Denver became the first city to decriminalize mushrooms but what does this actually mean?
The campaign manager behind Denver’s vote said that they had left it initially vague on purpose.
Dan Bilzerian, known for his exorbitant lifestyle and a notorious internet personality and weed entrepreneur tweeted:
Denver legalized mushrooms. What a great thing.
It is great indeed but not what actually happened. Magic mushrooms appeared to be out of reach but in the end, was decriminalized in Denver.
People over 21 years and older will be allowed to use magic mushrooms for personal use. The campaign also wants to prohibit spending on related penalties. However, this is not the same thing as legalization. Despite the vote, psychedelics are a long way from becoming legal in Denver and anywhere else. Advocates in favor of legalization weren’t even aware of what they had actually done.
One thing is for certain. The vote to decriminalize magic mushrooms will help remove the threat from law enforcement for individual consumers. Locals can possess and get high on shrooms without facing any punishment. However, getting access to magic mushrooms or where to buy it has not been resolved and may not be resolved for a while.
Chris Olson, a field organizer of the Denver Psilocybin Inititiative said,
This isn’t setting up a regulatory framework to sell psilocybin. That was a big challenge for us: differentiation between legalization and decriminilazation. Because, to most people, that doesn’t really mean anything.
The legalization in Denver may allow people to grow their own mushrooms without concern for legal punishment but only for personal use and possibly share with a small number of friends.
Noah Potter, a lawyer who helped craft the ballot says,
One of the more innovative aspects of this inititiative is at the point where the supply equals the demand. When the comsumer is also the producer- that demand of production here is also decriminalized.
However, if this were true, it is unclear how much magic mushrooms you can grow without attracting the attention of law enforcement.
Decriminalization is Not Relatively Clear
Kevin Mathews had said that they left it vague on purpose and didn’t include limits, specifically on cultivation because it is extremely difficult to measure from a law enforcement perspective.
For those that want to recreationally use shrooms in their daily lives is not relatively clear.
Matthews said that he will be contacting the city’s attorney’s office and schedule a meeting with them. He says that they have questions as to what personal use looks like and they “may draft a little addendum to be added to it.”
The Denver Police Department is working closely with the Denver City Attorney’s Office for assistance in the interpretation of the new law regarding the legalization of magic mushrooms. Their feedback will determine the training that will be needed for the officers to move forward.
In both Oregon and California, a review panel still has to be set up to keep tabs on implementation and will look into Denver as a model moving forward.
Legalization Was About Policing Rather Than Commercialization
People will be eager to compare the legalization of magic mushrooms to weed but they don’t compare in any way. Partly because of the distinct nature of both drugs and the history of their enforcement. Furthermore, nobody is advocating the recreational use of magic mushrooms as they had with marijuana.
Sam Kamin, a professor of marijuana policy and law at the University of Denver said,
There were not a lot of psilocybin arrests in Denver prior to this. And I think, in that way, it is different from marijuana.
People are still getting arrested for marijuana, and while there are very few people doing jail time for simple possesstion, it is something police can use to harass, or go through someone’s pockets. That just hasn’t really been true with psilocyin. But another imortant thing to remember is that marijuana legalization in Colorado started with decriminlization of it in Denver. I think some people have seen some parells here. But we’re certaintily not going to come up with the same commercial market.
Olson had suspected that the votes for legalizing magic mushrooms would have been higher if residents understood that the legalization was about policing rather than commercialization. In fact, recreational marijuana hadn’t arrived in the city without arousing anger in some corners.
If voters had grasped this then maybe they may have given the measure of legalization a boost, perhaps an even greater boost than the one Olson attributed to Michael Pollan’s 2018 book titled, How to Change Your Mind, a best-seller that introduced psychedelics to a wide range of audience.
A Work in Progress
The decriminalization of magic mushrooms was officially certified on May 16. Both potential mayors, Michael Hancock, the two-term incumbent, and his challenger, Jamie Giellis were currently in a runoff election. Both mayors had said that they would respect the will of the people.
Beth McCann, a city attorney had also said that she would respect the will of the people as well. For now, Mathews plans to advocate the public in Denver and other countries about the use of magic mushrooms and its benefits. It is a work in progress and something to look forward to in the future.
The decriminalization of magic mushrooms may not be widely understood but the idea behind the beneficial use psychedlics can bring to medicine has come a long way.
Scientists are now experimenting and researching the powerful effects of psychedelics and may be a stepping stone for personal use in the future. It may take a while for psychedelics to really be legalized just like marijuana where you can actually buy the substance in public rather than just using magic mushrooms privately.
Soon, other psychedelics might make their way into the public eye and may also be legalized. The legalization of other drugs may take some time though but I believe that it will be legalized since scientists are already seeing a breakthrough in the medicinal use of psychedlics.