Are “Magic Mushrooms” Considered Drugs in India?

Are Magic Mushrooms Illegal “Drugs” in India?

The International Business Times just reported on a “drug cartel of magic mushrooms.”  There seem to be two reasonable interpretations of this article.  The drug cartel is either (A) selling something other than mushrooms (mushrooms being legal) or (B) NOT breaking any laws.

The article reported that “The drugs are being home-delivered to people and a few hotels have been supplying to its customers….”

Based on this description, “the drugs” appear to be “magic mushrooms.” Moreover, the author, Prakash Upadhyaya, appears to understand the difference between mushrooms and isolated chemical compounds.

Mr. Upadhyaya clearly distinguishes magic mushrooms from the magic molecules inside them.  He notes, “‘Magic mushrooms’ have psychedelic compounds including psilocybin, psilocin, and baeocystin.”  See also “Taking Pure Psilocybin is Different from Eating Magic Mushrooms” and “What molecules are in “magic” mushrooms?”

Mr. Upadhyaya also distinguishes mushrooms from drugs in the following passage: “Magic mushrooms… are known to have a psychedelic effect similar to that of drugs.”

Although distinguishing mushrooms from molecules seems like a trivial technicality, it can be important.  For example, the article notes that “… the ‘magic mushroom’ is not banned under Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act in India although substances like Psilocybin and Psilocin are illegal under the same act.”

Continued Need to Distinguish Magic Mushrooms from Magic Molecules

After reading this article several times, we are still confused on the following issues:

  1. Are magic mushrooms “drugs” or are they mushrooms containing “substances” that are “drugs”?
  2. How can substances like Psilocybin and Psilocin be illegal while the ‘magic mushroom’ comprising those molecules is not illegal?  Perhaps the molecules are illegal in the isolated or purified forms?
  3. If “the ‘magic mushroom’ is not banned,” then what wrong is being done by “the drug cartel of magic mushrooms”?
Magic mushrooms contain many different molecules. Several of those molecules are psychoactive. Psilocybin is currently the most talked about of those psychoactive molecules.
Unfortunately, the media continues to confuse (a) Mushrooms with (b) the molecules in those mushrooms. This is an important distinction when discussing potential therapeutic products.