Monday, May 6, 2019

Colorado: The First Vote To Decriminalize Psychedelic Mushrooms Is Happening ...

Chivis Martinez Borderland Beat from CityLab



In 2005, Denver residents voted to become the first major U.S. city to legalize possession of small amounts of marijuana. Two years later, they voted to decriminalize cannabis entirely. For the city’s elections this spring, they’re being asked if they want to do the same thing for psilocybin, the active ingredient in hallucinogenic mushrooms.

If passed, Initiative 301 would decriminalize the possession and use of a drug that is illegal in all states and at the federal level. No matter the result, it marks the first time in United States history that the legal status of psilocybin has been challenged, and it’s putting Denver once again at the center of a debate on drug policy.


The local campaign to decriminalize psilocybin is following the cannabis legalization playbook closely. The initiative is worded almost exactly like the 2007 marijuana law. If passed, psilocybin would still be illegal to possess, produce, or sell, but enforcing the laws related to the drug would become the city’s lowest priority. The measure would also create a mayor-appointed panel charged with analyzing the effects of loosening psilocybin restrictions. Voters began receiving ballots by mail last week, and the election coincides with mayoral and city council elections on May 7.

State laws would remain unchanged, meaning state prosecutors could continue to bring psilocybin cases to court in Denver. While this type of decriminalization law may reduce drug arrests, drug policy experts consider it more of a symbolic gesture that could precede full legalization, much as cannabis laws did in the mid-2000s.

That fact hasn’t been lost in Denver’s debate over the issue. Opponents say decriminalization of psilocybin could eventually lead to full legalization, putting Denver—a city already known for its embrace of recreational marijuana—down the path toward becoming a drug haven.

Kevin Matthews is the campaign manager of Decriminalize Denver, and a stay-at-home dad who credits psilocybin with helping him manage severe depression.

“It helped me put my life back together,” he said. “It felt like a part of me had been awakened from the depths of the challenging mental state that I had been in.”

His group gathered more than 5,000 validated signatures from city residents to get the law on the ballot. He says Decriminalize Denver isn’t focused on full legalization, nor does it want to increase the public’s access to mushrooms. Instead, the group hopes that the mayor’s psilocybin panel would make findings inform the conversation about the drug, while keeping those who already use psilocybin out of jail.

“Things usually start on the local level when it comes to drug policy, then they go to the state level.”
The initiative has spurred little local commotion in either direction. It has support from the local Green Party and Libertarian Party. Michael Hancock, the current mayor up for reelection, has publicly opposed Initiative 301, as has Denver District Attorney Beth McCann. While other candidates have weighed in when asked, none have made it part of their platform. 

Matthews isn’t the only one to credit hallucinogens with aiding mental health. Researchers at John Hopkins University, the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, and other research groups and universities have found evidence that psilocybin may help treat psychological disorders and addiction. He and other supporters of the ballot initiative say decriminalization is the first step toward allowing these potential treatments to move forward.

Art Way, the Colorado state director for the Drug Policy Alliance, which supports wider drug decriminalization reforms, said he sees the city-level ballot as an important step toward legalization at higher levels. “Things usually start on the local level when it comes to drug policy, then they go to the state level,” he said. “This definitely follows the path that marijuana legalization took here in Colorado.”

As the first state to legalize marijuana, Colorado has become a proving ground for drug reform policies. Five years after recreational weed first went on sale, the state has seen a boost in its tax revenues and fewer arrests for possession, but there have also been negative effects. And while there have been very few vocal opponents to the psilocybin initiative, the fact that the drug appears to be on a similar path has raised alarm among those who believe recreational cannabis has harmed the state.

Since marijuana was legalized, Colorado has seen a rise in adult cannabis use as well as an increase in drugged driving incidents. The black market for pot has also grown as criminal outfits have begun exporting Colorado weed to states where it remains illegal.

“There is an assumption that these drugs are harmless and that they don’t affect cultures, but there is no science that says that these drugs are harmless,” said Jeff Hunt, the director of the Centennial Institute, a conservative think tank run out of Colorado Christian University. “We are losing our reputation as being a world-class city and quickly becoming known as the drug capital of the world.”

Equally troubling for Hunt is the potential for drug marketers to make bogus or unproven health claims, a phenomenon that has become frequent in Colorado with recreational marijuana and other cannabis products.

