Are Psychedelic Mushrooms The Next Legalization Frontier After Cannabis?

Twenty-nineteen could be the Year of the Magic Mushroom. In Denver efforts are currently underway to get voters acquainted with and in support of psilocybin, the compound that makes magic shrooms, well, magical. Research has begun, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has registered its interest.

Denver voters are about to go on the trip of a lifetime.

In May, they’ll get a chance to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms within the city with a vote, according to the Denver Channel. And they apparently really want the vote: The Denver Elections Division certified a petition Friday from activists that got more than 5,500 signatures.

If successful, Denver would be the first jurisdiction to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms. Psilocybin ― the chemical substance in the mushroom that makes you trip ― is a Schedule I narcotic in the eyes of the federal government.

“The Denver Psilocybin Mushroom Decriminalization Initiative submitted a sufficient number of valid signatures and the question will be placed on the May 7, 2019, Municipal Election ballot,” said Joe Szuszwalak of the Denver Elections Division.

Shrooms—along with essentially every other drug, psychedelic or otherwise—have had a bad rap ever since the hazy hippie days of the ’60s. However, last year, researchers from Johns Hopkins University made headlines when they recommended that the FDA reclassify psilocybin as a Schedule IV drug, alongside drugs like Xanax and Tramadol that have a low risk for abuse. The researchers also said that psilocybin could have therapeutic benefits, which we’ll only discover if more research is conducted.

Kevin Matthews, 33, campaign director for Decriminalize Denver, said worries about expanded drug use under the measure are unwarranted.

“Nothing on our ballot question would do anything to increase access – it does not allow for distribution and sale,” Matthews told in a phone interview, adding that mushrooms have helped treat his depression.

Mayor Michael Hancock told the Denver Post that he opposes the mushroom question.

Psilocybin is illegal under both Colorado and federal law. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration classifies the drug as a Schedule 1 substance, meaning the agency has deemed that it has a high potential for abuse and currently has no accepted medical use.

In 2004, Denver voters voted to decriminalize marijuana possession, years before Colorado voters voted to approve its legalization for recreational use and establish a full regulatory framework.


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