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Naive and inexperienced people should be wary of the consequences of using magic mushrooms, both health-wise and legally, Dunedin police say.
The comment followed the arrests of four people, two young men aged 19 and 20 and two 17-year-old girls, who were charged with possessing a Class A drug after they were caught picking magic mushrooms in Brockville Park in Dunedin yesterday.
Senior Sergeant Steve Aitken said the group was caught with a quantity of the mushrooms in plastic bags after a member of the public noticed them picking the fungi about 7.30am and called the police.
People needed to be aware that magic mushrooms contained an active ingredient called psilocybin, which could have some ‘‘extremely bad side-effects'' on the taker, ‘‘including death'', Snr Sgt Aitken said.
‘‘People think 'cool, it's free, I'll try it', but the risks really outweighs the pleasure or the benefit.''
Possessing a Class A drug could also result in a six-month jail term or a fine of up to $1000, he said.
Magic mushrooms only grew for a few months, about this time of year. Each year, police dealt with about 20 people, either caught picking the mushrooms or selling them.
The maximum penalty for selling a Class A drug was life imprisonment.
The four people arrested were granted bail. Their case will come before the Dunedin District Court next week.