Australian teenagers are munching on magic mushrooms while celebrating schoolies in Bali, despite warnings about the health effects and efforts by local police to criminalise and eradicate the hallucinogen drugs.
Australian schoolies live it up in Bali’s party street, Jalan Legian. Other schoolies, not pictured, say they are still taking magic mushrooms. Photo: Nic Walker
Thousands of high school graduates have travelled to the Indonesian island for its notoriously rowdy festivities, which are expected to peak on Saturday night.
The allure of Bali is obvious – impossibly cheap booze, tropical weather and few regulations, particularly when it comes to drugs and alcohol.
Hallucinogenic mushrooms have only recently been classified as an illegal drug and police have been warning locals about selling them since early September.
But Fairfax Media has spoken to a number of Australian teenagers who have been buying and eating the drug this week with little effort.
While the signs advertising the drug that once bestrewed the area have been torn down, dealers now pester passersby on the street and cajole willing buyers to shops concealed behind local tailors and tattoo parlours.
Others will throw nocturnal youngsters on the back of a scooter and take them to a safe selling point out of town, away from patrolling police.
An 18-year-old girl from the Sunshine Coast said she had been taken to “a little room with blenders” in Kuta this week to throw down a mushroom shake.
“You … hallucinate, so like, I was looking down at cigarette ashes on the tiles for half an hour watching them change to blue and red. It looked like heaps of ants running around. It comes more three-dimensional out at you.”
She said she had also been offered marijuana, Xanax, “pseudos” and “crack”.
The Australian government issued a warning last week about the change in the law that has mushrooms illegal and reminding travellers the drug could “cause major health problems such as severe hallucinations, erratic behaviour, anxiety and even psychosis”.
Under the neon lights of Jalan Legian, Kuta’s main party drag, Fairfax Media has been offered magic mushrooms dozens of times this week. A local dealer said the going rate for a packet of mushrooms was 100,000 rupiah (about $10).
One local was handing out business cards for 24-hour delivery of “top super magic mushroom”, promising his trade was “100 per cent legal”.
Another vendor based above a Kuta tattoo parlour was enticing Schoolies with the opportunity to feed the drugs to a caged monkey.
Paul Mergard, the Bali co-ordinator of the Red Frogs schoolies volunteer service, said he had known people to hallucinate for three of four days after taking the drug and was “super pumped” it was now illegal.
“It’s been one of our biggest issues over the past couple of years because it has horrific effects on people,” he said. “Last year we had a kid running around thinking he was a lizard.”
Two years ago, a schoolie in Bali punched a woman in the face while under the influence of magic mushrooms.
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