Initiated Ordinance 301 on the 2019 Denver ballot: decriminalizing psilocybin mushrooms

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Denver Psilocybin Initiative campaign director Kevin Matthews speaks during an event promoting a proposed measure to decriminalize psychedelic mushrooms on Monday, Jan. 7, 2018, in Denver. (Esteban L. Hernandez/Denverite)

Grassroots organizers are pushing for a bill to decriminalize -- not legalize -- psilocybin mushrooms in Denver. The bill would include additional provisions, including establishing a review panel to provide some feedback on how the bill ends up affecting public health and safety.

Here's the language you'll see on the ballot:

Shall the voters of the City and County of Denver adopt an ordinance to the Denver Revised Municipal Code that would make the personal use and personal possession of psilocybin mushrooms by persons twenty-one (21) years of age and older the city's lowest law-enforcement priority, prohibit the city from spending resources to impose criminal penalties for the personal use and personal possession of psilocybin mushrooms by persons twenty-one (21) years of age and older, and establish the psilocybin mushrooms policy review panel to assess and report on the effects of the ordinance?

How would it work?

The bill would add new language to the city's laws making  the enforcement of laws regarding psilocybin mushrooms among the lowest priority for police. This means it would decriminalize possession, use and home cultivation of magic mushrooms for people 21 and older. It would not decriminalize its public consumption. Currently, possession of psilocybin amounts to a felony charge in Denver. The feds classify psilocybin as a Schedule I substance.

The bill would prevent Denver from using public funds or resources to prosecute people charged with psilocybin-related crimes. It would also establish an 11-member psilocybin review panel to report back on the bill's impact.

Who's for it and who's against it?

The bill's primary sponsors are Decriminalize Denver, whose group members turned in signatures in January to place the initiative on the May ballot. Campaign director for the psilocybin initiative Kevin Matthews said earlier this year the bill would give people who use psilocybin to help treat certain medical conditions better access. Organizers said the bill is modeled after previous decriminalization efforts for marijuana.

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