M held up the jar full of mushroom capsules and stems, most of which showed the "bruises" that only mushrooms contain, containing the natural hallucinogenic compound psilocybin. He showed me his supply in a Denver cafe. M is IT director, he buys his psychedelic mushrooms in the dark net and grinds about three grams of powder about once a year, which he then packs into capsules.
If the police had come in while we talked, M could theoretically have been cited for possession. However, this month is unlikely. On 7 May 2019, Denver voters adopted Initiative 301, an electoral measure to de-criminalize psilocybin and directly enforce local laws to give psychedelic mushrooms the lowest detention priority for adults 21 and older.
The mushrooms will continue to be an unauthorized substance controlled by List 1, and the sale remains a criminal offense in Denver. The measure, passed by a narrow majority of 50.6%, called on the police to refrain from looking after the possession, use and cultivation of psychedelic mushrooms in the Mile High City. It also ordered the city not to provide funds for the prosecution of psilocybin, and set up a review panel to assess the impact of the new regulations.
Although modest, the initiative attracted the attention of many who experience unprecedented drug policy votes.
No other US community has ever relaxed law enforcement regulations specifically for psychedelic mushrooms. The measure was considered both as a barometer for change of opinion at the national level and as a model for cloning in other advanced regions. It was also another departure from the "war on drugs" in a state already known to be the first in the nation to authorize the sale of recreational cannabis.
The next to a new Amsterdam
Colorado legalized marijuana in 2012. Seven years after Denver decided to decriminalize his property in an electoral initiative strikingly similar in language to the psilocybin proposal. Be it the legacy of the freedom-loving frontiersmen of the West, the high tolerance for an ever-increasing cannabis culture or the same cool mood as Jack Kerouac, John Denver and Hunter S. Thompson, something about Colorado has made its capital The city is what America is in terms of liberal drug policy comes closest to a new Amsterdam.
For M, who had his first child in 2016, the mushroom Decriminalization efforts were a relief. "My biggest problem was that as a dad I have a problem when I'm in trouble and I'm still trying to be a pillar of my family, I feel better when I'm doing what's good for me and sure I'm not jeopardizing caring for my son, "he said.
Denver's prosecutor prosecuted only 11 cases of psilocybin between 2016 and 2018, resulting in more than 9,200 criminal prosecutions for drug-related crime. Therefore, the law reform will be less effective than the sense of ease that it conveys to people like M who are fascinated by psilocybin and yet intimidated by its illegality.
The organizers told the Guardian they expect the number of "psychedelic constituents" in Denver to increase as more and more people take advantage of the burgeoning underground movements of therapists, physicians and other harm reduction professionals who claim to have conducted hallucinogenic experiences contribute to the treatment of depression. Anxiety, addiction or posttraumatic stress.
M is a recreational user who uses psychedelic mushrooms for therapeutic purposes.
"For me it's just a push on the reset button," he explained, saying the mushrooms helped him focus on what interests him. "Things in everyday life can get in the way of what you know, which is important, but it will result in a bright and restored view of life," he said. "I really love that and I hope more people will have the same kind of experience."
Mason Tvert, a marijuana activist who has directed cannabis legalization campaigns in Colorado and other states, says electoral access is what drives states like Colorado and Oregon to change.
"If you're thinking about 'Why Denver? "Speak, it's not just the libertarian mood or the youth, but the fact that there is a viable and viable way to put something on the ballot," Tvert said. "I'm not saying it's easy, but it's possible."
Citizens' election initiatives would often be withdrawn or made more difficult by legislation in other states, Tvert added, while places like Florida or New York might be too big and too expensive to be successful without large sums of money.
Another factor that the advocates of drug law liberalization noted during their campaigns was public reluctance over the government's position, which they linked to a generally failed drug policy, and decades of misinformation about the harmfulness of substances that exist today used to treat serious illnesses.
"Our victory is a clear signal to the rest of the country that it's time to talk more about psilocybin," said Kevin Matthews, Initiative 301 Campaign Manager. "In many ways, too, we need to talk about our drug policy. "
"It was life changing"
Initiative 301 culminated with 10 staff members and 50 volunteers remanding Denver to inform about the status of "breakthrough therapy" that psilocybin-assisted treatments received in October 2018 from the US Food and Drug Administration. The designation, according to studies by Johns Hopkins, UCLA, New York University, and other leading medical institutions that displayed psychedelic mushrooms, can alleviate treatment-resistant depression without the risk of physical dependence or fatal overdose.
