DENVER, Colo. – If Denver For Psilocybin canvassers can gather 4,726 signatures in the Mile High City by January 7th, a voter initiated ballot measure to legalize “magic mushrooms” as they’re colloquially called will be put to a citywide vote in May of 2019.
If the measure makes it onto the ballot and receives enough votes to become law, the Denver Psilocybin Mushroom Decriminalization Initiative would make the possession, consumption, and cultivation of psilocybin mushrooms for adults over the age of 21 the City of Denver’s “lowest law-enforcement priority.”
The measure would also “prohibit the city from spending resources to impose criminal penalties” for personal cultivation, possession, and consumption, as well as establish a “psiloycbin mushroom policy review panel to assess and report on the effects of the ordinance,” which would be similar to a panel that already exists for legal marijuana in the city, and would comprise eleven members, two of which must be from the Denver City Council.
Psychedelic mushroom legalization activists were hoping to get the measure onto the ballot by the November 2018 midterm elections, but ran into a series of hurdles and weren’t able to get the language of the measure approved in time.
At that time, one of the group’s leaders, Kevin Matthews, said:
“We want to make this campaign as effective as possible, which of course means having the language that would make the most sense. We decided that it was important to kind of redraft it from the ground up.”
After having the revised language reviewed by an outside legal expert and re-filing, Denver For Psilocybin has received approval from the Denver Elections Division, and now has to collect 4,726 legitimate signatures from Denver residents to make it onto the May 2019 ballot for citywide voter consideration.
“This is a landmark moment for Denver, for Colorado, and for the country. We have an opportunity here to make some real impact and change in people’s lives,” says Kevin Matthews
The delay has only seemed to embolden psychedelic mushroom legalization activists in Denver to sharpen up their legislative and activist skills, connecting with psychedelic drug activists in California and Oregon to learn from each other’s achievements and missteps.
The California Psilocybin Legalization Initiative did not make it onto the 2018 ballot in California either, with the initiative’s organizer, Kevin Saunders, saying the group would be working with lawmakers in the California legislature to pass the bill.
According to federal laws written in the 1970s under the Controlled Substances Act, psilocybin is considered a Schedule I drug, carrying the harshest federal criminal penalties, under a rubric in which Schedule I substances are those with “no accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.”
But medical science would say that federal law is outdated by decades on both counts, as medical researchers are taking psychedelics seriously for their medicinal value to treat persistent, severe depression, and to make terminally ill patients physically and emotionally more comfortable in their final days.
Psychedelic mushrooms and other psychedelic substances such as MDMA also hold so much promise for treating PTSD, that researchers believe these substances offer hope for the many combat veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress, and suicide rates markedly higher than the general population.
By contrast alcoholic beverages– which have no accepted medical use, are high risk factors in many forms of disease, have a high potential for abuse and addiction, and can even cause depression or worsen it– are not controlled substances under federal law.
Decriminalizing psychedelic mushrooms in Denver would follow in the footsteps of California, which first defied federal drug policy with the Compassionate Use Act of 1996, legalizing the cultivation and consumption of marijuana and products made from it for medical purposes with a doctor’s prescription.
This led to a cascade of marijuana legalization in states and cities throughout the country in a sea change for both drug policy in the United States and the balance of power in the relationship between the states and the U.S. federal government.