Denver, Colorado is First City in U.S. to Decriminalize Psilocybin Mushrooms

In a nail-biting vote, Denver voters narrowly approved the decriminalization of psilocybin mushrooms, making it the first municipality in the U.S. to do so. Because the vote was so close, on May 8, major media platforms reported that the ordinance had both passed and failed, but once all votes were tallied, the bill inched forward and passed.

Ordinance 301 was approved by 50.56 percent votes in favor of removing penalties for psychedelic mushrooms. Instead of outright legalizing psilocybin mushrooms, with regulated sales, the bill blocks the city from prosecuting adults 21 and over who possess or cultivate them. It also makes psilocybin prosecution the city’s lowest priority.

The “Our victory today is a clear signal to the rest of the country that Americans are ready for a conversation around psilocybin,” Kevin Matthews, director of Decriminalize Denver told NPR.

Like cannabis, psilocybin mushrooms remains a Schedule I substance at the federal level under the Controlled Substances Act. There are many purported medical benefits of psilocybin mushrooms, while under Schedule I, none of those benefits are recognized by the federal government like cannabis. Microdosing them may be beneficial in controlling treatment-resistant depression. Matthews himself explained that they helped him in his own battle with depression. Psilocybin mushrooms may also be beneficial in improving the chances of quitting tobacco use.

While the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) doesn’t focus on personal possession crimes, DEA officers will continue to prosecute possession and trafficking. The ordinance also calls for a panel to study the effects of change after decriminalizing mushrooms.

Psilocybin mushroom-related emergency room visits are extremely rare. Society is beginning to see psychedelics—which include cannabis—in a new way. Their benefits may outweigh the risks. There are over 200 species of “magic mushroom” psilocybin varieties that are found in the wild on every continent except Antarctica.

 

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