"A really professional approach was important," said Matthews. "We have the duty to dissuade psychedelics from the stigma of the 60s and 70s. Education was the key. Many people who opposed it changed their minds when we talked face-to-face and explained that there are many potential benefits here. At least, if they were against, people had to get on the fence and do their own research. "
The path that led Matthews to "decriminalize Denver" and lead the psilocybin initiative strangely began at the West Point Military Academy. Matthews developed as a cadet of severe depression. He was released on medical parole, but felt lost only when he returned to Denver without the purpose he had as a prospective army officer. He gathered his first experiences with psychedelic mushrooms on an afternoon when he walked around the city with three friends, visited a park and relaxed in a house to get him out of his grief.
Matthews warned that being careful was important. He urged people with a genetic predisposition to bipolar disorder or schizophrenia or people with severe depression to talk to a doctor and examine available resources for a guided experience rather than experimenting at home or on their own.
"But what could be an outside recreational experience can be a very therapeutic and transforming experience for the person under the influence," he said. "It was life-changing for me."
"Straight from the marijuana game book"
The Mayor of Denver, Michael B. Hancock, and Attorney Beth McCann were among the few elected officials to oppose the 301 initiative. They each expressed concerns about the drug's use and potential damage to the city's reputation, in case it became known as a resort drug use.
Some residents also fear that the measure will attract unwanted tourists and residents. Colorado has already experienced a boom in marijuana tourism since legalizing recreational cannabis. And the Anecdotes are speculating anecdotally that a flood of new residents, who wanted to grow and smoke without fear of arrest, is behind the increased home and rental prices.
After the mushroom poll, the mayor pledged to acknowledge the outcome, and a DA spokesman told the Guardian that McCann, although psilocybin charges were already a tiny part of their job, wanted to announce that "they basically believe that The war on drugs results in too many people being arrested for drug allegations, and she supports treatment and transfer to the detention center. "
Jeff Hunt, director of the Centennial Institute, a conservative think tank at Colorado Christian University in a suburb of Denver, is a community leader less interested in deviating from the "war on drugs." He said the Conservative community was taken aback by what happened to the city. "I grew up here," Hunt added. "This was a wonderful city to start a family. Now you have to deal with the reputation that suits you, if you want to consume illegal drugs, and that's unfair. We are ultimately going in the wrong direction. "
Hunt fears hallucinogenic mushrooms are on their way to recreational use, noting that initiative 301 comes "directly from the marijuana game book," focusing on positive medical studies, people with mental health needs, and support for the population Reform of criminal justice. He predicts that with the agreement of law enforcement agencies, more people will experiment with psychedelic mushrooms and that future campaigns will aim to bring psychedelics out of the shadows and into taxable trading.
"We're constantly re-inventing big tobacco by starting companies that have a financial incentive to get as many people as possible to use their products," Hunt said about the recreational drug movement. "We will look at these issues for a generation, just as we are dealing with the effects of tobacco and opioids … Everyone said this was a great experiment, and I agree with that, unfortunately, I think that's wrong with experimenting , "
A strange journey
On election night in Denver, "psychonauts" like Matthews had the feeling of having a bad trip. The initiative followed by several percentage points and only the following afternoon (exactly at 16:20) Twitter users noticed) that the election results were published. The belated votes were the decisive factor for Initiative 301 with 2,291 votes. When Matthews heard the news, he screamed so cheerfully that the dogs barked at his neighbors, and he guessed the people in the neighborhood were wondering what he was wearing.
Campaigns in a city like Denver are one thing; Organizing and financing a nationwide initiative is much more difficult, admits Matthews. However, this is the prerequisite for proper legalization.
A psilocybin measure in California could not be elected in 2018, which is why the country's supporters are seeking legislative support to try again in 2020. In Oregon, activists were given approval to vote next year to reduce criminal sanctions and create a regulatory system for "Guided Psilocybin Services." If successful, the state will be the first to legalize "magic" mushrooms for medical purposes.
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