This week, Denver, the capital of Colorado became the first city in the United States to decriminalize psilocybin, a compound with hallucinogenic properties that occurs in some mushrooms. This historic move could open new frontiers both in the country’s evolving relationship with mind-altering substances and in the accelerating exploration of psychedelics in the medical community.
Kevin Matthews, the director of the campaign ‘Denver Psilocybin Initiative’ to legalize psilocybin in Denver, said in an interview with the New York Times, “Because psilocybin has such tremendous medical potential, there’s no reason individuals should be criminalized for using something that grows naturally,”.
According to the Times, the new law decriminalizing the hallucinogenic mushrooms passed by just a narrow margin, of less than 2,000 votes. Alton P. Dillard, the elections spokesman, stated that the passage appeared safe, but the final results will be certified by May 16.
This ballot doesn’t entirely legalize psilocybin-containing mushrooms, but it makes the prosecution for possessing and cultivating them an extremely low-priority offense. The already fairly rare arrests and prosecutions would all but disappear.
Advocates of more lenient criminal enforcement of psilocybin quote studies indicating that the drug can be helpful in treating depression and anxiety among people especially cancer patients. Other studies have recognized potential uses in therapy for alcoholics and people trying to quit smoking. But not everybody in Denver is pleased.
Carolyn Tyler, a spokeswoman for the district attorney, told the Times, “We’re still in the very early stages of marijuana legalization, and we are still learning the impact of that substance on our city. The district attorney is not in favor of Denver being the only city that doesn’t enforce the law.”