Denver passes referendum allowing magic mushrooms


Voters narrowly made Denver the first US city to decriminalize psilocybin, the psychoactive ingredient in "magic mushrooms".

After trailing in results postings Tuesday night and early Wednesday, final unofficial results just posted show a reversal of fortune - with Initiative 301 set to pass with almost 50.6 percent of the vote.

As many as 1,300 votes were yet to be counted, but Denver's Election Division declared that was not enough to swing the vote the other way and that final results would be published next week.

The initiative document states that the possession of psychoactive psilocybin mushrooms for those aged 21 and over will become the city's "lowest law-enforcement priority".

The advocacy group Decriminalize Denver submitted petitions to Denver's Election Division back in January in order to get a measure on the city's ballot during its May election that would decriminalize psychedelic mushrooms.

Psilocybin decriminalization campaign organizers have said their only goal is to keep people out of jail in Denver for using or possessing the drug to cope with depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress and other conditions. "It provides a lot of lasting benefits, weeks and months after one experience".

If these results hold up, it would at a bare minimum justify psilocybin's removal from Schedule I, a classification reserved for drugs with "no now accepted medical use in treatment in the United States" and "a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision".

The results suggest that the decriminalization of psilocybin - the drug found in magic mushrooms - is a move too radical for even Denver, a city known for its openness to marijuana.

In the lead-up to the vote, the Decriminalise Denver campaign turned to the same strategy that marijuana activists used to decriminalise cannabis possession in the city in 2005.

Passage would once again put Colorado at the forefront of American drug legalization after it became one of the first two states to vote to legalise marijuana in 2012 - though not all residents approve. But a growing body of medical research shows that psilocybin can treat conditions like anxiety and depression, in cases where drugs now on the market cannot. Users have described seeing vivid colors and geometric patterns, and experiencing powerful spiritual connections and emotions.

Last year, a similar measure to decriminalise psilocybin mushrooms in California failed to gain enough signatures for inclusion on the ballot. They collected more than 8,000 signatures to qualify for Tuesday's election.

The city is set to establish a "policy review panel to assess and report on the effects of the ordinance" per the initiative's requirements.

"Nobody should be penalized for this substance", Matthews said. Effects include hallucinations and feelings of euphoria, but the substance can also heighten a person's emotional state, causing paranoia, anxiety and unpleasant trips.



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