'Magic mushrooms' take root in Hanoi

By Ba Do   June 17, 2020 | 12:20 am PT
'Magic mushrooms' take root in Hanoi
Psilocybin mushrooms are seized by police of Cau Giay District, Hanoi, June 7, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Son Phuong.
A 19-year-old man was arrested by police in Cau Giay District earlier this month for growing psilocybin mushrooms, which he sold online.

Nguyen Tran Tuan Phuong, a freshman at the School of Biotechnology and Food Technology at Hanoi University of Science and Technology, told the police on June 7 he taught himself how to home grow the mushrooms.

This is the first time psilocybin mushrooms have been found in Hanoi since the drug was first detected in Vietnam in 2018, said the anti-drug police department under the Ministry of Public Security.

Psilocybin mushrooms, also known as magic or psychedelic mushrooms, contain psilocybin and psilocin, chemical compounds capable of inducing euphoria, hallucinations, perception changes and a distorted sense of time, among other effects. The mushroom is either regulated or outright prohibited in several countries and territories for its potential for substance abuse.

In 2015, 292 types of narcotics and precursors were found in Vietnam. Three years later, the number reached 559.

"The figure could increase even more as criminals adapt production methods for new strains yet to be banned," said a representative of the anti-drug police department.

Each year, about 1,600 people die of drug overdose in Vietnam, with hundreds of millions of dollars spent on both narcotics and rehab facilities. The country registered over 10,000 new drug users last year, raising the total number to more than 235,300, Deputy Minister of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs Nguyen Thi Ha said at a conference last week.

Vietnam, which treats drug addiction as a "social evil," is a key trafficking hub for narcotics despite having some of the world’s toughest drug laws.

Those convicted of possessing or smuggling over 600 grams of heroin or more than 2.5 kilograms of methamphetamines face capital punishment. The production or sale of 100 grams of heroin or 300 grams of other illegal narcotics is also punishable by death.

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