Denver Decriminalizes Psychedelic Mushrooms

The fungus has promising mental health benefits.

Denver Decriminalizes Psychedelic Mushrooms
Credit: iStock/dlinca

Psilocybin mushrooms are now decriminalized in Denver after a narrow vote pushed Ordinance 301 to victory. It’s the first city in the U.S. to pass such legislation.

The psychedelic mushrooms have been at the forefront of new treatments for mental health issues including depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. But they’ve long been classified as Schedule 1 drugs in the United States, bringing hefty penalties for possession and use.

Ordinance 301 doesn’t legalize the mushrooms, but it does prevent the city from prosecuting for possession. The measure also permits growing the mushrooms. The mushrooms are still illegal under federal laws though and DEA officials in Denver said they would continue to prosecute for psilocybin cases. 

Local and federal enforcement agencies have faced off similarly over marijuana possession as well. Colorado became the first state to legalize marijuana for recreational use, but federal laws prevent it. Authorities in states where the plant has been legal for medical purposes has seen federal DEA raids at cannabis shops and grow operations.

But with more states adopting pro-marijuana legislation, that may soon shift. And psychedelics may soon follow.

“What happened in Denver may be the start of a much larger movement, which seeks safe access to psilocybin for its purported medicinal value,” NPR reported. “Supporters point to research suggesting psilocybin is not addictive and causes few ER visits compared with other illegal drugs. Ongoing medical research shows it could be a groundbreaking medicine for treatment-resistant depression and to help curb nicotine addiction.”

Organizations like MAPS ( Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies) have been working to destigmatize psychedelics and point to the clinical benefits. Acclaimed food journalist Michael Pollan also dived into the benefits of psychedelics, including a mushroom trip with mycologist Paul Stamets, in his most recent book, “How to Change Your Mind.”

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