Updated as of 12:30 AM midnight, CEST (6:30 PM EST, 4:30 PM local time)
Update 4:30 PM local Denver time: It wasn’t looking good at the end of last night, but Psilocybin has passed in Denver! The unofficial final tally is 50% Yes to 49% No. See below to see what that means!
Update 1:00 AM local Denver time: As of the results disseminated so far, the vote in Denver has not yet been called. Further, nearly a quarter of votes have not even yet been counted! While the ‘No’ side seems likely to claim success, the margin has narrowed from over 10% at 7 PM, down to only 3.3% as of writing. This gap of only 5000 can be partially attributed to over 7000 ‘under-votes’ (“Occurs when a contest remains unvoted.”) or abstentions, so far.
Initiated Ordinance 301 is a municipal law intending to reframe magic mushrooms in the eyes and actions of local law enforcement in Denver, Colorado, USA. In this regard, it was a petition of the people of Denver that received enough signatures to be put to a public vote. Considering that legislation regarding drugs largely falls under state and federal statutes and laws, there is only so much that can be done by cities and other municipal decisions.
However, cities do have the power to make decisions regarding their budget, the approach that was taken by Denver. The Ordinance regarding psilocybin makes some clear and concise requests to shape the approach to magic mushrooms, not the outcomes. The primary aim was two-fold: to ‘deprioritize’ and ‘prohibit spending’. The language of the initial petition to the city was largely unchanged and eventually evolved into:
Shall the voters of the City and County of Denver adopt an ordinance to the Denver Revised Municipal Code that would make the personal use and personal possession of psilocybin mushrooms by persons twenty-one (21) years of age and older the city’s lowest law-enforcement priority, prohibit the city from spending resources to impose criminal penalties for the personal use and personal possession of psilocybin mushrooms by persons twenty-one (21) years of age and older, and establish the psilocybin mushroom policy review panel to assess and report on the effects of the ordinance?
The silver lining is that the vote sparked public discourse and a craving for more information both in Denver and around the world. This is yet another small battle in the larger war for recognition, understanding and agency. This progressive city in Colorado has paved the way for future efforts both locally and globally.
Either way, the votes are not yet counted and psilocybin may yet come out on top. Regardless, the ‘psilocybin mushroom policy review panel’ will no doubt remain an option as the topic represents a significant talking point. Already, the noise made in Denver has attracted the attention of a more significant figure.
With cannabis already legal in Colorado, allowing a booming trade, Governor Jared Polis is poised to extend certain protections concerning other Schedule 1 & 2 drugs in the state. HB19-1263 has already passed legislature and needs only a signature from Gov. Polis; it limits punishments for ‘single-use possession’ charges from felony to misdemeanor.
Psilocybin, and other vilified psychedelics, would fall under this purview. While Denver seeks to avoid prosecution altogether, this bill change would at least limit the punishment should charges be filed for possession. This would effectively ‘defelonize’ simple drug possession in the state, while leaving dealing and trafficking untouched.
The law is currently on the desk of Gov. Polis, though expectation is high that he will sign, said Rep. Leslie Herod, the sponsor of the bill. She, along with the governor, spoke positively of the legislation at a news conference on May 6, 2019. “We’ve worked with her, I’m supportive of the bill,” he said. Aside from the obvious benefits, this change could save the state $8-14 million over the next five years.
Polis has 30 days to decide on the outcome of the bill. He could add his signature, signing it into law; he could allow the timer to run out and have it automatically applied, without his name; or he could choose to veto at any point in the next month. Considering the legislation passed the house through the final days of their most recent session, they are currently not in session. This means that lawmakers would not be able to override a veto attempt on the part of the Governor.