Senator Win Gatchalian raised alarm over reports that some high school students were hospitalized for using psychedelic mushrooms or ‘magic mushrooms’’ as illegal drug substitutes.
“We need to enhance drug prevention education and strict monitoring in schools,” said Gatchalian, chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture.
DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones last week reported that some high school students are turning to psychedelic mushrooms which are easily accessible in rural areas. The DepEd chief added that these mushrooms could be more dangerous since they are not forbidden by law.
“What DepEd told us that some children fell ill due to magic mushrooms is so alarming. We need to know more,” said Gatcalian.
He said that he needs to know how many children are into this alternative drug.
“How did the students find this? Where does this proliferate? Amd what were its effects to students?” he asked.
He added that if they are informed of the details, it would be easier for them think and implement solutions to ensure the safety of the youth.
Psychedelic mushrooms contain psilocybin, a substance that falls under Schedule I of the United Nations’ Convention on Psychotropic Substances in 1971, which the Philippines ratified in 1974.
Drugs and substances that fall under Schedule I are not used for medication and have a high potential for abuse.
Among the undesired acute effects of psilocybin are muscle weakness, drowsiness, lack of coordination and fatal poisoning.
Despite the risks associated with psilocybin mushrooms, some studies abroad also suggest that psilocybin may provide therapeutic benefits supporting its development as a new drug.
The Global Drug Survey 2019, which generated data from more than 120,000 people in 30 countries, found that only 0.4 percent of participants reported seeking medical treatment after using magic mushrooms.
“What is important at this point is to protect our youth from the danger of the magic mushrooms. Now that DepEd is checking on their preventive education program, it is important to look how this can be tackled in an effective manner wherein the youth can be safe,” Gatchalian said.
The DepEd started providing drug prevention education in 2016 specifically to those in Grade 3 or aged nine.
Last year, the DepEd rolled out detailed lesson plans as part of its efforts to integrate drug prevention education in the curriculum.
Now, there are ongoing efforts to align to international standards.