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Denver votes against initiative to decriminalize psilocybin

Late results showed nearly 55% of voters had rejected proposal on psychoactive substance in magic mushrooms

Voters on Tuesday appeared to reject an attempt to make Denver the first US city to decriminalize psilocybin the psychoactive substance in magic mushrooms and add a new chapter to the citys 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.

Late results showed nearly 55% of voters had rejected the proposed ordinance.

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 US 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 Tuesdays election.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/may/08/denver-votes-against-initiative-to-decriminalize-psilocybin-magic-mushrooms

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