Last updated: November 27, 2023
Many people are wondering why Denver even considered decriminalizing psychedelic mushrooms. They are classed as a Schedule 1 drug by the DEA. Meaning that in the federal government’s view, they have no medicinal value. There is little chance, though, that users can become addicted to psilocybin which is the hallucinogenic found in psychedelic mushrooms.
Still, illicit drug use is a huge problem in our country.
That being the case, why, then, has Denver opted to become the first US city to lessen the consequence of being caught possessing this drug?
Is there a method to the madness?
First, we should clarify that the city of Denver didn’t vote to legalize psychedelic mushrooms. The people voted to decriminalize them a degree. This drug remains an illegal substance under state and federal law. You may not sell or distribute this drug. Nothing has changed there.
However, if you are over the age of 21 and are found with mushrooms in your possession, Initiative 301 changed the ranking of the charge against you. It’s a two-party change, by the way. The person found with them in their possession carries the lowest possible law enforcement priority. The law also stops the city of Denver from spending financial resources to pursue the crime.
Advocates claim decriminalizing mushrooms helps the city’s budget. There are more funds to put toward pursuing serious and violent crimes. They also claim that psilocybin is a safe drug since there is little chance of addiction.
Tuned in to what?
It’s true that hallucinogens rarely cause addiction or physical health problems.
Studies show that once you make the decision to “turn on, tune in, and drop out” the effects of hallucinogenic drugs can be life-altering. Even a single dose taken can cause the user to experience personality changes. These changes last for days, weeks, months, or years.
People expect mushrooms to create a pleasurable high. Guess what? Studies do show that they can change how people view the world for the better.
It’s easy to envision someone skipping down the path to lights fantastic — while they are actually seeing lights fantastic, by the way — ready to shed light and love on the world forever.
The majority of those studied reported that any personality changes were for the better.
But, what about the flip side of that LP?
Truth be told, it gets a little heavy.
Psilocybin can also trigger psychotic episodes. The risk intensifies if the user has a family history of mental health disorders. Also, users of the drug can experience disturbing hallucinations, anxiety, and panic. If these personality changes remain, they can cause issues with your ability to function in real time. Seriously. Both, anxiety and bouts of panic grow worse if left unchecked.
Over and above the risk of a bad trip, we should take a look at the hallucinating side of things. People under the influence of psilocybin are likely to experience surreal surroundings. They may think they are somewhere they aren’t or see something that isn’t what it appears to be. Users often plan for this and prepare the surroundings where they will spend their time. Usually, it’s in an enclosed space, at home or with friends for example. If in public, though, the risk of harm greatly increases.
Is it opening the gates?
Opponents of the decision argue that decriminalization leads to more drug use. Due to the ground-breaking and fairly recent legalization of recreational marijuana use, opponents also worry that Denver is gaining the reputation of a city that is “drug-friendly.” That is not a tag they are happy with by any means.
Denver is not alone. The states of Oregon and California are jumping into the mix. They are both considering making changes to their psilocybin laws soon. The 2020 Psilocybin Service Initiative of Oregon will seek to make psychedelic mushrooms legal among licensed therapists. It is believed that psilocybin is useful in treating anxiety and depression. California activists hope to ready a 2020 ballot initiative that will decriminalize mushrooms for medical and religious purposes. The intent of the California initiative is to remove penalties for cultivating, manufacturing, extracting, distributing and consuming psilocybin.
That could be a pretty tall order to fill.
Psychedelic mushrooms may have a place in the medical community. Finding a treatment that eases anxiety and removes feelings of depression is worthy of continued study. Carry on!
But, nonetheless, we need to keep our fingers on the pulse of this story.
Is it more harm than good?
There is a wind of change sweeping our nation regarding drug legalization.
Live and let live is great in theory. However, when you consider the number of deaths due to drug overdose and all the families destroyed by a person caught in the throes of addiction, the statistics are staggering. These facts tell the truest tale.
The majority of adults are able to say when enough is enough, but there are others that cannot. They find themselves sinking deeper and deeper into the darkness that is an addiction. A portion of that population is able to carry on with life and their problem goes undetected by the majority of people in their lives. Others become consumed. They lose their homes and, often, their families because of their inability to focus on anything but where they will get their next fix.
Whether they belong to the 50% of addicts genetically predisposed or the 50% that use drugs and alcohol to cope with life, a large portion of our population is plagued by drug abuse. We need to reach out to those living in high-risk areas. The sad fact is, though, drugs are not just mainstreamed in the cities.
In today’s world, drugs are everywhere.
We need to continue educating people about the dangers of drug use. Education allows people to make informed choices.
Lastly, as a society, we need to examine why a drug is up for legalization before we cast a ballot, whether it’s psychedelic mushrooms or something else.
Medical discoveries are a noble cause and research will continue. However, legalizing a potentially harmful substance to ease a city budget is crossing the line.