The Mushroom Referendum: Denver’s First Step at Decriminalizing Psilocybin

decriminalizing mushrooms

The United States has a huge drug crisis. Opioids are destroying communities and families. Meth now comes in an ultra-pure form called “ice,” and synthetic drugs like K2 are creating real-life zombies. The last thing our country needs is more drugs, but apparently some voters in Denver, Colorado feel otherwise. In May, city voters were in favor of changing the local laws on psilocybin mushrooms and making them “the lowest law enforcement priority in the City and County of Denver,” according to the Washington Post.

There’s a movement in the city called “Decriminalize Denver,” led by a man named Kevin Matthews. The initiative to decriminalize mushrooms, also called the “mushroom referendum,” aims to take away most criminal penalties for the use and consumption of the drug, which obviously city police are not excited about. Mr. Matthews says the decriminalization of mushrooms allows a review panel to be able to “analyze the public safety, administrative, fiscal and health impacts of the decriminalization of mushrooms.”

Is a review panel actually necessary to analyze the potential societal impact if mushrooms are widely available and skirting the line of legality? Denver just might become a city that’s stoned and now tripping on hallucinogenic drugs.

In speaking with the Washington Post, Mr. Matthews claimed that magic mushrooms have been shown to help opioid dependence and also noted that many Americans are currently taking psychiatric medications. He also believes this may be why the FDA has given psilocybin “breakthrough status,” which seems to imply the belief that psilocybin may be a cure for drug abuse issues, dependence, and mental disorders.

mushrooms grown at home

Magic mushrooms are not legal in Denver or in any other city in the U.S. This is the beginning of an initiative to decriminalize the drug, which still means it’s illegal. Decriminalizing mushrooms, just like any other drug, merely reduces the penalty for use or possession but it’s still not a legal activity. Marijuana legalization began with its decriminalization in some states, followed by becoming recreationally legal. This may be the beginning of legalizing psilocybin, but that will remain to be seen.

Psilocybin could have devastating effects on our society. While some claim certain benefits of the drug, having part of the population in an area tripping has the potential to cause major problems. Tripping on mushrooms can cause dissociation, anxiety, panic, psychosis, and unpredictable behavior because a person under the influence of the drug isn’t rational or thinking clearly, especially if they’re having a bad trip.

It’s a bit too early to tell how this whole thing with psilocybin will turn out, so there’s no need to panic, get upset, or send strongly worded letters to Denver’s state legislature quite yet. Whatever this is, it’s in the beginning stages and I’m sure many news outlets will cover any news that comes out of it. For now, there’s a big enough problem out there that requires our attention.

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Jason Good

Jason has been working in the field of addiction and recovery for over 10 years. Having been an addict himself he brings real-word experience to the table when helping addicts and their families, while also offering a first-person perspective to the current drug crisis. Jason is passionate about educating the public about what’s currently going on in our society, and thankfully, offers practical solutions. Jason is also the co-host of The Addiction Podcast—Point of No Return. You can follow Jason on Google+, Twitter, or connect with him on LinkedIn.