On Monday, an organization hoping to place a ballot initiative to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms before Denver voters later this year submitted their signatures to city officials.
The group, Decriminalize Denver, said that its petition has so far received more than 8,000 signatures, with a 63 percent validity rate. It only takes 4,726 valid signatures to qualify for the ballot.
Organizers will know for sure next month whether its initiative will appear on the May ballot, after the city’s Elections Division confirms that the petition received sufficient signatures. If it comes up short, advocates will still have time to collect additional signatures for the November ballot.
“Most people who actually stop and listen end up signing it,” Kevin Matthews, director of Decriminalize Denver, told Westword. “We also get some who don’t necessarily support the initiative but still want it to go to a vote.”
“We present well. We’re not a bunch of raggedy hippies.”
If it ultimately goes before voters and passes, the Mile High City will be the first in the U.S. to decriminalize psilocybin—amending city law to make possession, personal use and cultivation of the substance for adults 21 and older the “city’s lowest law-enforcement priority.” The initiative would also ban the city government from using funds to impose criminal penalties against adults for low-level psilocybin offenses.
A policy review panel, charged with issuing reports on the status of the initiative, would also be established under the measure, similar to one that was launched to review the effects of marijuana legalization in Denver.
While Denver might be the first city to decriminalize psilocybin if the initiative passes, a proposes statewide measure that would allow the administration of psilocybin by licensed medical professionals is also making headway in Oregon. The state attorney general certified the language of the proposed initiative in November, and activists need to collect 140,00 valid signatures to qualify for the 2020 ballot.
Some drug policy advocates see psilocybin as the next target for reform after marijuana. Like cannabis, psilocybin is strictly prohibited under federal law but seems to have unique therapeutic potential with a relatively low risk of harm.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia/Mädi.