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Denver voters approve decriminalizing “magic mushrooms”

On May 7, 2019 Denver, Colorado passed Initiative 301 decriminalizing psilocybin, or “magic”, mushrooms. Denver is now the first city in the U.S. that has legislation decriminalizing psilocybin.

Decriminalizing psilocybin means that Denver will no longer have financial resources that can go towards prosecution or imprisonment of any person, over age 21, who has possession of psilocybin mushrooms for personal use. Decriminalizing psilocybin mushrooms does not yield all the same results as legalization, but the progress towards considerations of what positive benefits psilocybin may hold is encouraging.

The initiative also includes the beginning of a board that will be dedicated to reviewing the decriminalization progress and effects. Colorado was also one of the first states to legalize marijuana, and some are saying that the advocates for decriminalizing psilocybin are following a similar playbook.

COMPASS Pathways, which was granted Breakthrough Therapy designation for its work with psilocybin from the FDA in 2018, reported that Dr Robin Carhart-Harris, Head of the Psychedelic Research Group, Imperial College London, said, “In our 2015 study, we provided psilocybin to 19 patients in a clinical setting, coupled with psychological support, and found promising signals of efficacy and safety as treatment for treatment-resistant depression. The Breakthrough Therapy designation is a strong endorsement for the potential of psilocybin therapy. We look forward to learning more as further clinical studies are carried out, by our team at Imperial College as well as in COMPASS’s multi-centre trial.”

COMPASS Pathways also reports that more than 100 million people worldwide experience depression that is non-responsive to current and available treatment methods. Decriminalizing psilocybin mushrooms in Denver may encourage further scientific focus on the potential positive therapeutic uses of the substance.

In related news, this week North Dakota decriminalized marijuana, becoming the 25th state to do so.

What will be the next move in decriminalizing psilocybin mushrooms for the state of Colorado? How might Denver’s example with this initiative influence other places?


Meryl Connelly-Chew

I work as an advocate for survivors of domestic and sexual violence and facilitate a LGBTQ+ survivors support group. I have a B.L.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies, with concentrations in Psychology, Sociology, and English. I grew up in rural Southeast Alaska, and live now in Bellingham, Washington with my dog Fathom. I write for Kindling because I believe in the innate value of each of us and I am inspired by the existence of goodness in our collective humanity.

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