“It’s like a snake oil salesmen going from town to town saying that it can cure everything without any research,” he said. “There is a reason we have things like the FDA.”


Hunt and other marijuana opponents see the potential for similar problems with psilocybin. Though mushrooms are consistently ranked among the least harmful drugs by medical researchers—as is marijuana—psilocybin use can still have side effects ranging from mild anxiety to psychotic episodes. And while there is promising research on the use of psychedelics in psychology, the science is still fairly new. Even some proponents of drug policy reform, including Art Way, aren’t totally sold on the ballot initiative’s potential for keeping people out of jail. While possession of psilocybin can carry steep penalties—up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $100,000 in Colorado—arrests are relatively rare and most defendants avoid jail time.

“We don’t really have people in prison for psilocybin,” Way said. “We like to see this kind of grassroots democracy, but we are concerned that drug exceptionalism is taking away from a wider drug decriminalization law.”

But despite some of the pitfalls revealed by recreational marijuana, support for pot legalization in the U.S. grew from 36 percent in 2005, when Denver first decriminalized the drug, to 66 percent in 2018. This growing support for marijuana has emboldened drug legalization and decriminalization advocates, and many believe that opens the door for legalizing psilocybin.

Still, most psilocybin activists believe that mushrooms would need a different framework than cannabis. The drug’s public supporters tend to focus on its therapeutic potential more than its recreational uses. Even if the drug were fully legalized in Colorado, Matthews doesn’t see psilocybin storefronts in the state’s future.

“I think that’s irresponsible,” he said.

Instead of a recreational model, Matthews says he sees the state implementing a services model where psilocybin could be prescribed and used under the guidance of a licensed therapist. A law creating a services model will appear on the Oregon ballot in 2020.

33 comments:

  1. Interesting.

    PEACE,LOVE,DRUGS. NOT WAR!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Why would u want to eat something that grows in shit馃挬

      Delete
    2. 1:39 I've had it with you,
      pinchis mariguanos baratos.
      Say No to drugs.

      Delete
    3. 10:15 - “Say no to drugs” hasn’t worked in all of human history, so what makes you think it would work now? Humans naturally want to experience different states of consciousness for different reasons. Always have, always will.

      Who are you, or anybody else, to say we humans shouldn’t be allowed to make that choice on their own accord? Do you breath down peoples necks over eating double cheese burgers and french fries at McDonalds 3 times a week? If not, why? Heart Disease is the number one killer. If it’s for ethical reasons I hope you’re making sure none of your clothes, shoes, devices, etc aren’t made in sweat shops.

      Phelpso

      Delete
  2. If you ever wanna become "woke" go camp out in the desert for a few days and take some shrooms. You'll have a new outlook on like... or atleast until the euphoric high wears off.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Along with a severe case of sunburn 馃お

      Delete
    2. What a stupid thing to say. You and I both know by taking some shrooms in the middle of nowhere isn't gonna make you an Einstein or a mark Twain. You're just a fucking druggy loser man.

      Delete
    3. I'll take a beautiful national park over a fucking desert

      Delete
    4. 4:34 - Being “woke” is t the same thing as being a genius, smart ass. You’re just another mouth breather speaking from a place of ignorance.

      Delete
  3. Hopefully this dont attract even more
    outsiders into colorado

    ReplyDelete
  4. Yes but somehow from the driver's seat the same seems to be true of the L.A. skyline, or with kristal the interchanges in Houston Centro, with opioids, the intense rushhour traffic annoyance becomes no problemo.

    It's people who cause the problems and with alcohol poisoning killing what 35.000 people per year I do not want to see driving-while-stupid raise that number to 50.000 or 90.000

    I hate to see it but many districts in California treat this danger as a lucrative revenue enhancer more than a safety issue, pay enough money to local, county and state and the bad vibes go away.

    Who would shout the loudest against changing the laws? Why the very same group that profits from revenue enhancing ... California legislators or their brothers or sisters -- the 20.000 drunk driving lawyers.

    I am for using part of that fine for a "reality school" forcing those with no personal self control to watch movies taken from nauseating bloody DUI accidents. People who lost their home, or limbs. Restrictive licenses that permit sobriety testing anytime, anywhere. It's all a big joke until you get a telephone call that informs you a friend or family member is now an official statistic.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Many years ago I attended a DUI impact class when volunteering my services. To listen to family members loosing everything from someone's irresponsible behavior is heartbreaking. Where medical bills are not covered by medical insurance companies for services, procedures and prescription drugs. Added with foreclosures and sales of a homes to cover expenses for a loved one who will never work again has become a common practice in the US. Along with adjusting work schedules and round the clock family caretakers.

