Magic mushrooms decriminalized in Denver

A vendor bags psilocybin mushrooms at a pop-up cannabis market in Los Angeles on Monday, May 6, 2019.

Denver has voted to decriminalise the use of magic mushrooms - the first U.S. city to do so.

Although the measure earlier appeared headed for defeat, by late afternoon on Wednesday the numbers showed a reversal of fortune with Initiative 301 set to pass with almost 50.6 percent of the vote.

A vote for "yes" on "Initiated Ordinance 301, Psilocybin Mushroom Initiative" which appeared on Tuesday's ballot would make "adult possession and use of psilocybin mushrooms the lowest law enforcement priority in Denver" and would prohibit the city "from spending resources on enforcing related penalties".

Psilocybin is a "hallucinogenic chemical obtained from certain types of fresh and dried mushrooms".

The federal government classifies psilocybin as a Schedule I drug, with no medical objective and a high potential for abuse.

The agency has deemed that it has a high potential for abuse with no accepted medical application.

Although top city officials, including the mayor and district attorney, came out against the proposal, none bothered to organize any sort of opposition, and most residents focused their energy on the other items on the ballot, including a close race for mayor and another ballot initiative that would permit camping on city property.

In a state where voters legalized marijuana for recreational use seven years ago, the psilocybin initiative was a test of whether that victory reflected widespread acceptance of a moral principle that could be extended to other drugs.

Nilufer Saltuk of Denver smiles as she gets a sticker for dropping off her ballot at the Denver Electoral Commission Tuesday, May 7, 2019, in Denver.

The group responsible for the measure, Decriminalize Denver, followed the same tack taken by marijuana activists to decriminalize pot possession in 2005 in the city.

That move was followed by statewide legalisation in 2012. The ban stymied medical research, but small studies in recent years have found the substance had positive effects on anxiety and depression for cancer patients.

The election division in the city will continue to tally votes from military and overseas voters, but they're unlikely to swing the result, according to the report.

Users have described seeing vivid colours and geometric patterns, and experiencing powerful spiritual connections and emotions.

  • Jon Douglas