By Anthony Martinelli

A group called Colorado for Psilocybin is attempting to decriminalize the possession of psilocybin (“magic”) mushrooms in Denver.

The group is working to place the Psilocybin Decriminalization Initiative on Denver’s general election ballot. The proposal would decriminalize the possession of up to two ounces of dried mushrooms, or two pounds of uncured mushrooms. Possessing more than this would be a simple citation, with the fee being up to $99 for the first offense. This would be increased by increments of $100 for subsequent offenses; the initiative clarifies that the fine would never be above $999.

“I’m a big believer in cognitive liberty, and so whatever people decide to consume I think is up to them,” says Tyler Williams, who’s co-founder of the Denver chapter of the Psychedelic Club at the University of Colorado Boulder. “I think people should be informed about what they are consuming, and they shouldn’t have to be afraid of going to jail for that.”

Kevin Matthews, who helped draft the initiative, supports decriminalizing magic mushrooms in part due to its medical potential.

“I’m proud to say that psilocybin has had a pretty massive impact on my life,” says Matthews. “I struggled with depression for years, I was diagnosed with major depression as a teenager. It’s helped me tremendously with my own mental health and on top of that, with creativity, and really being able to just explore different aspects of myself, and really get some healing from the inside out”.

Matthews points to a study by Johns Hopkins University that found psilocybin users dealing with cancer-related stress reported lasting positive effects one year later. A New York University study came to similar results. A separate study found that it could provide a potential treatment option for depression.

On the state level, advocates of the California Psilocybin Legalization Initiative (Initiative 17-0024) are aiming to place their magic mushroom legalization initiative on the 2018 general election ballot. To do so, they must collect signatures from 365,880 registered California voters by the end of April (they received approval from Secretary of State Alex Padilla in November to begin collecting signatures).

In Oregon, a group called the Oregon Psilocybin Society is working on an initiative that would legalize the medical use of magic mushrooms.

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