An effort to decriminalize psilocybin, the psychoactive ingredient in "magic mushrooms", appears to be losing in Denver. Though some votes were still being counted, "No" votes had totaled 51.7 percent of those cast, and "Yes" votes were 48.3 percent as of 1 a.m. Mountain time.
If the initiative passes, the use and possession of psilocybin mushrooms by adults 21 and older would be at the lowest law enforcement priority in Denver.
In 2005, Denver became the first major US city to legalize possession of small amounts of marijuana for adults aged 21 or older. "Humans have used these mushrooms for thousands of years for healing, rites of passage, spiritual insight, strengthening community, and raising consciousness", the group says on its website. "My mindset is that it's not a loss, it's a lesson".
Boxes containing magic mushrooms sit on a counter at a coffee and smart shop in Rotterdam November 28, 2008. It is considered a Schedule I controlled substance by the U.S. Department of Justice, which means it is considered to have no medicinal value.
"That option should be available to everyone, without fear", said Williams, 29.
The measure would also establish a Psilocybin Mushroom Policy Review Panel that would study the effects of decriminalization and then make policy recommendations. Local police and prosecutors could still enforce laws against psilocybin sales.
"We're still figuring out marijuana, and even though things are going well so far, we're still measuring the impacts on the people of Denver", McCann said. If successful, Denver would be the first city in the U.S.to legalize mushrooms. However, some recent research has suggested that psilocybin may be effective in treating some forms of depression.
Matthews said psilocybin has helped him deal with depression for years. According to the group, the Food and Drug Administration has granted "breakthrough therapy" status to conduct studies on psilocybin-assisted treatment for depression. The FDA describes breakthrough therapy as created to expedite development of a drug after preliminary evidence shows "the drug may demonstrate substantial improvement over available therapy". "Given our national crisis with opioids, that's a big one", he said.
The Denver Elections division announced in February that the Denver Psilocybin Mushroom Decriminalization Initiative submitted enough signatures for the question to be added to the Municipal Election ballot on May 7.