In a move that could have a far-ranging impact the medicinal application and cultural understanding of psychedelics, Denver voters decriminalized psilocybin mushrooms this week with the narrowest of margins. While the vote won’t be certified until May 16, Denver will become the first city in the United States to decriminalize psychedelic “magic” mushrooms.
Though the ballot initiative seemed like a failed effort for the city Tuesday, the vote made a stunning comeback when Denver officials released the final vote counts. A thin majority of 50.56% was enough to approve Ordinance 301. According to the Denver Post, that translates to 89,320 votes in favor with 87,341 against, which amounts to a 1,979 margin.
“It’s been one hell of a 21 and a half hours,” Initiative 301 campaign manager Kevin Matthews told the Post. “If these results hold, this is an example of the absurd comedy of the great metaphor. Against all odds, we prevailed. This is what happens when a small team of dedicated and passionate people unite under a single idea to create change.”
While the vote doesn’t legalize psilocybin mushrooms, it does effectively prevent police from prosecuting or arresting adults for possessing them. In essence, the measure instructs police to look the other way regarding mushrooms. This does not preclude any and all penalties on mushrooms, however. Buying or selling mushrooms would remain illegal, though the official ballot language allows locals to grow the fungus for personal usage.
Denver serves as trailblazer yet again for what is an aspiring movement across the country. Johns Hopkins University recommended magic mushrooms be rescheduled from a Schedule I drug, while actions by the FDA suggest the psychedelic could be a legal medicine by 2021. Oregon, meanwhile, aims to legalize mushrooms in the 2020 Election.