2019 Denver election guide: Denver’s two ballot initiatives

Voters will decide on whether to overturn the urban camping ban and decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms.
2 min. read
Denver Elections judges run a ballot machine at the division’s downtown headquarters, Oct. 31, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Compared to last year's ballot, the May municipal election ballot might feel a little lighter.

In addition to choosing a mayor, council members, a clerk and recorder, and an auditor, Denver voters will get two chances to change local laws. Unlike the 2018 election, which had nine ballot initiatives for voters to decide on, this upcoming election will only include two ballot initiatives: The Right To Survive and psilocybin decriminalization.

Here's a breakdown on what you'll see in May.

A quick primer on ballot initiatives:

If enough voters agree with the initiatives, they can change state and city laws. These questions can land on the Denver ballot in two ways: Groups can collect thousands of signatures from voters  -- that leads to initiated ordinances -- or the Denver City Council can decide to do it themselves, which leads to a referred measure. For this year's municipal elections, there are only initiated ordinances.

The Denver City Council does have some power to revise the laws, even after they're approved by voters. They also have repealed some voter-approved laws altogether.

These proposals are set for the ballot.

Overturning the city's urban camping ban

Initiated Ordinance 300: An initiative to overturn a law passed by the Denver City Council in 2012 banning people from sheltering themselves in public. The bill would add a chapter to the city's municipal code about human rights and anti-discrimination measures, and would make it unlawful for city employees or agents to harass or intimidate people who are seeking the rights guaranteed by the law if it were passed.

Decriminalizing magic mushrooms

Initiated Ordinance 301: An initiative to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms, or magic mushrooms, by making it lawful for a person 21 or older to possess, use and home cultivation magic mushrooms. It would also establish a panel to review the law's impact on public health and safety and prevent Denver from using public funds or resources to prosecute people charged with psilocybin-related crimes.

For more on each, including the ballot language and a look at who opposes and supports each measure, click through the links.

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