Colorado is no stranger to spearheading relaxed drug legislation. After the state legalized marijuana in 2012, other states promptly followed suit, which reinforced a country-wide conversation over what drugs should and shouldn’t be strictly regulated. In its latest move, Denver could become the first city to decriminalize magic mushrooms after a petition gained enough signatures to add the measure to the ballot.
On Monday, Decriminalize Denver, the advocacy group spearheading the decriminalization of psilocybin, submitted a petition with nearly 9,500 signatures to the Denver Elections Division. The branch of city government has 25 days to review the petition and determine whether the total number of signatures, 4,726, are valid. If it is determined that the threshold has been reached, the measure will be presented to voters in May.
Kevin Matthews, the campaign director of Decriminalize Denver told CNN why they’re is advocating for decriminalization. “We want people kept out of prison, families kept together,” he explained. “That was the main motivation for this.”
Psilocybin is currently categorized as a Schedule I drug on the federal level, similar to heroin and LSD. Rather than legalization, decriminalization would lessen the punishments associated with obtaining or possessing that substance. According to the Denver Post, should voters decide to decriminalize magic mushrooms, they would “become lowest law-enforcement priority and [bar] the use of city resources to impose penalties.”
A group of activists in Oregon are similarly championing the decriminalization of magic mushrooms in their state as well, which would be voted upon in 2020.
The seemingly sporadic wave of public interest is by no means random. Ample research that supports the medical utility of psilocybin has been published in recent years, providing quantitative grounds for these decriminalization movements to walk on. Amanda Feilding, founder and director of the Beckley Foundation, told CNN of the increased research surrounding the drug. “As the amount of research with psilocybin increases across the world, and more people hear of its significant therapeutic potential, it is only natural that more people are growing curious about it,” she said.
Published research has found that the drug helps cancer patients with depression and anxiety, and it has been known to help ease the effects of drug addiction.