Mile High City to Decriminalize Magic Mushrooms?

By Christopher Coble, Esq. on May 06, 2019

Weed is legal in Colorado, and has been for quite a while. And it turns out Denver may be loosening the legal reins on another psychotropic substance: psilocybin mushrooms.

Tomorrow, city residents will vote on whether to make 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." But does that mean shrooms will now be legal in Denver?

Not quite.

The Text

Specifically, the new ordinance would:

  1. Deprioritize, to the greatest extent possible, imposition of criminal penalties on persons twenty-one (21) years of age and older for the personal use and personal possession of psilocybin mushrooms; and
  2. Prohibit the City and County of Denver from spending resources on imposing criminal penalties on persons twenty-one (21) years of age and older for the personal use and personal possession of psilocybin mushrooms.

The new bill would also create an 11-member "Psilocybin Mushroom Policy Review Panel" to assess the results of the ordinance, if enacted.

The Context

Denver would be the first city in the country to decriminalize psilocybin, but the Denver Post is quick to point out that Initiated Ordinance 301 would not legalize psychedelic mushrooms. Psilocybin is (and would remain) illegal under both Colorado and federal law as a Schedule 1 drug, and law enforcement could still target the production, distribution, and sale of mushrooms under the new ordinance.

Proponents say decriminalization could save law enforcement time and money by avoiding the arrest and prosecution of nonviolent offenders, and that some levels of psilocybin have been shown to treat mental illness. "We envision a society where individuals can use psilocybin mushrooms without fear of criminal or civil penalties," says Decriminalization Denver. "Psilocybin is shown to: Reduce psychological stress and suicidality. Reduce opioid use and dependence. Be physiologically safe and non-addictive."

Opponents, on the other hand, worry passing the initiative will only add to Denver's notoriety as a drug-friendly destination. "We're still figuring out marijuana, and even though things are going well so far, we're still measuring the impacts on the people of Denver," Denver District Attorney Beth McCann said. "At this point, I don't think it's a good idea."

We'll find out tomorrow whether the people of Denver agree.

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