‘A grand experiment’: how ‘shrooms made Denver America’s most drug-friendly city


With the decriminalization of psilocybin, the Colorado city has cemented its pioneering drug-friendly status
held up the jarful of mushroom caps and stems, most of which showed the “blue bruising” unique to mushrooms that contain the natural hallucinogenic compound psilocybin. He showed me his stash at a Denver coffee shop. M is an IT director, he buys his psychedelic mushrooms on the darknet, and about once a year, he grinds three grams’ worth into powder, which he then puts into capsules.

If police had walked in while we were talking, M could theoretically have been cited for possession. But as of this month, that has become unlikely. On 7 May 2019, Denver voters passed Initiative 301, a ballot measure to decriminalize psilocybin and direct local law enforcement to give psychedelic mushrooms the lowest arrest priority for adults 21 and older.

The fungi will still be an illicit, schedule 1 controlled substance under state and federal law, and selling it remains a felony in Denver. But the measure, which passed with a slim 50.6% vote majority, in effect told police to look the other way when it comes to possession, use and cultivation of psychedelic mushrooms in the Mile High City. It also instructed the city not to devote resources to psilocybin prosecutions and created a review panel to assess the impact of the new regulations.

Though modest in scope, the initiative attracted the kind of rapt attention

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