Two years after Denver voters made the city the first in the country to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms, a panel tasked with suggesting tweaks to the law outlined several potential changes to Denver City Council members, including allowing people to share and consume psilocybin mushrooms together.
During a presentation at the council’s finance committee on Tuesday, Kevin Matthews, who advocated for the law, told local lawmakers the recommendations could be part of a future bill considered by the city council. Matthews is president of the Denver Psilocybin Mushroom Policy Review Panel, which is responsible for making the policy recommendations introduced on Tuesday.
“Earlier this year…our psilocybin mushroom policy review panel unanimously declared that decriminalizing psilocybin mushrooms in the City and County of Denver has not since created any significant public health or safety issue in the city,” Matthews said.
Additional recommendations included training local first responders, such as paramedics, cops, sheriffs, firefighters and STAR program members, on how to properly respond to people in a psilocybin-induced crisis event.
It also calls for figuring out how psilocybin can be used to treat mental health issues and introducing educational public service announcements.
Decriminalizing psilocybin mushrooms did not legalize them or make it OK to consume them publicly. Rather, the law lets people 21 years or older to possess, use and cultivate them locally, so the only way to (legally) get your hands on them would be to grow them yourself. It calls on Denver police to make it one of their lowest possible enforcement priorities.
Under the proposal Matthews introduced, people would be allowed to share or gift these mushrooms to other people — which is currently not allowed under the city’s law.
Voters narrowly passed the law in May 2019, after initial turnout made it look like the measure would fail.
Tuesday’s presentation showed arrests for psilocybin are down by about 50%, while 89% of arrests involving magic mushrooms include other illicit substances. Psilocybin accounts for less than 1% of drug felonies and misdemeanors in the city, according to the presentation.
Its use for medicinal or therapeutic purposes was among the reasons why advocates sought to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms. On Tuesday, the results from the largest-ever study of psilocybin were released, suggesting the drug was highly effective as a therapy for treating depression, according to health news site STAT.
Councilmember Chris Hinds, who’s a member of the psilocybin panel, said he was excited Denver became a national leader for decriminalization. Since Denver voters passed the law, other cities including Oakland, Seattle and Washington, D.C., have adopted similar decriminalizing laws. Just last week, voters in Detroit made it the latest large city to pass such a measure.