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Denver Voted Against Decriminalizing Magic Mushrooms. But Last Night’s Historic Vote May Kickstart a Movement.

A referendum in Denver to decriminalize psilocybin, or “magic mushrooms,” was defeated last night by a narrow margin. But the activists who worked to get the issue on the ballot say their fight was the beginning of a larger movement.

“It starts by forcing the conversation and protecting access,” says Cindy Sovine, a political consultant who worked on the initiative. “Whether you’re using this plant for a medical reason, or a spiritual reason, or a recreational reason, you should not be going to jail or losing your children for it.”

On average, 50 people were arrested in each of the last three years by Denver police for the sale or possession of psilocybin, according to The Washington Post. Eleven of those cases were prosecuted.

“One of the folks very much involved with our campaign was one of those people,” says Sovine-Miller. “[He] was arrested and thrown in jail, and still to this day has ramifications in his life for what he can and cannot do because of psilocybin.”

Watch the video for a look inside the first U.S.-based political campaign to decriminalize psilocybin and what it means for drug culture and the psychedelic legalization movement.

Produced by Zach Weissmueller. Camera by Justin Monticello and Weissmueller.

Music by Case Newsom.

“Cendres” by Kai Engel was licensed under an Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International license.

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About The Author

Zach Weissmueller

Founded in 1968, Reason is the magazine of free minds and free markets. We produce hard-hitting independent journalism on civil liberties, politics, technology, culture, policy, and commerce. Reason exists outside of the left/right echo chamber. Our goal is to deliver fresh, unbiased information and insights to our readers, viewers, and listeners every day. Visit

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