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Denver Gets Psychedelic, Decriminalizes Mushrooms

Jose Nino Comments

Voters in the City of Denver approved the decriminalization of psilocybin mushrooms on May 7, 2019.  The Denver Psilocybin Mushroom Decriminalization Initiative was passed by a razor-thin margin of 50.5 percent to 49.5 percent.

Under this newly passed initiative, the personal use and possession of psilocybin mushrooms by persons aged 21 and older would be Denver’s lowest law-enforcement priority. Further, the city would be prohibited from using resources to place criminal penalties on the use and possession of these mushrooms.

This referendum represents another victory against the failed War on Drugs. Although it is not as comprehensive as Colorado’s 2012 marijuana legalization initiative, this decriminalization initiative is a step in the right direction for those who want to end the Drug War.

Politics is a slow process filled with institutional inertia. Lest we forget, Colorado’s statewide marijuana legalization initiative was preceded by Denver voters approving a ballot initiative that made marijuana possession arrests “law enforcement’s lowest priority.”

A small step in the right direction, this successful initiative helped build momentum towards the drug’s eventual legalization in 2012.

Since it was waged in earnest during the 1970s, the War on Drugs has been a blight on American society. This disastrous campaign has been a treat for the prison industry and for spendthrift politicians who think throwing money and imposing prohibitions on substances will magically reduce their harmful effects. To the contrary, these efforts have made the illicit drug trade more lucrative while creating the incentive for drug suppliers to bring more dangerous substances onto the market.

The recent decriminalization of psychedelic mushrooms is now at least getting the conversation started on the legalization of other drugs. This successful initiative also demonstrates the importance of local politics. In these types of elections, everyday citizens can change the conversation and get good policies implemented.

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