Denver residents to vote on decriminalizing psychedelic mushrooms

DENVER -- Denver residents will soon have an opportunity to vote on whether psychedelic mushrooms will be decriminalized in the city.

The Denver Elections Division announced Friday that the Denver Psilocybin Decriminalization Initiative received the required number of valid signatures to be placed on the May 7 municipal election ballot.

In order to get placed on the ballot, petitions must receive a number of valid signatures equal to at least 5 percent of the number of votes cast in the previous mayoral election. This year, that number is 4,726. The mushroom decriminalization petition received 8,524 signatures, 5,559 of which were deemed valid.

The Denver Psilocybin Initiative would make personal use, possession and propagation of psilocybin mushrooms, also known as magic mushrooms, for adults 21 and older the "city's lowest law-enforcement priority."

"This is a real opportunity for Denver to be a leader when it comes to drug policy and to create an environment where individuals feel that they have a safety net to speak about their personal use," said Decriminalize Denver campaign manager Kevin Matthews.

It would also "prohibit the city from spending resources to impose criminal penalties" for personal use, possession and growth.

"What we're doing with our campaign is to make sure individuals are not criminalized for personal possession or personal use," Matthews said. "No one deserves to go to jail and lose their family, their livelihood, their jobs for something that has a therapeutic benefit."

The initiative would also establish the "psilocybin mushroom policy review panel to assess and report on the effects of the ordinance," much like the panel in place for marijuana.

Psilocybin mushrooms are classified as an illegal drug by the federal government.

Marijuana is also classified federally as illegal, but that didn't stop Colorado from approving recreational marijuana use in 2012. Colorado became the first state to allow recreational marijuana in January 2014.

Additionally, a ballot measure on allowing Denver voters to decide whether a future Olympics could be held in the city will not be on the May ballot. The "Let Denver Vote" initiative received 5,576 signatures, but only 4,365 were deemed valid. However, the campaign now has until Feb. 4 to gather the remaining signatures to get a spot on the potential June 4 municipal runoff ballot.

The Olympic Games cannot happen in Denver any time soon, as officials already decided it is not in contention as a potential host city for the 2030 games.

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