On Decriminalizing Magic Mushrooms: The Psychedelic Constituency and Its Challenges

Tuesday, May 7 was Election Day in Denver. The voters were presented with choices for Mayor, City Council, Auditor, Clerk and Recorder, and two voter initiatives: Initiative 300 (the Right to Survive Initiative, which aimed to restore certain rights as to sheltering in public places, i.e. rights of the homeless) and Initiative 301, the Denver Psilocybin Mushroom Decriminalization Ballot Initiative (I-301).

In February 2018, I heard about a group that wanted to decriminalize psychoactive mushrooms in Denver, but didn’t know much about it. In May, the new campaign director, Kevin Mathews, contacted me. He’d listened to a podcast I did on the topic of “psychedelic law,” a term I coined in 2010.

Left to its own devices, the Denver government likely would not dedicate resources to studying a mind-bending fungus, but the psychedelic constituency has mandated that it do just that.

I joined the drug policy reform movement in 1993 specifically with the goal of legalizing psychedelics, so I was glad to hear from Matthews. From May to September, we worked on an initiative in collaboration with Colorado attorneys and policy experts that could pass the Board of Elections’ requirements. In October, the board certified the language. Matthews’

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