Denver voters are set to decide whether to decriminalise possession of small amounts of the hallucinogenic drug psilocybin, which would make it the first city in the US to halt prosecution of people caught with magic mushrooms.
The Colorado city will ask residents to vote on the proposal in May, which does not seek to legalise magic mushrooms but instead make them a low priority for law enforcement.
Under the proposals, growing would also be decriminalised, although the changes would stop short of allowing the drug to be sold.
If successful, it would follow the state-wide relaxing of laws around cannabis which came into force in 2012.
Election officials announced the referendum would be held after a petition asking for such a poll received 5,500 supporting signatures.
“After reviewing signatures submitted by the Denver Psilocybin Mushroom Decriminalization Initiative it has been determined that they submitted a sufficient number of valid signatures and the question will appear on the 7 May municipal election ballot,” the city’s Elections Division said in a statement.
Kevin Matthews, director of the initiative, said that even if psilocybin wasn’t decriminalized as a result of the poll, he hoped the resulting debate would educate people about the drug and reduce the number of users going to prison.
“I think it’s going to be pretty big,” the 33-year-old, who says he use mushrooms for depression, told The Denver Post. “There are a lot of people throughout our country that want to see the drug policy laws change around psychedelics and psilocybin in particular.
“There’s a lot of support, and now that we’re on the ballot and this is official, we have a real chance here to have this national conversation.”
But many in the city have already indicated they would be against any such move, including the mayor Michael Hancock.
“He will not be supporting this ballot measure,” his office said.
Additional reporting by agencies
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