A Denver initiative to decriminalize the use and possession of psilocybin mushrooms was narrowly passed by voters on Tuesday, according to results posted by the city. Preliminary reports had shown that the measure, I-301, had failed, but updated numbers released on Wednesday showed that it passed with 50.56 percent of the vote. A margin of victory of less than half a percent would trigger an automatic recount.
Cindy Sovine-Miller, who worked on the campaign for the initiative, said that passage of the initiative is the beginning of a larger movement.
“It starts by forcing the conversation and protecting access,” she said. “Whether you’re using this plant for a medical reason, or a spiritual reason, or a recreational reason, you should not be going to jail or losing your children for it.”
Magic Mushrooms Now ‘Lowest Law Enforcement Priority’
I-301 amends the Denver municipal code to make possession of psilocybin mushrooms by adults 21 and older the city’s lowest law enforcement priority. It also prohibits the city from spending public resources to impose criminal penalties on adults for using or possessing psilocybin and mandates the establishment of a city panel to determine the effects of the new ordinance on the city.
In each of the last three years, an average of 50 people were arrested in Denver for possessing psilocybin mushrooms and 11 were prosecuted.
“One of the folks very much involved with our campaign was one of those people,” said Sovine-Miller. “[He] was arrested and thrown in jail, and still to this day has ramifications in his life for what he can and cannot do because of psilocybin.”
Research has shown promise for psilocybin as a treatment for anxiety and depression. An unidentified 54-year-old who uses psilocybin medicinally told local media that “I don’t think that people should be criminalized or looked upon differently because they are required to take something that can make them feel this much better.”
The results of Tuesday’s election are “unofficial until the Canvass and Certification of the Municipal General Election on May 16,” according to the Denver Election Division. If the passage of I-301 is certified, it would make Denver the first city in the United States to effectively decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms.