In a close vote, Denver became the first U.S. city to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms, also known as magic mushrooms, psychedelic mushrooms, or simply “shrooms.” Although mushrooms are not legal in Denver, the ordinance prohibits the prosecution or arrest of adults over the age of 21 who possess them.1 The ordinance also allows adults to grow mushrooms for personal use.
According to reports from USA Today, the changes could go into effect as early as 2020 and an organized panel will be tasked with assessing the impact of psilocybin mushrooms on public safety, finances, and public health.2
Although local police in Denver will consider magic mushrooms very low priority, the DEA office in Denver will continue to prosecute cases of psilocybin possession and trafficking, as it is still a controlled substance under federal law.
What are Magic Mushrooms?
“Magic mushrooms” is a slang term for mushrooms that contain the psychoactive substance psilocybin, which causes auditory and visual hallucinations. Currently, magic mushrooms have no FDA-approved medical use in the U.S. and they are classified as a Schedule I drug.
There are about 40 different species of psychoactive mushrooms in the southwest American states and Mexico and they are widely abused for their psychedelic effects. Although magic mushrooms are not considered addictive, users can develop a tolerance very quickly and some users may develop cravings for them.
Although recreational use of magic mushrooms is risky and comes with a host of negative side effects like panic, confusion, and accidental injury, recent research studies show psilocybin might be an effective medical treatment for treatment-resistant depression.3,4
Researchers are also currently conducting clinical trials to determine whether psilocybin could be used to treat psychiatric conditions like drug and alcohol addiction, depression, and headaches.
So What’s the Big Deal?
Critics of the new ordinance in Denver say the decriminalization of magic mushrooms is just a small step away from widespread recreational abuse, which would have serious consequences. The Denver area has already seen some negative effects as a result of the recreational use of marijuana, including an increase in pot-related ER visits with users citing symptoms like uncontrollable vomiting, paranoia, and psychosis.5
If the public opinion of magic mushrooms continues to migrate toward recreational use, residents of the Denver area could suffer some additional negative consequences as a result. Regardless, Denver’s decision to decriminalize magic mushrooms is a clear indication that society’s perception of psychedelic drugs like magic mushrooms, LSD, marijuana, and mescaline has changed over the years.