Denver Decriminalizes Psilocybin Mushrooms
Denver will become the first city in the U.S. to effectively decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms, a hallucinogen also known as “magic mushrooms” or “shrooms.” The decriminalization is a product of Initiative 301 (I-301), which was found on the ballot for Denver voters on May 7th of 2019. This kind of revolutionary vote isn’t new for either Denver or the state of Colorado. In 2012, Colorado led the nation in becoming one of the first states along with Washington to legalize marijuana for recreational use.
Initiative 301 makes the personal possession of psilocybin mushrooms among people 21 and older the lowest possible law enforcement priority in Denver. I-301 also prohibits the city from spending money and resources to pursue criminal penalties related to the use or possession of psilocybin mushrooms among people 21 and older. It’s important to note that the initiative doesn’t legalize magic mushrooms; they still remain illegal under state and federal law. It doesn’t decriminalize or deprioritize enforcement against the distribution and sales of psilocybin mushrooms either — all of that could still be pursued by police.
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What Are Psilocybin Mushrooms?
Psilocybin mushrooms are a hallucinogenic substance that induces feelings of euphoria and distortion of perception in consumers. The mushrooms usually start to have an effect within 30 minutes after consumption and last between four to six hours. Psilocybin mushrooms are considered to be a Schedule I drug by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). According to the DEA, Schedule I drugs are not approved for medical use and have a high potential for abuse and dependence.
The physical and mental effects of the mushrooms can vary between people, but common side effects include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Muscle weakness, lack of coordination
- Panic attacks
- Transcendental experiences
- Visual distortions or disturbances
In extreme cases, overdose on the mushrooms can cause psychosis and even death.
Clinical research has explored the potential medical benefits of psilocybin on conditions such as depression, anxiety disorders, addiction, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Although many studies have revealed evidence that posits psilocybin as an alternative to traditional methods to help manage these conditions, there are multiple limitations to each study. Many of those published are small and not applicable to larger populations. Due to the nature of the hallucinogen and the fact that it was administered only under very controlled conditions in these studies, the drug continues to be considered non-medicinal and is outlawed for use in the United States.
The Voting and Results
Voting on the measure began in Colorado last month and mostly concluded this past Tuesday; however, the state does do mail-in voting so a very small number of overseas and military votes may still be coming in.
A “yes” vote on the initiative was in favor of making the adult possession and use of psilocybin mushrooms the lowest law enforcement priority in Denver and prohibiting the city from spending resources on enforcing related penalties.
A “no” vote was a vote against making the adult possession and use of psilocybin mushrooms the lowest law enforcement priority in Denver and prohibiting the city from spending resources on enforcing related penalties.
According to unofficial results, the measure was ahead 50.6 percent to 49.4 percent, a margin of just 1,979 votes out of a total of the 176,661 counted. When considering mail-in voting, results could still change. Official results will be certified on May 16th.
What Comes Next For Denver?
What effects that psilocybin decriminalization will have on Denver, Colorado, and the United States as a whole, remain to be seen. Proponents of the I-301 measure hope that the drug will be more widely accepted by society and become an adequate alternative to antidepressants for Coloradans struggling with depression and anxiety. Those that oppose the initiative fear for Colorado’s reputation and tourism industry; some are calling Denver the “illicit drug capital of the world” and believe that families will want to stop frequenting the city because of this. America will simply have to wait and see what the long-term pros and cons that the decriminalization will have.