Denver activists work to decriminalize mushrooms
Initiative could appear on May election ballot
Denver has recently been making national headlines with the new effort to decriminalize a particular type of “magic mushroom” or the psilocybin mushroom. The Psilocybin Initiative is currently the effort of activists of Decriminalize Denver, whose adage is to “keep people out of prison and keep families together.”
Decriminalize Denver has received over 9,000 signatures on their petition for the ordinance of decriminalization to appear on May’s election ballot. The advocacy group is working for the decriminalization of adult possession, clarifying in the full text of their proposed initiative that to be considered adult possession, the person must be at least 21 years of age. “Our initiative will decriminalize the personal possession (no limit) and personal use of psilocybin mushrooms in the City and County of Denver,” stated Kevin Matthews, Campaign Director of Decriminalize Denver.
Currently, psychedelic mushrooms are considered, by law, a Schedule I drug. Other drugs in that same category include LSD and heroin, meaning that they currently have no accepted medical use and are at high risk for addiction.
Despite the lack of currently accepted medical uses, studies being put on around the country by John Hopkins University, Hefter Research Institute, NYU, and various other institutions are finding therapeutic uses for the psychedelic component of the mushrooms. Others outside of the medical field are doing the same on their own. For example, author Michael Pollan’s release How to Change Your Mind delves into the science behind the use of psychedelics as medicine.
“I became involved with the campaign because psilocybin has been a catalyst for me to heal from major depression—it enabled me to create a new perspective about life and make better choices for myself and my family,” Matthews stated.
“We have a systemic crisis in our country. Addiction and depression rates are rising faster than the medical community and law enforcement can respond, and current treatment options are inadequate,” Matthews added. “Imagine a society that promotes research and education over incarcerating individuals for consuming an organic compound that has been proven to promote healing.”
Decriminalize Denver’s website states: “Psilocybin, the active ingredient found in psychedelic mushrooms, has been shown to be effective at treating various disorders and diseases, including: Existential distress associated with terminal illness, treatment-resistant depression, alcohol abuse and tobacco addiction, cluster headaches, and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.”
However, the findings can be difficult to reproduce due to the difficulty of varying doses. Dr. George Greer of Hefter Research Institute claims there are only a handful of qualified and trained clinicians that are formally trained to administer psilocybin—none of which, he informed CNN, are present in Colorado or Oregon. A similar initiative will be present on the 2020 general election ballot in Oregon.
As of Jan. 7, the group had submitted their initiative to the Denver Elections Division. The division has 25 days from the day of submission to verify that at least 4,700 of the almost 9,500 signatures are from registered Colorado voters. Despite the efforts, The Denver Post and Rolling Stone disclosed that “the use and sale of psychedelic mushrooms would remain prohibited if the measure passes; however, possession of the drug in Denver will ‘become the lowest law-enforcement priority and [bar] the use of city resources to impose penalties.’”