had a hard time but that was only because he didn't have faith in himself."

A third problem relates to where a picker chooses to hunt. Often, it is on someone's private property without their permission and as such constitutes trespassing. Henderson relates a run-in of this nature. "I found hoards of mushrooms in this one last year, but as I was leaving the farmer came bounding up and told me I couldn't leave, that he'd called the police. I waited about 20 minutes, got tired of it and left. The dude, jumped in his four-wheel drive, pick-up and nudged my car into the ditch. The police came and arrested me for trespassing, but the guy never did more than press charges so it never went to court." Henderson smiles. "About 50 percent of the farmers are like that."

Conversely, Henderson cites an example of another farmer who gave him complete permission to pick mushrooms, just as long as he didn't destroy the fences or let the farmers cows loose.

Besides the fact that psilocybin mushrooms are illegal, difficult to identify and somewhat unpredictable, there are other aspects to be considered. Since mushrooms often grow in fields or meadows near dung, they tend to be unclean -- a factor that can lead to the contraction of tetanus --The probability of picking up heart worms is a lesser but still possible danger.

The number of people searching for or eating mushrooms has increased tremendously only this year. The Drug Information Center (DIC) estimates that in November alone over 200 people came in or called for information regarding mushrooms. As the popularity of consuming psilocybin mushrooms increases, so does the danger of mishap. Admittedly, there are some people who know the varieties of mushrooms, know how to test them and even how to make money out off them. Mitchell Henderson is one of those people -- but he is a definite exception to the rule. Most people simply do not have the background, knowledge or training and they are advised to either forget mushroom hunting or to at least send a sample of any mushrooms they have picked to the DIC for analysis.

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