A city panel reported no issues regarding Denver’s decriminalization of Psilocybin mushrooms in 2019, suggesting the city go further toward embracing the psychedelic drug.
The Psilocybin Mushroom Policy Review Panel presented its findings Tuesday to the Denver City Council, as required by Initiative 301 that voters passed in May 2019 to decriminalize mushrooms.
“Decriminalizing Psilocybin mushrooms in the City and County of Denver has not since created any significant public health or safety issue in the city,” said Kevin Matthews, president of the panel.
Matthews said arrests involving mushrooms in Denver are down 50% compared to before decriminalization and, of arrests involving mushrooms, 89% include other illicit substances. Mushrooms also account for less than 1% of drug felonies and misdemeanors in Denver.
Denver hospitals have no data for emergencies related to mushrooms, Matthews said. That includes no reports of fatal overdoses from mushrooms and no recorded accounts of someone under the influence of mushrooms injuring or killing someone else.
The panel recommended the city begin training all first responders on how to handle situations involving people in mushroom-induced crisis.
“While the vast majority of Psilocybin users experience little to no adverse effects of a routine dosage, a small percentage respond adversely,” said Sarah Gale, a licensed counselor on the panel. “Lack of appropriate response to Psilocybin-induced crisis may result in personal, career and financial consequences for cities and their staff.”
Gale said crisis intervention responses for people under the influence of psychedelic drugs should be different from the response for other substances like alcohol or opioids.
The panel also recommended the city produce public service announcements and programs to educate Denverites on mushroom use and access to harm reduction services.
In addition, the panel asked the city to make the giving, sharing and communal use of mushrooms a low priority for law enforcement, to expand voting members of the panel, to determine how mushrooms can be applied to address mental health issues and to develop a data collection system for emergencies involving mushrooms.
The City Council took no formal action on the recommendations Tuesday, though it did discuss them.
“We kind of circled around the recreational use (of mushrooms),” said Councilwoman Robin Kniech. “Talk to me about that harm reduction strategy. … We have to continue to talk about all forms of use, not just the spiritual and clinical use.”
Matthews said the panel’s recommended public service announcements would address the dangers of recreational mushroom use by informing residents on how to safely and responsibly use mushrooms.
Council members also requested a representative from the Denver Department of Public Health be added to the panel going forward.
The panel will work with the City Council to finalize a potential pilot program for the first responder training over the coming months and pursue its other recommendations after, Matthews said.
“I’m really excited about how Denver was the leader in our nation (for the decriminalization of mushrooms),” said Councilman Chris Hinds. “I am very interested in continuing to move forward if it makes sense, and based on all the report recommendations, it does seem to make sense to me.”