For years, Donovan Smith internalized shame as a queer person who felt uncelebrated and unaccepted at home.
What followed was a young adulthood clouded by depression, anxiety, self-harm, substance abuse, and ultimately a methamphetamine addiction.
“Since then, it’s taken years of painful lessons, therapy and the best support system a human could ask for to heal,” Smith told Boulder City Council in an open comment on June 7. “But an integral part of that healing was microdosing the psilocybin mushrooms. They helped me recover from addiction and avoid something that wants to kill me.
Smith is among dozens who have spoken at city council meetings throughout 2022, urging council to introduce an ordinance decriminalizing psilocybin and a few other psychedelic plants, making law enforcement the priority. lowest for law enforcement.
In doing so, Boulder would join a number of other cities across the country, including Denver, which in 2019 became the first city to decriminalize mushrooms in a voter-approved measure.
Since decriminalization was approved by Denver voters, there have been no significant public health or safety risks to the city, according to the Denver Psilocybin Mushroom Policy Review Panel, made up of city officials, measurement supporters, law enforcement, harm reduction professionals. and lawyers.
Additionally, the panel notes that there has not been a major increase in arrests related to the distribution of psilocybin mushrooms and that there have been no major cartel or organized crime elements.
“According to limited and preliminary university-level observational research for Colorado, most individuals set positive intention prior to use and reported using psilocybin mushrooms for self-exploration and mental health,” the report says. panel report.
Although decriminalization happened through a vote in Denver, activists in Boulder are pushing for a city council resolution instead.
However, so far there is no indication that any member of the city council intends to introduce such a measure. Mayor Aaron Brockett confirmed he hasn’t heard any of his colleagues suggest adding this to the city’s work plan.
The organizers, however, remain hopeful. Collecting signatures for a ballot measure remains a possibility in the future, but is currently considered a last resort.
“If key members of the city council choose to be gatekeepers and remain stubborn in bringing resolution to the ground, we will continue to organize the community to speak out in open commentary and flood the council with testimonials and feedback. activism until they get the message that it’s a cause the community is activated for,” Decriminalize Nature Boulder County member Ramzy Abueita wrote in an email.
Proponents have referenced the city’s heritage as a vanguard of progressive culture and countercultural movements.
“It’s really time for (Boulder) to come to (his) senses,” said Del Jolly, co-founder and director of Unlimited Sciences. “So many other cities have done it. Many people in Boulder pride themselves on being progressive.
“It’s definitely in Boulder’s DNA,” Abueita agreed.
Boulder is home to Naropa University’s Center for Psychedelic Studies, which offers a training program in psychedelic-assisted therapies.
The university emphasizes ethics, including the proper training and preparation of guides and therapists, noted co-director Jamie Beachy, adding that it will be important to take this into account given that psilocybin is likely to be decriminalized in Colorado and elsewhere before receiving food and drugs. Administrative approval.
“We’re being cautious, while also wanting to support what’s happening in the community so that people are offered safe and effective opportunities with all of these different drugs,” she said.
Criminalizing the use of psychedelics is an ineffective way to manage harm in the community, Beachy noted.
“Decriminalization makes sense, although community-based strategies to address harm are also important – which are not designed around incarceration, but are more about supporting people who turn to substances in unhealthy ways,” said she declared.
As with any substance, there is a risk. According to a study published in the National Library of Medicine, psilocybin carries the risk of a “bad trip”, in which a person may experience mental confusion, agitation, extreme anxiety, fear and psychotic episodes.
However, clinical studies have also shown that psilocybin, when given in a therapeutic setting, can bring dramatic changes to people with treatment-resistant major depressive disorder.
For Beachy, this speaks to the importance of psychedelic-assisted therapy, in which people are screened beforehand and supervised by professionals.
Jolly, a Boulder County resident, partnered with Johns Hopkins in a real-world study of psilocybin mushrooms by Unlimited Sciences, the psychedelic research organization he co-founded.
If Boulder chose to decriminalize psychedelics, it would have no impact on research.
“Decriminalization efforts are unfortunately not going to change research laws,” Jolly said. “It’s just going to save taxpayers’ money from punishing people for these stupid, quote-unquote offenses.”