Denver panel recommends further decriminalizing mushrooms
Two and a half years after Denver made history by becoming the first US city to decriminalize psychedelic mushrooms, Denver city council may consider a new proposal that further decriminalizes mushrooms.
“Making psilocybin the lowest priority for law enforcement in Denver has not resulted in significant public health or safety concerns, and the available data indicates that most people use psilocybin in a way that responsible. We should expand civil liberties and find out how Denver can embrace psilocybin as a treatment option. for those most at risk, ”says Kevin Matthews, chairman of the Denver Psilocybin Mushroom Policy Review Panel and responsible for the successful campaign to decriminalize mushrooms in Denver. Psilocybin is the natural compound in some mushrooms that makes them psychedelic.
The panel, which includes District Attorney Beth McCann, Denver Police Department Division Chief Joe Montoya and City Councilor Chris Hinds, among others, recently completed a report examining the effects of decriminalization and suggesting next steps. for the city. Matthews will present the panel’s findings to a board committee in early November. The panel will recommend that the council decriminalize the practice of offering psychedelic mushrooms to other people and also decriminalize community use of psilocybin.
With the adoption in May 2019 of Initiative 301 by a slight majority of Denver voters, the personal possession, use and growth of psilocybin is decriminalized in Denver. However, the trade is still criminalized locally and the initiative has had no effect on federal law enforcement.
For decades, authorities have classified psilocybin as a Schedule I substance, which the Drug Enforcement Administration defines as “drugs without currently accepted medical use and with high potential for abuse.” But public opinion on psychedelic mushrooms is changing.
Colorado advocates question whether to aim for a statewide mushroom decriminalization vote initiative. Meanwhile, cities across the country are taking action. Following the Denver vote, Oakland, Ann Arbor, and Washington, DC, all decriminalized entheogens, which are natural psychedelics. In November 2020, voters in Oregon decriminalized simple possession of all drugs and put in place a framework for psilocybin-assisted therapy.
The Denver panel will also recommend that the board adopt three other proposals, including one that would establish a public service campaign on the responsible use of psilocybin, another that would train first responders on psilocybin, and a third that would would encourage the city to explore “how psilocybin therapy can be applied to treat mental health issues in Denver.”
“I am ready to be the sponsor,” says Hinds. “What is clear is that we have decriminalized psilocybin. Denver has taken the lead in the United States and frankly, well beyond to decriminalize psilocybin. And since it decriminalized, the sky is not not fallen. ”
The panel has held six meetings over the past two years, and decriminalization advocates have worked well with law enforcement during those sessions.
“I guess I thought there might be more hindsight on the enforcement side and the prosecution side,” Hinds recalls, “but there really wasn’t, and that’s partly because there haven’t really been a lot of arrests. There really haven’t been. This seems to be a big concern from the law enforcement side about psilocybin in Denver . ”
DA McCann also appreciated his time on the panel. “As a progressive city, Denver is already reinventing local drug policies and supporting treatment and mental health versus prison services for drug offenders. We want to explore how psilocybin can have a positive impact in our communities and in the lives of people who can potentially benefit from responsible use, ”said Carolyn Tyler, spokesperson for McCann.
Matthews himself went from a field canvasser to someone who became comfortable in the corridors of power in the country. “They have only been open-minded and professional.”
The Denver Police Department and McCann’s office said they were following the decriminalization stipulations.
“Psilocybin-related arrests have fallen by more than half since the passage of I-301,” the panel report notes. The vast majority of arrests in which psilocybin was seized were also for other drugs and / or other offenses. Since decriminalization, there have only been five arrests in Denver for psilocybin alone, including three for amounts greater than personal use, a classification that has not been quantified.
Of the two arrests that involved only personal amounts of psilocybin, Matthews notes that “there is some concern and we need to better understand the context in which these arrests were made, better educate law enforcement and establish / enforce reporting standards for law enforcement regarding psilocybin. ”