A novel type of illegal mushrooms with potent narcotic substances are becoming increasingly common and can be obtained with ease in Ho Chi Minh City, posing a newer threat to the health of many young people.
Psychoactive mushrooms were first offered for sale in Vietnam about two years ago, with Hanoi becoming the primary source of the fungi, also known as psilocybin mushroom, for buyers in the southern metropolis.
Many users of the mushrooms, colloquially called ‘magic mushroom’ for their dramatic mind-altering effects, said the plants were rapidly consumed as soon as they found their way to the Southeast Asian country.
Authorities said magic mushrooms, found worldwide especially in South America, contain the powerful stimulant of psilocin, which is forbidden in medical and everyday use in Vietnam.
Middlemen who received magic mushrooms from Hanoi said the new fungi induced visual hallucination and attendant strange experiences of weightlessness but warned that excessive consumption may lead to stupor and delirium.
“I’ve used the fungi many times. After chewing them for several hours, you’ll find everything around you becoming a fantasy world with brilliantly colorful things,” a middleman said.
For magic mushrooms fetching higher prices, usually around VND600,000 (US$26) per one time of use, the effects can appear after a much shorter time, between 20 and 45 minutes.
|Magic mushrooms are sold in bags. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
The middlemen were willing to deliver magic mushrooms to buyers on the street and give advice on their use.
One recommended eating the mushrooms raw in a closed-door room while another said they should be chewed carefully before being swallowed with orange juice.
Traders in psychoactive mushrooms said the plants’ spores can be purchased in a plastic box at VND600,000-700,000 ($26-30) or in a pair of hypodermic syringes that contain a certain liquid mixture at VND1 million ($43).
Quick financial benefits drive the magic-mushroom-growing business.
With the expenses, usually coupled with costs on air-conditioning and water in summer, a grower can receive an income over eight times the seed money only after one month of spawn cultivation, said one of the traders, who was ready to provide tips on the home-based practice.
|Spores of magic mushrooms are kept in a fluid mixture inside hypodermic syringes. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
A man who offered to sell magic mushrooms on social media said the plants’ spores were always in short supply these days.
News of the popularity of such mushrooms, first in the northern port city of Hai Phong, circulated widely social media in July, before the national drugs agency requested police nationwide to carry out measures to clamp down on the emerging narcotic-like mushrooms.