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article imagePolice mistake shiitake mushrooms for illegal magic mushrooms

By Kim I. Hartman     Jul 15, 2011 in Crime
Walterboro - Drug trafficking charges have been dismissed against a South Carolina man after laboratory testing proved the 'magic mushrooms' police seized from the man's home were actually shiitake mushrooms.
Edward Spearman, 30, of Walterboro, was charged in May after police investigators mistakenly identified the mushrooms found growing in his home as an illegally grown psychedelic variety of mushroom.
The confusion began when police received a call of 'suspicious activity' at the home where Spearman lived. A neighbor reported seeing two strange men leave the residence through an opened side door and notified police. When the officers from the Walterboro Police Department arrived they entered the door looking for suspects when they allege they saw a pipe on the table, along with a baggy containing a few grams of marijuana.
Police officers obtained a warrant to search the premises. They found supplies used to grow mushrooms, including lights, grow containers, a few blocks of wood used to hold the mushroom spores, a High Times magazine, mason jars, a water pump, some strange looking liquid, and a syringe labeled 'psilocybin', according to Colleton County Live5News.
Officers contacted the State Law Enforcement Division's Joint Enforcement Team, who responded to the residence and seized "lab equipment and large quantities of mushrooms in various growth stages." Police also confiscated a liquid concoction of what appeared to be some sort of mead.
Spearman, who was not at home at this time, contacted Walterboro attorney Scott Harvin when he was heard about the search of his residence and the seizure of the equipment he claimed to be using to grow a legal and edible mushroom. Spearman surrendered to police and was charged with felony drug trafficking for the alleged 'magic mushroom' growing operation and possession of marijuana, a misdemeanor.
Harvin's attorney claimed police acted too quickly in the case assuming that his client was violating the law when they charged him with a crime. He said the laboratory test results on the substances seized would exonerate his client. But this didn't stop the South Carolina Forestry Commission, Spearman's employer, from placing him on suspension from his job.
Shiitake mushroom growing block.
Shiitake mushroom growing block.
Frankenstoen - Wikipedia
Harvin said his client was a horticulturist and a mushroom aficionado who grew the fungi for food. He also claimed Spearman "was a back-to-nature kind of guy" who brewed his own beer. He said the man did have a mushroom growing operation in his home, except they were legal mushrooms, shiitakes. Harvin told the Post and Courier, "They chose to charge him and then wait for the drug test results to come."
When the laboratory tests were complete, no illegal substances were found in the samples taken from Spearman's home and the trafficking charges were dismissed, according to an order written by 14th Circuit Solicitor Benjamin Shelton, reports the Post and Courier. "The chemical analysis and accompanying forensic examination reports of all substances found in Defendant's home show no controlled substance to be present," it said. "Thus, the State is unable to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt."
Spearman's attorney said he questions the legality of the search warrant police officers used to re-enter the residence and seize the legal mushroom growing equipment and supplies. Police say the marijuana possession charge is still pending and no other information is available at this time.
More about Magic mushrooms, shiitakes, Drug trafficking, Drug charges, Psilocybin
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