~Why did the mushroom get invited to all the parties? ~ Because he was a fungi.~

On Tuesday, May 7th, citizens of Denver, Colorado voted “yes” on an ordinance that decriminalizes Psilocybin, the hallucinogenic compound in “magic mushrooms.” The ordinance passed by an extremely narrow margin with 50.56% voting in favor of decriminalization and 49.44% voting in opposition.

Although the substance remains illegal, decriminalizing Psilocybin means that Denver has lessened criminal penalties associated with the drug. Specifically, the ordinance deprioritizes imposing penalties on people twenty-one years or older in possession of or using “magic mushrooms” in a personal use capacity and prohibits the City and County of Denver from spending resources on imposing criminal penalties. It does not, however, decriminalize the sale of “magic mushrooms.”

The ordinance also creates a “Psilocybin Mushroom Policy Review Panel” consisting of eleven members, including a certified addictions counselor, a representative of the Denver Police Department and a criminal defense attorney. The Panel will meet at least quarterly and will ultimately present a comprehensive written report including recommendations concerning public safety, public health and the fiscal impacts of the ordinance to be presented at the first City Council Committee Meeting in 2021.

Psilocybin is considered a Schedule I drug, defined by the Drug Enforcement Administration as a drug with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. Marijuana is also classified as a Schedule I drug. Denver activists pushed the enactment of the ordinance claiming that there could be medical benefits like those supposedly associated with the use of medical marijuana, such as reducing psychological distress and suicidality.

Oregon is following closely behind the Denver initiative. Activists there are currently collecting signatures in an attempt to get a similar law on the state-wide ballot in 2020. The proposal involves the same reduction in criminal penalties and related expenses as the Denver ordinance. Proponents there are also focused on the claimed medical benefits of “psilocybin-assisted therapy” that would allow licensed manufacturers and dispensaries to administer the hallucinogen to certain adults, much like medical marijuana programs.

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