Denver Makes History, Becomes First U.S. Jurisdiction to Decriminalize Psilocybin Mushrooms

Press Release May 8, 2019
Media Contact

Art Way 720-579-1265
Jag Davies 212-613-8035

In a historic vote, Denver voters approved the Denver Psilocybin Decriminalization Initiative by a narrow margin of 50.6% to 49.4%, establishing the use and possession of psilocybin – commonly known as “magic mushrooms” – as a “lowest law enforcement priority.” The initiative also prevents law enforcement from spending tax dollars on the enforcement of psilocybin use and possession, while creating a review panel for accountability purposes. 

Many local and national media outlets reported last night that the initiative had failed – but in a surprising development, today’s final vote count revealed it had gained just enough “yes” votes to emerge victorious.

This local effort comes on the heels of the Colorado legislature’s recent passage of a drug “defelonization” bill, which is expected to be signed into law by Governor Jared Polis.  This bill would reduce simple possession of any Schedule I or II drug from a felony to a misdemeanor, as California, Oklahoma, Oregon, Connecticut and other states have done in recent years.  
Statement from Art Way, Colorado State Director of the Drug Policy Alliance: 
“No one should be arrested or incarcerated simply for using or possessing psilocybin or any other drug. 

“If anything, this initiative doesn’t go nearly far enough. Given the scientific and public support for decriminalizing all drugs, as Portugal has done successfully, we need broader reforms that can scale back the mass criminalization of people who use drugs.

“More than a million people are arrested each year in the U.S. for drug possession, but this has done nothing to reduce the availability of drugs or the harms they can cause. More comprehensive decriminalization of drug use and possession is necessary to achieve the cost savings and public health outcomes that will maximally benefit Colorado.”  

A young woman holds a sign that says "End the Drug War."

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