Denver Activists Working To Decriminalize Psilocybin

By Victoria Kim 03/08/18

If the measure succeeds, possession of psilocybin would result in a fine as opposed to a felony charge.

magic mushrooms in the forest

A group of Denver activists want to decriminalize psilocybin, or “magic mushrooms,” which would replace criminal penalties with a citation.

Colorado Public Radio reported Monday (March 5) that a group of about 20 activists attended a public hearing with Denver officials to discuss phrasing and enforcement of the proposed measure.

Next, they will submit petition materials to the Denver Elections Division, and once approved, can begin collecting signatures to qualify the measure for the fall 2018 ballot.

If it succeeds, the measure would decriminalize the possession of psilocybin. So instead of a felony charge, a person found with two ounces of dried shrooms, or two pounds of uncured “wet” shrooms, must pay a fine of up to $99 for the first offense, CPR explains. If they are caught again, the fine increases by $100 for each subsequent offense, but can go no higher than $999 per citation.

Proponents of the psilocybin decriminalization initiative say the psychedelic fungus has life-changing spiritual properties.

Kevin Matthews, who helped draft the initiative, said it had “a pretty massive impact” on his life. “I struggled with depression for years, I was diagnosed with major depression as a teenager,” he said, according to CPR. “It’s helped me tremendously with my own mental health and on top of that, with creativity, and really being able to just explore different aspects of myself, and really get some healing from the inside out.”

Another member of the pro-psilocybin campaign, Michele Ross, neuroscientist and director of IMPACT Network, had a similar experience. “I use many different natural substances, but psilocybin is one thing that helps me overcome depression in a way that cannabis hasn’t,” she said.

This isn’t exactly mystical mumbo jumbo. Psilocybin is the subject of several research studies for its potential effectiveness in treating a range of ailments including alcohol use disorder, depression, and even cigarette smoking. And so far, the results have been promising.

One study, published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology in 2016, found that psilocybin was able to lift depressed mood and anxiety in cancer patients, the effects lasting in 80% of participants after six months.

The Johns Hopkins researchers observed, “Participants attributed to the high-dose [psilocybin] experience positive changes in attitudes about life, self, mood, relationships and spirituality, with over 80% endorsing moderately or higher increased well-being or life satisfaction.”

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr