The city and county of Denver's Elections Division is reviewing petitions for a new ballot measure.
You might see an initiative to decriminalize psychedelic mushrooms on the May ballot in Denver after advocacy group Decriminalize Denver has collected almost 9,500 signatures in a push to make magic mushroom Denver's lowest law-enforcement priority.
Petitions for the Denver Psilocybin Initiative were submitted on Monday, January 7, and will be reviewed within 25 days. The measure would "prohibit the city from spending resources to impose criminal penalties" for possession, use, and growth of the substance.
Kevin Matthews, campaign director of Decriminalize Denver, said the motivation for the measure was to keep psilocybin users out of jail. The initiative would also form the "psilocybin mushroom policy review panel to assess and report on the effects of the ordinance," similar to the panel established for marijuana.
Currently, psychedelic mushrooms are classified as a Schedule I drug under federal law, indicating a lack of medical benefits and potential for abuse. But members of the advocacy group claim the natural fungi is non-addictive and has several benefits, including reducing stress. Published research has also shown that magic mushrooms reduce depression in anxiety in cancer patients and help people beat addictions such as alcohol and smoking. And that body of research is growing.
"As the amount of research with psilocybin increases across the world, and more people hear of its significant therapeutic potential, it is only natural that more people are growing curious about it," said Amanda Feilding, founder of U.K.-based drug research organization the Beckley Foundation.
Yet, dosage for medical treatment can be unpredictable, and psilocybin can also worsen certain conditions. And it's unlikely that the initiative would lead to medical use in Denver since few clinicians have been trained to administer psilocybin. Dr. George Greer, president of the nonprofit Heffter Research Institute, said using psychedelics as medicine would require a different conversation than discussing enforcement actions for psilocybin use.
Oregon is working on a similar initiative that would come to a vote in the 2020 general election.
Do you think Denver should decriminalize psychedelic mushrooms? Why or why not? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.