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NIH Record - National Institutes of Health

Law Enforcement Seizes More ‘Shrooms’

Brightly colored, glowing mushrooms standing upright

3D illustration of psilocybin mushrooms

Photo: Kateryna Kon/Shutterstock

Law enforcement seizures of “magic mushrooms” or “shrooms” containing the psychoactive component psilocybin increased dramatically in the U.S. between 2017 and 2022. A new NIDA study cited the number of law enforcement seizures rising from 400 in 2017 to nearly 1,400 in 2022. In addition, the total weight of psilocybin mushrooms seized by law enforcement increased from 500 pounds seized in 2017 compared to 1,800 pounds in 2022.

Researchers found that most seizures occurred in the Midwest, followed by the West. The greatest total weight in seizures came from the West, followed by the South. Investigators found total seizure weight peaked in 2021.

The analysis, published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence, was led by researchers at NYU Langone Health, New York City, and the University of Florida, Gainesville. Data used for the analysis were collected through the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas grant program that is administered by the Office of National Drug Control Policy. 

Psilocybin mushrooms fall under a broader drug category known as psychedelic and dissociative drugs, which can temporarily alter a person’s mood, thoughts and perceptions and cause hallucinations. 

Adverse effects include distorted thinking, perceptual changes, putting oneself in physical danger, and intense feelings of fear, anxiety and confusion. Users of psilocybin may also experience short-term side effects such as raised blood pressure and heart rate, agitation, confusion, vomiting or nausea, which may be severe and require medical attention. 

Psilocybin is not currently approved by FDA for treatment of any condition or disease. Any research on psychedelic drugs as a potential medical treatment is done in a controlled environment, under tight supervision, with follow-up sessions.

“We are in the middle of a rapidly evolving cultural, media and legal landscape when it comes to psychedelics, and we need data to help shape informed and appropriate public health strategies,” said NIDA Director Dr. Nora Volkow. “Moving forward, we must continue to track data on the availability of psychedelics, patterns in use and associated health effects to guide efforts in promoting accurate education and reducing potential harms among people who do plan to use psychedelic drugs.”

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