The citizen initiative on the ballot followed the same tack taken by marijuana activists to decriminalize pot possession in 2005 in the city. Campaign organizers say their only goal is to prevent people from going to jail.
The language of Initiative 301 also would have prohibited "the city from spending resources to impose criminal penalties" for personal use, possession and growth.
"Denver is quickly becoming the illicit drug capital of the world", Hunt said. However, some recent research has suggested that psilocybin may be effective in treating some forms of depression.
If the initiative was approved, psilocybin would still remain illegal under both Colorado and federal law. The FDA describes breakthrough therapy as created to expedite development of a drug after preliminary evidence shows "the drug may demonstrate substantial improvement over available therapy". A number of other states have since broadly allowed marijuana sales and use by adults.
Denver's initiative would effectively decriminalize use or possession of psilocybin by people 21 and older, making it the lowest enforcement priority for local police and prosecutors. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration classifies the drug as a Schedule 1 substance, meaning the agency has deemed that it has a high potential for abuse and now has no accepted medical use. According to the Denver Elections Division, ballots are still being counted and voters should know the final fate of the initiative this afternoon, May 8. Matthews said his own experience with mushrooms had helped him overcome major depression.
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The initiative also establishes a review panel to analyze the public safety, administrative, fiscal and health impacts of the decriminalization of mushrooms.
Activists in California failed to get a similar initiative on the ballot a year ago, and supporters in OR are hoping to put the matter to a vote statewide in 2020.
Denver mayor Michael Hancock and district attorney Beth McCann oppose the proposal, though there has been little organised opposition. Organizers in OR, meanwhile, are trying to gain enough support to put an initiative to a statewide vote next year.
In January, the group was able to collect over 9,500 signatures to get the measure added to the ballot.
"Nobody should be penalized for this substance", Matthews said.