On May 8, 2019, Denver voted in favor of decriminalizing hallucinogenic mushrooms. Initiated Ordinance 301 (psilocybin Mushroom Initiative) will deprioritize the criminal prosecution and pursuit of people ages 21 or older who use or are in possession of these mushrooms.

The initiative passed by a small margin, with the final vote sitting at 90,097 to 87,806. This vote makes Denver the first city in the United States to decriminalize the use and possession of hallucinogenic mushrooms. Though the substance is still illegal, the initiative prohibits the city from using resources to pursue criminal penalties for possession or use.

Benefits of Magic Mushrooms

Psilocybin mushrooms, commonly referred to as “magic mushrooms,” are generally taken for their hallucinogenic effects. People report feeling spiritual or having dreamlike experiences after using the substance. A 2017 study showed that psilocybin can reduce symptoms of depression in people who are resistant to other forms of treatment.

Clinical research showed that psilocybin can reduce anxiety, improve mood and help with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) as well as alcohol dependence. Researchers at John Hopkins University believe the substance should become developed as a New Drug Application (NDA), but they also point out the potential for misuse and other risks.

Dangers of Magic Mushrooms

As a hallucinogenic substance, the psilocybin in magic mushrooms causes intense psychological effects when ingested. Mushrooms can alter the mind, making someone who uses it feel disjointed or depressed when the effects wear off. The drug can also cause a “bad trip,” which is when a person’s mental state becomes unstable as their thoughts race uncontrollably.

Though magic mushrooms aren’t physically addictive, people may want to continue taking the drug for further psychedelic experiences. As someone takes more, their tolerance increases and they have to use higher amounts to feel the same effects.

Magic mushroom use can cause an increased heart rate, nausea, and dizziness, but the real danger comes from what someone may do while they are hallucinating. This dissociative state can cause people to get into harmful situations or behave in dangerous ways to themselves and others.

How Will Decriminalizing Magic Mushrooms Affect Society?

Some people fear that drug decriminalization causes more people to seek out drugs. However, this belief is usually not the reality as observed in states that decriminalized drugs such as marijuana.

Decriminalizing means there will be fewer resources designated to prosecuting people for the use and possession of magic mushrooms. This will free up law enforcement to focus on other tasks and use the money and resources elsewhere.

With this step taken, magic mushrooms may go on to be used for people who suffer from depression, anxiety, OCD or alcohol dependency.

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