      This perception you speak of; Money Over Safety is real. The signs of economic struggles are everywhere and revenue is direly needed for government operations. Putting profits and safety aside like that of The Big energy companies and pharmaceutical companies to do what they please with their lobby money.
      Can only imagine the risks along with the death tolls from doing such.

      Nice comment of the reality to come if passed.

      E42

      Delete
  5. Hope this passes!

    Phelpso

    ReplyDelete
  6. Well last time i checked cartels and criminals really don't give 2 poops about psychedelic drugs because there's no market for that besides weekend ravers and neo hippies . Maybe in the 60s-70s were a useful tool if you planned to be a new age cult leader.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When will Peyote become legal?
      It will be the end of 50 year old Cactus, but what the hell...
      People entertain themselves with the most incredible mamadas,
      I guess chicken, burras pardas, and borregas got too old.

      Delete
    2. The money for cartels now are in the production of fentanyl. Now than ever due to the recent ban by China of fentanyl. Where poppies are not as lucrative because of the cheaper cost to produce fentanyl and its potency.
      Bigger profits with a less cost output.
      Adjusting their criminal structure to accommodate the demands of the consumers. Continuing to enrich themselves in the drug game.
      Labs have been recently discovered in Sinaloa for the production of such devastating drug.

      Delete
    3. 9:07 - yeah I agree, people should stay away from peyote for the simple fact it does take decades for the buttons to mature. There are a lot of other cacti containing mescaline that grow at a much faster rate.

      Quick story. I took 490mg of Mescaline HCL on vacation in Hawaii and went snorkeling. It was wild. However I’m extremely familiar with psychedelics and am a strong swimmer. Not something I’d recommend to the average Joe.

      Phelpso

      Delete
  7. I’m all for legal weed and hash but magic mushrooms is a step too far.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What's the difference between these drugs? They both alter the senses to function effectively!
      Medical purposes to addressing medical issues is understandable. But not for everyone's use just because.

      Delete
    2. Why? Mushrooms check people’s ego. We live in a world that could use a lot more of that.

      Phelpso

      Delete
  8. Replies
    1. 6:48 eat more frijoles, you will be the author of campion Peyotes, or you could just get a fart bag, and make a real loud mess at church, laughter is the best medecine.
      I rather throw Real Rotten Tomatoes.

      Delete
  9. Rocky Mountain High . . . Colorado . .

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  10. I am a supporter of this initiative. When I was young, I had a profound religious experience while on shrooms! Strengthened my beliefs to this day. Happened 25 years ago, but remember it as if it were yesterday. There has been research on microdosing for medication resistant depression. Plenty of research on cannabis benefits too, that help with a whole range of ailments. Unfortunately there are people who won't use these drugs responsibly and make those that do look bad.
    Mn

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 5:44 research all you want, but spare me the religious aspect of anything, some wise ass said religion is the opium of the peoples, and I believe him, he did not propound God was his witness.

      Delete
    2. Responsible users will be the issue for many against this. Like all drugs and alcohol where abuse is the problem.

      Delete
    3. That's what Scientology's for.
      Suggest you enroll than shrooms.

      Delete
  11. Hell I vote for government subsidized heroin in Colorado ! Meth also !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You equate mushrooms to meth and heroin? You’re a fool if you really believe that all drugs were created equal.

      Phelpso

      Delete
  12. Like all states following the pathway for legalization of marijuana. Revenue is the real reason for states to legalize marijuana. Casinos are but a fraction of what's generated by the legalization of cannabis. Money to fund the mismanagement of pensions and infrastructural projects. Added with the extra money into politicians pockets.
    Why else would moral values be compromised?
    ITS ALL ABOUT THE BENJAMINS BABY.....

    E42

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Along with VERIFIED IDENTIFICATION CARDS. Just another way to get revenue for a strapped up government. Guess passports or driver's licenses / state ID are not sufficient anymore.

      Delete
  13. a trip on shrooms was horrible in my experience much darker than a acid trip which was pretty enlightning and mellow

    ReplyDelete
  14. Another law for a device to make us sedentary and obedient.

    -Black Stone

    ReplyDelete

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