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Many people enjoy immersing themselves in nature while hunting for wild-growing mushrooms. There are also many people who enjoy the psychoactive and therapeutic properties of the psilocybin mushroom. A 63-year-old man named Paul Lee Corbett happens to exist at the intersection of those passions. In fact, he has spent many years of his life thus far studying and exploring the natural world. He even hiked from Alaska to British Columbia and back again, a 1,600 mile hike. During that time, he discovered the many uses of psychedelic mushrooms, including psilocybin.
Unlike many aficionados of the fungus commonly known as “magic mushrooms,” Corbett didn’t try to grow them. Instead, he hunted for them in the wild. He began picking these wild-growing mushrooms in 1972. Sadly, that resulted in his arrest back in November of 2016. He got caught picking hallucinogenic mushrooms in Cape Disappointment Park in Washington. He believed the specimen he discovered was an unidentified subspecies, and he hoped to study and analyze it in detail later.
The mushrooms in question were large and red, growing in a wood chip pile. There was a sign warning that picking the mushrooms could lead to criminal citation, but the devoted forager ignored it. He also found a more common form of the mushroom growing nearby. He picked ten of the standard mushrooms and ten of the unusual ones. He put them in his vehicle and then turned back to pick more. Then a park ranger arrived, brandishing a firearm.
Eventually, Corbett was arraigned on charges of felony possession of a controlled substance. He now faces up to five years in prison and a fine of as much as $10,000. He was offered a plea deal with a year’s probation, but that would be impossible. His partner, Joyce, uses medical cannabis to reduce her narcotic painkiller intake. If he accepted the plea and went on probation, he couldn’t even live in the home with her while she used cannabis.
Corbett maintains that he did not commit a crime. He is currently in the process of raising funds to cover the costs of a competent and supportive attorney. He has already raised the $1,800 he needs to secure professional medical testimony at his trial.
Everyone here at Ladybud agrees with Corbett’s assertion that he should not face jail or criminal charges for picking mushrooms. Although states are starting to look at decriminalizing these fungi, Corbett needs support now. Many groups, including the Portland Psychedelic Society and Psymposia are helping promote awareness of his arrest and pending charges. Please consider donating to his fund by clicking here or sharing this story broadly on social media to help him raise awareness and support for his case.
For previous Ladybud coverage of psilocybin, click here.