Voters in Denver passed a law decriminalizing the use of “magic mushrooms.”
What the Law Says
Denver voted to effectively decriminalize mushrooms. Technically, the vote means the police department will make the enforcement of laws regarding mushrooms as the lowest department priority.
Are Magic Mushrooms a Major Legal Problem?
Let’s look at the numbers. The Denver District Attorney’s Office prosecuted 9,000 drug cases between 2016 and 2018. Of those 9,000, only 11 were for mushroom related offenses. 3 of the 11 were for possession with intent to distribute or manufacture mushrooms. So either people really aren’t doing mushrooms there anyways or the police have bigger fish to fry with drugs such as heroin, fentanyl, and methamphetamine.
What Are Magic Mushrooms Exactly?
Magic Mushrooms are more formally known as Psilocybin Mushrooms, which comprise about 200 different species of mushrooms. These mushrooms contain hallucinogenic properties that can produce changed perceptions and visual and mental hallucinations. These hallucinogenic properties are not as strong as a drug like LSD, however. Researchers have noted that Psilocybin is not addictive, and no direct lethal overdose from mushroom use is on record.
The use of mushrooms for their psychedelic properties has been recorded for centuries and have been used even longer. Many Native American tribes in the American Southwest have used them for the spiritual experiences the mushrooms produce. In modern times, researchers are exploring potential uses of mushrooms in patients with depression, alcoholism, and mental stress from severe illness or pending death.
Moving Forward Legally Speaking
The new law includes the creation of a panel to study the effects of mushroom decriminalization. Mushrooms will not be sold at Colorado stores that sell recreational marijuana. Psilocybin mushrooms remain a Schedule I Controlled Substance for federal purposes. This means the federal government classifies the drug as having a high potential for abuse and no scientific medical uses. This may change.
First the research regarding mushroom use in medical settings may gain more wide acceptance. And second, Colorado, along with Washington, was one of the first states to legalize recreational marijuana. Denver’s vote may again signal things to come. Lawmakers in Oakland, California, recently signaled a willingness to discuss a similar measure in their city. Stay tuned.
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Sam Bernstein is a Criminal Defense Attorney in Ann Arbor, MI.
ArborYpsi Law is located at 4158 Washtenaw Ave., Ann Arbor, MI.