Reform zeroes in on pulouaitu and tagamimi

By Joyetter Feagaimaali’i-Luamanu ,

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Mushroom head (pulouaitu).

Mushroom head (pulouaitu). (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

The Samoa Law Reform Commission is seeking to include synthetic drugs such as mushroom head (pulouaitu), logo (daturas) as illegal drugs in the new drugs framework they recommend to be implemented. 

This should be part of the overhauling of the Samoa Narcotics Act 1967 given its outdated. 

This was confirmed by their latest report on drug reforms released in December last year. 

According to the 163-page report on the classification of narcotics under Samoa’s Narcotics Act, other substances and plants with similar effects as marijuana and other drugs, for example mushroom head (pulouaitu) and logo (daturametel) are considered. 

The report says the psychoactive substances and synthetic drugs (i.e. party pills) are not covered under the Act. 

The preliminary research by the Commission found that common illegal substances including methamphetamine, morphine, cannabis, opium, heroin, codeine and many amphetamine-type substances are adequately covered under Classes A, B and C. 

 “However, a significant issue raised during preliminary consultations was the common use of other substances and plants in Samoa which are known to have life threatening effects. 

 “For example, the use of the logo plant/tagamimi (daturametel), mushroom head (pulouaitu), and laced cigarettes. 

 “Such substances are known to have been widely used in the rural areas, which have resulted in a number of health-related (mental) problems and even deaths in some situations. 

 “The mushroom head is known in Samoa as an umbrella-designed fruiting body of particular fungi.

 “This fungi is believed to have been introduced in Samoa together with cattle during the last century and is now found widely distributed across the Samoa. 

 “Pulouaitu is usually gathered from agricultural pastures having grown on cow dung (taepovi) where their caps are removed and steeped into boiled water to produce a black juice which is mixed frequently with coffee.” 

According to the report,  alternatively some Samoans either consume mushroom caps raw with coca cola, or leave it to dry up for smoking. 

 “Also the consumption of mushroom heads leaves the consumer feeling an inception of euphoria culminating visual and auditory hallucinations that may last up to seven hours.

 “Such consumption can also cause loss of voluntary muscle function. It is important to note that the current legislation classifies magic mushroom as psilocybin which is a Class A drug (which bears a similar effect as mushroom head). 

For the logo or tagamimi in Samoan refers to the plant genus commonly known as daturas with large trumpet -shaped flowers either white, yellow, pink and purple in colour, all members of this genus have hallucinogenic properties with leaves and seeds bearing hallucinogen alkaloids with the angel’s trumpet, the horn of plenty and the jimsonweed being the most prominent of its members.

 “In Samoa, the logo plant is commonly found along stream banks, on the edge of the forests and even on roadsides.” 

The report also indicates how the local alternative substance commonly known as the logo or tagamimi (daturametel) can be classified. 

 “Furthermore, the use of other substances such as kerosene and benzene to lace tobacco has raised concerns among some health professionals because it has led to issues of mental health.

 “Further, this has prompted the idea as to whether such substances should be covered under the law.” 

The Commission sought submissions on the adequacy of the current classification system, other drugs to be covered not contained in the schedules and how often these schedules should be updated. 

The report says that new drugs and their impacts should be included in the classification of drugs in the new drugs framework. 

 “For example to include the logo plant and the mushroom head as a prohibited plant. 

 “According to some submitters, these local plants are consumed solely for the high it imparts on the consumer.

 “For some, this is a concern because they are becoming more popular among the young people.” 

© Samoa Observer 2016

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