Denver Votes to Decriminalize 'Magic Mushrooms'

By R.J. Johnson - @rickerthewriter

May 9, 2019

Denver becomes 1st US city to decriminalize 'magic mushrooms'

The walls in Denver, Colorado may be melting more often after voters passed a citywide initiative that decriminalizes psilocybin, the psychoactive ingredient in so-called 'magic mushrooms.'

The Denver Psilocybin Mushroom Initiative passed in a close vote taken Tuesday, with the 'Yes' side winning by fewer than 2,000 votes or around 50.5%. Final results will not be certified until May 16.

The initiative makes the use or possession of psilocybin by people 21 and older the lowest enforcement priority for police and prosecutors. It also establishes a review panel that will be charged with analyzing the public safety, administrative, fiscal and health impacts after decriminalizing psilocybin.

Supporters on a Facebook group called Decriminalize Denver celebrated the measure passing with a jubilant two-word post: "we won!!!"

Recent studies have shown psilocybin has positive effects for people suffering from severe anxiety, depression, chronic pain, alcohol and opioid addictions, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Psilocybin is non-addictive and there's no record of a lethal overdose on record, according to the New York Times.

The ballot measure did not legalize mushrooms, they're still barred under federal law as a Schedule I controlled substance. That means the Department of Justice policy states 'magic mushrooms' have no medicinal properties. Psilocybin was outlawed in the 1960s after it became a widely-used recreational drug. Opponents to the measure say they're worried about the city attracting more drug users and what kind of problems people high on the fungi could create - especially while driving.

The hallucinogenic mushrooms remain illegal in Denver and for the rest of the state. People caught selling them can still be charged with a felony. But, for now, possession and cultivation of 'magic mushrooms' will become the lowest-priority crime for law enforcement in Denver.

"No one should be arrested or incarcerated simply for using or possessing psilocybin or any other drug," Art Way, Colorado State Director of the Drug Policy Alliance told the Washington Post. "If anything, this initiative doesn’t go nearly far enough. Given the scientific and public support for decriminalizing all drugs, as Portugal has done successfully, we need broader reforms that can scale back the mass criminalization of people who use drugs."

Photo: Getty Images

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