“Final Unofficial Results” recently released by the City of Denver show 50.56% of votes counted were cast in favor of Initiated Ordinance 301 (I-301), the ballot initiative that would de-prioritize the enforcement of psilocybin mushroom possession and consumption offenses in the Colorado city. Numerous outlets (including our own) reported last night that the initiative had failed, with the “No” side leading by about 10% with the majority of votes counted and all precincts reporting. Now, it appears that the vote has passed, at least for the time being.
The official Denver Election Results page on The City and County of Denver website has now been updated to show a slim 1,979 margin of victory for proponents of I-301. The current “Final Unofficial Results” now show that 89,320 votes (50.56%) were cast for Initiated Ordinance 301 and 87,341 votes (49.44%) were cast against. Tallies earlier last night showed 42,703 votes (45%) were cast for I-301 and 51,285 votes (55%) against. Additionally, results now show a whopping 8,410 “under votes”, meaning voters did not select either option, far larger than the 1,979 vote difference between “Yes” and “No”.
Advocacy group “Decriminalize Denver” and their leader Kevin Matthews had already conceded defeat after last night’s results. Matthews was quoted by USA Today as saying, “Tonight. it was win or learn. At the very least, we’ve demonstrated that we can get psilocybin legislation on the ballot. My mindset is that it’s not a loss, it’s a lesson.” Little did Matthews know, a win could very much still be in the cards. Though, at this point, it would be unsurprising to see a recount.
“What an amazing 22 hours,” Kevin Matthews told the Washington Post today in their updated story about the passing of the measure. “We’re really looking forward to creating a positive relationship with city officials in Denver and working with and educating Denver residents, and being part of the continuing conversation.”
If the vote is finalized, Denver will become the first city in the United States to effectively “decriminalize” psilocybin (“magic”) mushrooms. Advocates of progressive drug policy hope that this could ignite a wave of reduced penalties and even legalization of psilocybin mushrooms and other psychedelics, following in the footsteps of cannabis. The state of Colorado passed laws to legalize medicinal use of cannabis in 2000 and recreational use in 2012. Many states have followed suit, and cannabis was legalized federally in Canada last year. Cannabis remains federally illegal in the United States.
It is still unclear how the results of this vote will be practically implemented in the City of Denver. I-301 does not directly address the treatment of psilocybin mushroom extracts, products containing psilocybin mushrooms, psilocybin as a compound itself, or the multitude of other psilocybin derivatives and other currently illegal-to-posses compounds contained within the mushrooms. It is unclear how enforcement of laws pertaining to these substances will change.