The controversial and groundbreaking news surrounds Denver at the moment as they become the first city in the country to decriminalize psychedelic mushrooms. After a long day of counting votes which continued into the night and early Wednesday the votes were posted which showed a gleam of hope-with Initiative 301 set to pass narrowly with 50.6 percent of the vote. According to the Denver times, the total stands currently at “89,320 votes in favor and 87,341 against, a margin of 1,979.”
Even though the Denver Elections Division will continue to accept military and overseas ballots, that only account for a meager percentage of the final results, which will be certified on May 16.
“It’s been one hell of a 21 and a half hours,” the Initiative 301 campaign director Kevin Matthews stated. “If these results hold, this is an example of the absurd comedy of the great metaphor. Against all the odds, we prevailed. This is what happens when a small team of dedicated and passionate people unites under a single idea to create change.”
Denver’s push to legalize mushrooms has attracted national attention, and two states have planned to follow. Oregon and California are in the midst of creating their psilocybin-related bills to make it on the 2020 ballot.
The Organizers of the campaign note that the city of Denver was the first one to host the first ever U.S. popular vote on the matter, despite a previous effort in California last year that failed to qualify for the ballot.
The Initiative 301 didn’t initially attract an organized opposition group, although the critics of Colorado’s legalization of marijuana rued the decisions claiming that it would yet again create a trail of harmful and possibly dangerous cases.
The new measure would allow adults to use psilocybin without any legal repercussions. Jeff Hunt, director of the Centennial Institute at Colorado Christian University, noted that “We’ll see what the final numbers are, but we’re a little stunned to see a 7,000-vote flip overnight on that.” Hunt took to Twitter to question whether vote-tampering was involved saying “We’ll continue to fight the growing drug culture. Denver’s becoming the illicit drug capital of the world. The larger issue here is not good for our city.”
He also noted that “Marijuana has brought more problems than it’s solved to our city and our state, and if we continue to go down this track, we’re going to continue to see Colorado get in worse and worse shape.”
Countless studies were cited in the ballot measure which showed emerging potential medical benefits from the use of psychedelic mushrooms. Many are speculating that the bill was pushed over the top by young voters, who typically tend to submit their votes closer to election day.
Just last fall, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced that they had granted psilocybin “breakthrough therapy” status for its potential to help with treatment-resistant depression. This status means that the process of development and clinical trials will speed up and pushed further for review for a medicine containing the mushroom substance.
According to the I-301, police in the ordinance would be ordered to treat enforcement of laws against the possession of psilocybin mushrooms as their lowest priority. The measure is similar to the decriminalization of rules approved by Denver voters a few years ago for marijuana before Colorado’s Amendment 64 won statewide approval.
However, under the new bill, Psychedelic mushrooms are still illegal to buy, sell or possess with the latter crime a felony that could come with a year-long jail sentence and a hefty fine. But they hope that with the new 301 they will lower the risk and potential of users getting caught with fungi.
Although the 301 is in place, Denver voters once signed off on decriminalization measures back in 2005 and 2007, that didn’t stop police from enforcing the old law. Still, advocates of the previous action believe that the public outcry and discussion helped lead to full legalization in 2012.
“I’ll say this: We’re looking forward to creating a positive relationship with city officials,” Matthews stated. “We have the resources ready to make sure the Justice Department, the (district attorney’s) office and the Denver Police Department have the education they need to implement this in a way that’s fair.”
Another point in Initiative 301 is that the city will be required to organize a panel that will monitor the effects and implementation of the ordinance.
Due to the early results, national media outlets including the Recover wrongly announced the fail of I-301 a bust late Tuesday, but the gap continued to tighten as the votes began to add up by 1 am Wednesday- with Denver coming out victorious.
The Recover is an unbiased substance abuse and mental health news provider. Helping individuals looking for the right treatment programs in their area. Also providing information on drug rehab centers for addiction recovery.