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Did Denver legalize mushrooms?

A ballot measure voted on last year allows adults in Colorado to grow and use certain naturally occurring psychedelics including mushrooms. Their sale is or will be limited to state-licensed healing centres, where trained facilitators will supervise their use. People within the psychedelic field say that restricting sales to healing centres would further distinguish natural hallucinogens from other legal intoxicants such as alcohol. 

These plant medicines or various forms of psychedelics are not necessarily something that someone takes and then cruises on the road or goes to a bar like people do with alcohol. People usually go to a specific place to have a deliberate psychedelic experience. 

What did supporters of legalization of shrooms in Colorado think?

Supporters in Colorado of the bill pointed to the clinical trials of shrooms that show uses in treating terminally ill patients, those who suffer from depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder. People who are seeking healing or ways to cope and have relief in their lives shouldn’t be punished. These people need support, and psychedelic mushrooms can provide some of that help. 

This type of support requires rethinking the infrastructure supporting mental health and alternative therapies. Psychedelics won’t do this for us, but we have the capacity to create communities and integrate psychedelics into treatment for those who need it most.

What did opponents of legalization of shrooms in Colorado think?

Opponents to the proposal in Colorado said that hallucinogens would more easily get into the hands of children. They asserted that the initiative to legalize shrooms was driven by profit-making commercial interests. The U.S. Department of Justice said that ingesting psilocybin mushrooms can have negative physical and psychological consequences, particularly in large doses. However it is important to note that the DOJ has a vested interest in maintaining the negative connotations of psychedelics. 

How many people voted to legalize shrooms in Colorado?

When mushrooms were legalized in Denver, it was only by a very slim margin. 51% of voters were for legalization, and 49% were against. Despite this, those who voted for shroom legalization said that they were not at all surprised. Legalization has clear benefits, especially for veterans with PTSD, end-of-life patients, and patients with treatment resistant depression. Hopefully, with legalization bringing shrooms to the mainstream in Colorado, those who voted against will see the benefits for the population at large.

What is the history of mushrooms in Denver?

Denver voters elected to make it the first city in the US to effectively decriminalize psychedelic mushrooms in 2019. At that time, buying, selling or possessing psychedelic mushrooms was still technically illegal, but the initiative made enforcing the law the lowest priority for police. That vote was also a very thin margin, with fewer than two thousand votes providing the difference in favour.

So far, shrooms have followed a very similar trajectory to cannabis in Colorado, with decriminalization coming first, and legalization of recreational use following a few years later. Opponents of these initiatives worry that Denver is becoming a testing ground for legal drugs, but fail to consider that many places are considering these initiatives and the scientific evidence in support of shrooms is undeniable!

Where else in the US are shrooms decriminalized?

After Denver decriminalized magic mushrooms, Oakland and Santa Cruz – both cities in California – also voted to do the same. Washington, D.C. was close behind in November of 2020. Other cities include Somerville, Cambridge, and Northampton, all in Massachusetts. Also Detroit and Seattle.

Colorado and Oregon are the only two states to have decriminalized and legalized sale of psilocybin mushrooms. Oregon was the first to do so in 2020, and Colorado followed suit in late 2022.  

Are shrooms decriminalized in Canada?

In Canada, psilocybin is considered a schedule III drug, along with other psychedelics like LSD and DMT. Enforcement of psilocybin as illegal is inconsistent between provinces. In British Columbia specifically, possession of most substances has been decriminalized, and there are even some storefronts in Vancouver that sell psychedelics, including mushrooms, to customers. 

The only legal way in Canada to obtain mushrooms at this time is through a Health Canada exemption, either for a clinical trial or a special access program. The special access program and individual exemption would be for users of shrooms who are undergoing end-of-life care. 

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