sunny.png
Monday September 23rd, 2019 10:15AM

Denver 'magic mushroom' measure appears headed for defeat

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

DENVER (AP) — Voters on Tuesday appeared to reject an attempt to make Denver the first U.S. city to decriminalize psilocybin — the psychoactive substance in "magic mushrooms" — and add a new chapter to the city's role in shaping wider drug policy.

The citizen initiative on the ballot followed the same tack taken by marijuana activists to decriminalize pot possession in 2005 in the city. That move was followed by statewide legalization in 2012. A number of other states have since broadly allowed marijuana sales and use by adults.

With all precincts reporting late Tuesday night, the "no" votes for the initiative held a substantial lead over the "yes" votes, according to unofficial returns.

Psilocybin decriminalization campaign organizers have said their only goal is to keep people out of jail in Denver for using or possessing the drug to cope with depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress and other conditions.

The initiative would effectively decriminalize use or possession of psilocybin by people 21 and older, making it the lowest enforcement priority for police and prosecutors. The measure does not legalize psilocybin or permit its sale by cannabis businesses.

Kevin Matthews, director of the Decriminalize Denver campaign, said psilocybin has helped him with depression for years.

"This is not something you have to take every day," the 33-year-old Denver native said. "It provides a lot of lasting benefits, weeks and months after one experience."

Psilocybin has been outlawed in the U.S. since the 1960s, and some researchers warn that it should only be used under medical supervision and can prompt paranoia and anxiety.

The federal government classifies psilocybin as a Schedule I drug, with no medical purpose and a high potential for abuse.

For decades, that status has stymied research into medical uses of psilocybin, but small, closely supervised studies in recent years have found that it can help treat anxiety and depression in cancer patients. Users have described seeing vivid colors and geometric patterns, and experiencing powerful spiritual connections and emotions.

Magic mushrooms have been used in religious practices for decades because of their powerful effect on perceptions and spiritual experiences. Those same effects have appealed to recreational users dating back to the 1960s counterculture movement.

A California effort to decriminalize psilocybin failed to qualify for the statewide ballot in 2018. Organizers in Oregon are trying to gather enough support to put an initiative to a statewide vote next year.

It took the pro-psilocybin organizers in Denver three tries to develop language approved by city officials for the ballot. They collected more than 8,000 signatures to qualify for Tuesday's election.

Tyler Williams, a financial planner, enlisted a friend to take his photo outside a Denver polling place before he voted 'yes.' Williams worked on the campaign's initial attempts to get on the ballot, motivated by what he called a positive experience using psilocybin to manage severe depression.

"That option should be available to everyone, without fear," said Williams, 29. "Just being able to vote for this is a huge victory."

Jeremiah Whitehead, a 44-year-old small business owner, voted no — saying he wants city officials to focus on lingering issues surrounding marijuana in the city, including a lack of businesses licensed for "social consumption" where people can legally use cannabis products and disputes over how marijuana tax money is used.

"We're still getting used to pot," he said. "Let's get that figured out before we add something else."

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock opposes the initiative along with District Attorney Beth McCann, but there has been no organized campaign against decriminalization. The city's election has largely focused on a six-way race for mayor and a heated effort to end Denver's "urban camping" ban that affects people without housing.

The proposed ordinance would also prevent city funds from being used to pursue criminal penalties on possession or use and create a panel to study the effects of the change.

"Nobody should be penalized for this substance," Matthews said. "One arrest is too many. No person deserves this kind of treatment for a substance this safe."

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Business
© Copyright 2019 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
1 dead, 8 hurt in Colorado school shooting, 2 in custody
School shooting in Colorado kills one, wounds eight students, before deputies arrest two suspects
1:04AM ( 19 minutes ago )
Denver 'magic mushroom' measure appears headed for defeat
Voters appear to reject an attempt to make Denver the first U.S. city to decriminalize the use of psilocybin, the psychoactive substance in "magic mushrooms"
1:03AM ( 20 minutes ago )
The Latest: Colorado school closes for week after shooting
A suburban Denver school where two gunmen opened fire, killing a teenager and wounding eight others, will be closed for the remainder of the week
12:55AM ( 28 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Proposed tobacco ban sparks fiery debate in Beverly Hills
A fiery debate is breaking out across Beverly Hills as people weigh in on whether the city of the rich and famous should become the first in the U.S. to outlaw the sale of tobacco products everywhere except a few cigar lounges
10:03PM ( 3 hours ago )
Google promises better privacy tools, smarter AI assistant
Google CEO Sundar Pichai kicked off the company's annual developer conference Tuesday with new privacy tools and updates to Google's artificially intelligent voice assistant
9:44PM ( 3 hours ago )
Oregon GOP a no show for education tax vote ahead of walkout
All 12 Republicans no show for a $1 billion education tax vote; teacher walkout planned
9:39PM ( 3 hours ago )
AP Business
1 dead, 8 hurt in Colorado school shooting, 2 in custody
School shooting in Colorado kills one, wounds eight students, before deputies arrest two suspects
1:04AM ( 19 minutes ago )
The Latest: Colorado school closes for week after shooting
A suburban Denver school where two gunmen opened fire, killing a teenager and wounding eight others, will be closed for the remainder of the week
12:55AM ( 28 minutes ago )
House Judiciary panel poised to hold Barr in contempt
House Judiciary Committee moving ahead with a vote to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress
12:38AM ( 45 minutes ago )
Newspaper: Trump lost more than $1 billion from 1985 to 1994
The New York Times is reporting that Donald Trump's businesses lost more than $1 billion dollars from 1985 to 1994, based on tax information the newspaper acquired
12:36AM ( 48 minutes ago )
Maroon's OT goal lifts Blues past Stars in Game 7
Pat Maroon scores in 2nd overtime as St. Louis Blues beat Dallas Stars 2-1 in Game 7
12:24AM ( 59 minutes ago )