Here's Why Denver Just Voted to Decriminalise 'Magic' Mushrooms
Denver, Colorado has become the first city in the USA to decriminalise the possession and personal use of psilocybin mushrooms.
The vote in favour was a nail biting event, achieved only by the tiniest of margins, with 50.5% voting YES and 49.4% voting NO.
Of course, a ballot on decriminalising a federally prohibited drug is not new to Denverites. In 2005, Denver was one of the first major cities in the USA to decriminalise the possession of cannabis - a business which now, more than a decade later, is booming globally. And like dominos, there are whispers that neighbouring states of Oregon and California are also set to take the decriminalisation of psilocybin mushrooms to the ballot by 2020.
Psilocybin mushrooms, or ‘magic mushrooms’ as you might know them, have been consumed by humans for their ‘magical’ properties for Millenia. From the rock paintings of prehistoric civilizations in the Saharan Desert, to the Aztec civilizations of Central America, psilocybin mushrooms are believed to have played a role in their ritualistic and spiritual ceremonies. The Aztecs loved the psychedelic fungi so much that they called it ‘God’s Flesh’.
So what’s all the fuss about Magic Mushrooms?
Psilocybin. It’s a naturally occurring psychoactive compound found in several different types of mushrooms, which, when ingested in a moderate dosage, will often have a range of (great) side effects, including but not limited to, the dissolution of ego, intensification of emotions, deepened introspection and hallucinogenic sensations.
More importantly, psilocybin has shown the potential to address some of the more prevalent psychiatric disorders that are affecting people around the world today. It’s shown particularly promising results in treating conditions like depression, anxiety, and addictions. In a small double-blind study conducted by Johns Hopkins in 2016, researchers reported that a substantial majority - about 80% - of people suffering from cancer-related anxiety or depression found considerable relief for up to six months from a single large dose of psilocybin. Other such studies have also shown psilocybin to be effective in treating alcohol and cigarette addictions and helping war veterans with PTSD.
At the most primary level, this is a question of freedom. Shouldn’t we, as individuals be granted access to the plant medicines of our choosing, if only for our own spiritual and perspective enhancements? Moreover at a time when mental health issues are becoming commonplace, it seems logical, no, it seems imperative, that we accept these gifts from nature and put them to good use.
Just like cannabis, psilocybin mushrooms remain federally illegal in the US, listed as a schedule 1 drug and deemed unsafe for use even under medical supervision.
While we’re seeing radical changes occurring across the globe, we still have a long way to go to undo the damage of prohibition of natural substances, but this YES vote is certainly a step in the right direction.