Will Psilocybin Decriminalization Expand in 2020? Psilocybin Initiatives in Denver, Oakland, Chicago, California, and Oregon

The year 2019 was a watershed year for efforts to reform the laws around psilocybin mushrooms, commonly referred to as “magic mushrooms.” Since psilocybin’s categorization in the 1970s as a Schedule I drug under US and international law, reform of laws related to psilocybin and other psychedelics had not been a significant focus of the drug policy reform community. However, in the spring of 2019, Denver became the first U.S. city to effectively decriminalize possession and cultivation of personal possession amounts of psilocybin. Oakland quickly followed Denver’s lead and went further by effectively decriminalizing all activities related to naturally occurring or entheogenic psychedelic substances. Also, in 2019, reform advocates in Oregon and California submitted proposed statewide ballot initiatives to allow voters to liberalize psilocybin laws through the 2020 ballot process.

This article summarizes the various reforms enacted in Denver and Oakland, along with summarizing the proposed new regulated models in Oregon and California. Controversial or groundbreaking provisions of each of these laws are briefly discussed.