Denver first in US to decriminalize psychedelic mushrooms

Magic mushrooms are seen at the ...
Peter Dejong, The Associated Press

Psychedelic mushrooms are seen at the Procare farm in Hazerswoude, central Netherlands, in this 2007 file photo.

Denver is set to become the first city in the nation to effectively decriminalize psychedelic mushrooms.

After trailing in results postings Tuesday night and early Wednesday, final unofficial results just posted show a reversal of fortune — with Initiative 301 set to pass with nearly 50.6 percent of the vote. The total stands at 89,320 votes in favor and 87,341 against — a margin of 1,979 votes.

Denver Elections expects to continue accepting military and overseas ballots, but typically those numbers are small.

As written, I-301 directs police via ordinance to treat enforcement of laws against possession of psilocybin mushrooms as their lowest priority.

It’s similar to measures approved by Denver voters for marijuana years before Colorado’s Amendment 64 legalized the possession and sale of that drug.

While efforts are afoot to get psilocybin-related measures on the ballot in Oregon and California in 2020, Denver hosted the first-ever U.S. popular vote on the matter, according to organizers. An earlier effort in California last year failed to qualify for the ballot.

“We’re thrilled that we made it event his far,” Initiative 301 campaign manager Kevin Matthews said earlier Wednesday, before the final results were posted — and the measure still was losing. He said he was “on pins and needles” waiting for the results.

Psychedelic mushrooms still would remain illegal to buy, sell or possess, with the latter crime a felony that carries a potential punishment of up to a year in prison and a fine. The measure simply would lower the risk users face of getting caught.

The past marijuana efforts are instructive, though. Denver voters signed off on decriminalization measures in 2005 and 2007, but that didn’t stop police from enforcing the law — though drug law-liberalization advocates say the public discussion prompted by the ballot initiatives helped pave the way for statewide legalization in 2012.

Initiative 301 calls for Denver to create a panel to monitor the effects of the ordinance.

This story will be updated.