Truffles, which are also known as Philosopher's stones or sclerotia, have replaced of shrooms as the main item sold in Dutch smartshops. Shrooms were banned in December 2008, and the new law specifically outlaws "mushrooms" of various species. A truffle, which can be eaten raw just like shrooms, is officially not a mushroom or toadstool, and can therefore still be sold legally over the counter. Naturally the sale of truffles has increased dramatically since mushrooms were outlawed. An owner of a smartshop in Amsterdam comments: ''When shrooms were banned our sales radically plummeted. But because Philosopher's stones remained legal, we didn't have to close our shop."
The main difference between truffles and shrooms is the way they are grown, namely under ground instead of above ground. They are currently grown in large facilities, or can even be grown at home.
Because most tourists aren't aware of last year's ban, they keep asking for shrooms. Smartshops then suggest Philosopher's stones as an excellent alternative. Because the active components are the same as those of shrooms (namely psilocin and psilocybin), the effects are indistinguishable. One simply has to adjust the dosage to reach the same level.
A normal dosage is between ten and fifteen grams, which is generally neither too weak nor too overwhelming. But tourists who have no experience with psychedelics are advised to keep the dosage between five and ten grams.
There are only a few strains of mushrooms that produce truffles, but their effects are all the same: a tendency to giggle and laugh, philosophical, psychological or mystical insights, and visual experiences like seeing nature in a brand new way or, with eyes closed, seeing intricate, brightly colored patterns.
The name "Philosopher's stones" can be attributed to the interesting thought processes that often come up in the course of a trip.
According to a spokesperson of the rehab institute Jellinek there is no risk of becoming addicted to truffles and the risk for public health is low: "As long as smartshops give provide good information to those who have little experience, we don't have any problem with the sale of truffles."
In our own shop in Amsterdam we recommend first time users to eat the truffles (generally 10 grams) in a quiet place with nice music in the background and wait for the effects. If one feels comfortable with the effects, one may then go outside, for example to the Vondelpark, to chill out there. We also provide all our customers with a brochure which contains several more useful recommendations.