Denver votes on whether to decriminalize 'magic mushrooms'


Voters in Denver, Colorado are deciding on "decriminalization" of what are called magic mushrooms.

In 2004, Denver voters voted to decriminalize marijuana possession, years before Colorado voters approved its legalization for recreational use and establish a full regulatory framework. Campaign organizers, though, say their only goal is to prevent people from going to jail for possessing or using mushrooms. However, some recent research has suggested that psilocybin may be effective in treating some forms of depression.

The initiative would effectively decriminalize use or possession of psilocybin by people 21 and older, making it the lowest enforcement priority for police and prosecutors.

Both Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and District Attorney Beth McCann have voiced opposition to decriminalizing psilocybin. Users describe seeing vivid colors and experiencing powerful emotions.

Colorado was one of the first two states to legalize recreational marijuana. Those stats sucked the air out of the room at the mushroom watch party at Invisible City, a private events space in Denver, where about 200 people had gathered.

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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. Furthermore, psilocybin isn't an danger in Denver: In the last three years ultimate 11 conditions had been prosecuted, in conserving with the Unusual York Occasions.

As criminal penalties for drug use fall across the country, Denver could be setting another first. In 2005, the city became the first major city in the U.S. to legalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana, according to the Marijuana Policy Project. But in 2018, researchers from Johns Hopkins University said that psilocybin's "associated harms are low compared to prototypical abused drugs" and that it "may provide therapeutic benefits supporting its development as a new drug".

The vote was included in a ballot on Tuesday, although it wouldn't legalize mushrooms containing psilocybin, the psychoactive compound that naturally occurs in these "magic" edibles. Organizers in OR, meanwhile, are trying to gain enough support to put an initiative to a statewide vote next year.

Matthew Johnson, an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, was one of the authors of a study previous year recommending that the Food and Drug Administration reclassify the drug to acknowledge its potential medical uses and relatively low potential for abuse.