Denver voters approve psilocybin mushroom decriminalization
It’s no hallucination — Denver will become the first U.S. city to effectively decriminalize the possession and personal use of psilocybin mushrooms.
Denver voters approved Initiative 301 on Denver’s May 7, 2019 ballot by a slim margin — 50.6 percent in favor to 49.4 percent, according to the Denver Post. The official results of the vote will be certified on May 16.
“It’s a signal to the rest of the country that at least here in Denver we are ready to start remove some of these substances off the controlled substances list,” Kevin Matthews, who organized the decriminalization campaign, told USA Today. “A lot of people who signed our petition said they are tired to see people going to jail over what they choose to put in their body.”
Per the ballot item’s text, the initiative makes “the personal use and personal possession of psilocybin mushrooms by persons twenty-one (21) years of age and older the city’s lowest law-enforcement priority.” The initiative also prohibits the city from “spending resources to impose criminal penalties for the personal use and personal possession of psilocybin mushrooms by persons twenty-one (21) years of age and older.”
The initiative also establishes a psilocybin mushroom policy review panel to assess and report on the ordinance’s effect, according to the terms of the measure.
Psilocybin, the hallucinogen found in what are also called “magic mushrooms,” has been classified as a Schedule 1 controlled substance by the federal government since 1970, according to USA Today. Marijuana, which Colorado legalized in 2012, is also a Schedule 1 drug.
Decriminalize Denver, the group that led the petition effort to put Initiative 301 on the city’s ballot, says that psilocybin has been shown to reduce anxiety and depression, has helped in treating addiction and has alleviated symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Reuters reports.
The Denver Green Party, the Libertarian Party of Colorado and the group Veterans for Natural Rights supported the psilocybin initiative, according to BallotPedia.
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock reportedly opposed the initiative, NBC reports. Beth McCann, Denver’s district attorney, also opposed it.
“I’ll say this: We’re looking forward to creating a positive relationship with city officials,” Matthews said, per the Post. “We have the resources ready to make sure the Justice Department, the (district attorney’s) office and the Denver Police Department have the education they need to implement this in a way that’s fair.”