Denver, the first major American city to legalize recreational marijuana -- when the entire state of Colorado legalized recreational cannabis in 2014, that is -- may soon become the first major American city to decriminalize psilocybin "magic" mushrooms, Huffington Post is reporting.
In May, Denver voters will head to the polls to cast a "yay" or "nay" vote on the Denver Psilocybin Initiative, which would decriminalize - not legalize - the mushrooms. Specifically, the bill would make possession and personal use of the fungus "city's lowest law-enforcement priority."
That does not mean that it will be legal to openly buy and sell the mushrooms in the city's dozens of legal pot shops -- or anywhere else, for that matter. It just means that Denver cops aren't going place a large focus on policing mushroom users and busting them for possession.
Kevin Matthews, who helped spearhead the initiative, says -- via the Independent -- that existing drug laws don't recognize the fact that Denverites know the risks of the mushrooms and prefer the therapeutic benefits over the risks.
"There are a lot of people throughout our country that want to see the drug policy laws change around psychedelics and psilocybin in particular. There's a lot of support, and now that we're on the ballot and this is official, we have a real chance here to have this national conversation."Still Illegal Under Federal Law
Whether Denver voters vote to decriminalize the fungus or not, psilocybin mushrooms are illegal under federal law. Specifically, they, like cannabis, are Schedule I drugs, as listed on the Controlled Substances Act, meaning the feds have deemed that they have "no medical benefit" and are, as a result, no different from crack or heroin.
However, over the past decade, several states have legalized marijuana, in one form or another, and the position of the federal government -- since the Obama administration -- has been to largely not interfere in state pot laws, a policy continued by the Trump administration. Whether or not the feds will look the other way at Denver's decriminalization of psilocybin mushrooms, should the initiative pass, remains to be seen.
Decriminalize Denver, which supports the initiative, says on its website that the therapeutic benefits of psychedelic mushrooms are beyond question. Specifically, the group says that users have experienced reduced depression and suicidal thoughts. They also argue that the fungus helps combat opioid use and dependence and that the use of the mushrooms is "safe and non-addictive."
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock says he opposes the measure, however.