Denver Votes to Decriminalize 'Magic Mushrooms'

Magic Mushrooms sit in a fridge

Magic Mushrooms sit in a fridge

A citizen-led initiative appearing on ballots Tuesday follows a path that led to marijuana's legalization in Denver and later in Colorado.

Initiative Ordinance 301 would decriminalize mushrooms in the city for personal use and possession by people 21 years and older.

Adoption of the measure could signal fledgling public acceptance of a mind-altering drug, outlawed nationally for almost 50 years, that recent research suggests could have beneficial medical uses. The measure does not legalize psilocybin or permit its sale by cannabis businesses.

In January, the group was able to collect over 9,500 signatures to get the measure added to the ballot. The effects also appealed to recreational users, whose 1960s "hippie" culture continues to dog researchers seeking funding for medical work on psilocybin and other substances.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration classifies the drug as a Schedule 1 substance, meaning the agency has deemed that it has a high potential for abuse with no accepted medical application.

Users have described seeing vivid colours and geometric patterns and experiencing powerful spiritual connections and emotions. "I don't think that people should be criminalized or looked upon differently because they are required to take something that can make them feel this much better", one 54-year-old patient now using psilocybin mushrooms told CBS Denver. But there is nearly no organized opposition to the pro-psilocybin campaign, Decriminalize Denver.

Denver has voted to decriminalise the use of magic mushrooms - the first United States city to do so.

Activists in California failed to get a similar initiative on the ballot past year, and supporters in OR are hoping to put the matter to a vote statewide in 2020.

Supporters of the psilocybin initiative have done door-to-door canvassing, documentary screenings and leafletting at community events or outside Coors Field before Colorado Rockies' games. "The truth is we have no idea what the long-term health effects of these drugs are going to do to the people of Colorado", Jeff Hunt, an official at Colorado Christian University, said on CNN after the referendum on mushrooms was announced.

Mayor Michael Hancock has told the Denver Post that he opposes the mushroom question.

If passed, the ordinance wouldn't legalize mushrooms - but instead would "prohibit the city from spending resources to impose criminal penalties" for possession, according to the text. "One arrest is too many for something with such low and manageable risks for most people, relative to its potential benefits". "No person deserves this kind of treatment for a substance this safe".

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