Denver Becomes First City US City To Decriminalise 'Magic Mushrooms'

Denver Becomes First City US City To Decriminalise 'Magic Mushrooms'

Kerry Wise
May 12, 2019

Denver is poised to become the first city in the nation to effectively decriminalize psychedelic mushrooms.

The initiative, led by Decriminalize Denver, passed by 1,979 votes when the voting tallies for Initiated Ordinate 301 were released on Wednesday.

Tuesday's referendum, which was the first United States public vote on magic mushrooms, asked voters if the personal use and possession of the drug should be the city's "lowest law enforcement priority".

In the lead-up to the vote, the Decriminalise Denver campaign turned to the same strategy that marijuana activists used to decriminalise cannabis possession in the city in 2005. In 2016, Denver became the first city in the U.S.to allow customers to use cannabis in private businesses, including bars.

Kevin Matthews, director of the Decriminalize Denver campaign, said psilocybin has helped him deal with depression for years.

"This is not something you have to take every day", the 33-year-old Denver native said. But even in Colorado, one of the first states to legalize recreational marijuana, this was considered a long-shot test of how much appetite the public had for rolling back the drug war.

For decades, magic mushrooms have been attractive in certain religious practices due to their powerful hallucinogenic effects, and the substance has since gained mass appeal in terms of recreational use.

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But according to Decriminalize Denver, the group behind Tuesday's ballot initiative, psilocybin has a wide range of medical benefits.

The federal government argued that psilocybin - and all Schedule I classification drugs - have high abuse potential and no accepted medical value. Recently scientists discovered that their key ingredient, psilocybin, helps treat anxiety in people with cancer and provides a possible "miracle cure" for depression - at least, when "micro-dosing", taking gradual, incremental doses over time.

Psilocybin has been outlawed in the US since the 1960s, and some researchers warn that it should only be used under medical supervision and can prompt paranoia and anxiety.

Users have described seeing vivid colours and geometric patterns, and experiencing powerful spiritual connections and emotions.

Those same effects have appealed to recreational users dating to the 1960s counterculture movement.

The initiative is opposed by denver Mayor Michael Hancock along with District Attorney Beth McCann, but there has been no effort against decriminalization.