Denver Votes to Decriminalize ‘Magic Mushrooms’

By Alexa Lardieri, May 6, 2019

DENVER RESIDENTS WILL vote Tuesday on whether to decriminalize “magic mushrooms,” which contain the psychedelic drug psilocybin.

Initiative Ordinance 301 would decriminalize mushrooms in the city for personal use and possession by people 21 years and older. The initiative states that the city should make personal use and possession its “lowest law-enforcement priority” and “prohibit the city from spending resources to impose criminal penalties.”

The initiative also calls for the creation of the psilocybin mushroom policy review panel to assess and report on the effects of the ordinance.

Currently, the possession of the naturally occurring mushrooms is punishable by a fine, prison or both. Selling the magic mushrooms will still be illegal.

The active compound in magic mushrooms is psilocybin, categorized as a Schedule I substance, the same as heroin and ecstasy. However, the group supporting I-301, Decriminalize Denver, claims that people have been using mushrooms “for thousands of years for healing, rites of passage, spiritual insight, strengthening community and raising consciousness.”

Decriminalize Denver states that people continue to use mushrooms responsibly to improve their mental health and for general well-being. According to the group, the Food and Drug Administration has granted “breakthrough therapy” status to conduct studies on psilocybin-assisted treatment for depression. Other preliminary studies suggest that the compound could be used to treat alcohol and tobacco addiction, depression and anxiety.

Activists in California failed to get a similar initiative on the ballot last year, and supporters in Oregon are hoping to put the matter to a vote statewide in 2020. If successful, Denver would be the first city in the U.S. to legalize mushrooms.