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Mobtown Beat

Bad Trip

Fells Point Mushroom Bust Snares a Guns-and-Drugs Convict

George Victor Kraft

By Van Smith | Posted 11/19/2008

Purveyors of psilocybin mushrooms--the kind that send users into psychedelic, sometimes hallucinogenic states--tend to share the peaceful, feel-good reputation of the hippy drug they sell. Still, they are illegal drug dealers, since the magic mushroom is a controlled dangerous substance under federal law. But non-recreational, guided use of the drug is accepted among some in mental-health and spiritual circles—including at Johns Hopkins University, where an ongoing series of studies suggests prescribed psilocybin use can bring positive changes to peoples' lives. So it's easy to see those who sell it simply as relatively harmless merchants of mind expansion rather than as hardened criminals.

Based on what happened in Fells Point last Friday evening, Nov. 14, though, the mushroom trade has its bad seeds. That's when, according to a federal complaint filed Nov. 17 by a postal inspector [pdf], a shipment of mushrooms arrived via an Express Mail package at a rowhouse in the 300 block of South Ann Street. George Victor Kraft retrieved the package and was arrested and charged with possession with intent to distribute psilocybin. Kraft may have dreadlocks and he might wear beads (see photo), but his record suggests he's not all about peace, love, and understanding. He's already wanted in Sacramento for parole violations on a 2000 California drugs-and-gun conviction, and has theft and attempted armed-robbery convictions in Maryland from back in the 1990s.

According to Maryland U.S. Attorney's Office spokewoman Marcia Murphy, Kraft had his first appearance in federal court on Monday, remains detained by federal authorities, and has no further court appearances scheduled at this time. Murphy, asked whether her office has brought mushroom cases in the past, answers in an e-mail that she's "not sure," adding that "I can't recall any in recent years, though."

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Tags: psilocybin, drugs, shadow economy

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