magic mushrooms
A study found psilocybin mushrooms can cure depression without dampening emotions. Getty Images

Denver on Tuesday passed an ordinance to decriminalize psilocybin, also known as “magic mushrooms,” making it the first city in the United States to do so.

The proposed ordinance, Initiative 301, which was designed to “decriminalize the use and possession of mushrooms that contain psilocybin,” initially appeared to have headed for a defeat. However, on Wednesday night, the city released “final unofficial results” which showed 89,320 people to have voted in favor of decriminalizing, while 87,341 others voted against it, a vote margin of 50.56 to 49.44 percent. Election officials said the results will be verified May 16.

“The last 24 hours have been a hell of a ride. Most of the votes are in, though there are still some outstanding absentee ballots. This is the unofficial, official victory,” said Kevin Matthews, the head of Decriminalize Denver, which headed the initiative, the Los Angeles Times reported.

He added that this sends a message across to the rest of the United States.

“That message is that the American people are ready for a broader conversation around psilocybin and that no person should ever be treated like a criminal for using a mushroom,” he said.

Decriminalization would essentially stop the local authorities from imposing fines for possession of the mushrooms for personal use.

Calling the ordinance “remarkable,” Dr. Charles Grob, a psychiatrist who has researched hallucinogens for over three decades, said, “It’s the first time in the history of this country that a Schedule I psychedelic has been decriminalized.”

He, however, warned that it must be handled with responsibility.

“In Denver, the public health authorities will need to roll out a strong public health campaign. They will need to explain to people the effects of the drugs and how they can be safely utilized. People need to be told that mushrooms should not be mixed with alcohol or other substances. Driving a vehicle would be ill-advised,” he said.

Though possession of psilocybin mushrooms is illegal in the U.S., there are other countries where consumption of the mushroom variety is legal.

  • Jamaica - Magic mushrooms are openly sold everywhere in the Caribbean island nation as the consumption or sale of it is never regulated.
  • Brazil – There is no law prohibiting the possession and sale of magic mushrooms in the country. The magic mushrooms are sold mainly on specialized websites.
  • British Virgin Islands – The possession and consumption of the mushroom is not prohibited in the country. Though the sale of magic mushrooms is illegal, there are businesses that sell them openly to tourists.
  • The Netherlands - The consumption of psilocybin in the form of “magic truffles” is legal in the country despite a law that was designed to prohibit the use of it. However, many forms of psilocybin mushroom are illegal to sell or possess in the country.
  • Portugal – Though psilocybin mushrooms have been decriminalized in the country, a person can be sent for court-mandated rehabilitation or therapy if caught by authorities.

There are other countries where psilocybin is partially legal which include Austria, Spain and the Czech Republic. In these countries, it is legal to cultivate and sell the mushroom spores. In countries including Australia, Denmark, Germany, France and Japan, the consumption, sale and possession of magic mushroom is totally prohibited.