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Denver votes to decriminalize psychedelic mushrooms

By
Clyde Hughes & Danielle Haynes

May 8 (UPI) -- Denver became the first city in the United States to decriminalize psychedelic mushrooms after vote counting well into Wednesday reversed what was initially believed to be a defeat of the measure.

As of Wednesday evening, there were 89,320 votes in favor of decriminalization and 87,341 votes against, a 1,979-vote margin.

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The Tuesday election also resulted in the need for a runoff race to determine the city's next mayor.

The psychedelic mushroom measure trailed early Wednesday -- with 52 percent opposed to decriminalizing mushrooms and 48 in support, results showed. Passage of the measure means that while the drug will remained illegal to buy, sell and possess, it will have the lowest priority in the city's revised municipal code.

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The psilocybin found in mushrooms is a hallucinogenic substance ingested orally that's long been popular among young people in clubs and on college campuses. The campaign that supported the measure, Decriminalize Denver, argued for the mushrooms' medical benefits.

Supporters held off on celebrating until the results are certified May 16.

"It's been one hell of a 21-and-a-half hours, Initiative 301 campaign manager Kevin Matthews told The Denver Post. "If these results hold, this is an example of the absurd comedy of the great metaphor. Against all odds, we prevailed. This is what happens when a small team of dedicated and passionate people unite under a single idea to create change."

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In the mayoral election, incumbent Mayor Michael B. Hancock (38.65 percent) and former RiNo Arts District President Jamie Giellis (24.88 percent) will advance to a runoff after neither reached the 50 percent threshold. The runoff is set for June 4.

"We didn't lose anything tonight," Hancock, who's seeking a third term, said. "We get another chance to prove to voters in Denver that we're moving in the right direction."

Giellis, in her first run at public office, called Tuesday's results a success.

"The people of Denver have spoken," she told The Denver Post. "They have sent a clear message that they are done with the direction this city is headed under the current mayor, Michael Hancock. And let me just say, I am ready for the fight, ready for the fight."

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