Reason Podcast

The Inside Story of How Denver Decriminalized Magic Mushrooms

Decriminalize Denver campaign director Kevin Matthews speaks about his winning strategy and the new frontier of drug policy.


Denver voters shocked the world this month by narrowly passing a ballot initiative decriminalizing psilocybin mushrooms by a single percentage point.

Kevin Matthews, an Army veteran who says the psychedelic effects of psilocybin mushrooms helped cure his depression, ran the campaign Decriminalize Denver, which was responsible for crafting the initiative and getting it on the ballot.

Matthews spoke with Reason's Zach Weissmueller, who provided video coverage of the historic vote, about his reaction to the surprising come-from-behind win, why the campaign chose decriminalization over all-out legalization, what the likely effects of the change in Denver's law will be, and what he believes other drug decriminalization advocates might learn from his campaign strategy.

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Audio production by Ian Keyser.

Photo credit: Frank Roeder/Newscom.



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  1. I’m glad Denver decriminalized mushrooms.
    Now all the have to do is decriminalize green peppers, onions and tomatoes, and all will be well.

    1. Don’t forget pineapples.

  2. So, I suppose this is our open thread…
    And I just heard Trump getting goaded (“Who are you accusing of Treason?”) into naming names – and he calls them all out as possible traitors to the crown nation. Comey, McCabe, Strzok and Page…

    Which leaves so many topics to discus. But I’m interested in an important sidebar. Now that the topic has been put squarely on the table by the President himself, do you suppose we’ll see a myriad of think pieces about the possibility that there really was an attempt by supporters of HRC to subvert the election and use the apparatus of government to thwart the evil Trump?

    How many pieces did we see about Trump’s delusion that Trump tower had been wiretapped back as this whole thing started? Was there any outlet who declined to get in on that one?

    And how many reports, investigative pieces, leak writeups and think pieces have we seen analyzing the possibility, probability, nay, reality that Trump was in the pocket of Russia, or compromised, or working with Putin? Is there any major publication that hasn’t run more than 100 such pieces?

    But what we haven’t seen is a serious attempt to look at the motives and actions of the people who set this thing off. Not in the NYT. Not on ABC news. Not on CNN. No, for that you have to go to either some right-wing American website where you might be rubbing elbows with a bunch of conspiracy theorists. Or over to England, where they seem to have a press that does a better job of balancing coverage of US politics than our mainstream press does.

    You’d think that at some point they would at least pick up on what the nutcases of the alt-right are chatting about and attempt to debunk it. But we haven’t even seen any serious attempts at that – and those that we have seen have been proven laughably wrong (like all those pieces about how paranoid and megalomaniacal Trump is to think that the FBI would be wiretapping his campaign)

    So, what do you guys think? Is anyone going to show up with any sort of journalistic integrity and actually look in to this story? Or are they all going to dutifully take their talking points and spin from their neuvo-journolist and rewrite each defeat as a victory for Oceania?

    1. The mainstream press is so deep into their TDS they have completely lost any attempt, even, at objectivity. Too bad, there’s a Pulitzer prize waiting.

      Oh, wait, they got one for their fake news, so who cares!

    2. This.

      I can’t believe we’re getting in a tizzy over obstruction of justice, after the Bill Clinton Affair.

      Bill Clinton was investigated for sexual harassment (which most likely was not a made up conspiracy theory), was impeached for perjury and obstruction of justice, and everyone in the media felt sorry for him.


      Perjury is a felony. He was disbarred.

      With Trump, “obstruction of justice” is just the stand in for whatever excuse you need to keep the 3 years hate going. By god, the point of the Mueller investigation was to find something to make our heads explode, and we’re not coming away without it! No matter how small we’ve shrunk from “treason” and “collusion with foreign power”. They only constant is the outrage.

      You’d have to have full on TDS not to see how far the goal posts have shifted.

  3. “So, what do you guys think? Is anyone going to show up with any sort of journalistic integrity and actually look in to this story? Or are they all going to dutifully take their talking points and spin from their neuvo-journolist and rewrite each defeat as a victory for Oceania?”

    You’d think an outfit that calls itself Reason might do that but I’m not hopeful. But we did get through an entire day with a 3 day weekend on the horizon without an Amash story. For that I am grateful.

  4. I ran in hear to post the following
    “it is amazing how much time and e-Ink Reason devotes to this story, while completely ignoring the FBI collaborating with foreign cutouts to illegally spy on a Presidential campaign and Transition.”

    Glad I’m not the only one to notice

    1. It is pretty astonishing….
      Even 10 years ago the mere suggestion that the federal government was spying on a presidential campaign would have been the biggest scandal in history. But because of the transformation that has taken place in the media over the last decade, it isn’t even a footnote. It is not only perfectly acceptable, it is the expected thing – and indeed the only truly right and just thing they could have done.
      I defy anyone covering politics today to go back to 2006 and get their former selves and tell them that they are now fully in support of the FBI, CIA, NSA (and 24 other agencies, per every single news outlet during 2017-2018) spying on an opposition presidential campaign, using wiretaps, foreign agents, fem-fatale agents, planted news stories, etc.
      They’d risk being murdered by their younger selves, if there were any chance that they actually believed it. There would be no “but you don’t understand…” justification that would get them to accept it as anything other than an astonishing abuse of power.

      1. They’ve devolved!

      2. Imagine if ReichMarshall Bush had used law enforcement and intelligence agencies to merely look into Obama’s past and connections…..

      1. Here’s something else from Julian.

        Russia Wanted Trump to Win. And It Wanted to Get Caught.

  5. Reason sure likes the wrong magic mushroom stock photo. You’re not finding those in Denver and its environs and they’re not what anyone would choose to cultivate either.

    1. Here’s your cultivars but they won’t be found wild in that elevation and climate. I’m not sure if any are.

  6. Reason during an interview with Hamilton Morris, the 32-year-old host of Hamilton’s Pharmacopeia I was surprised or perhaps not to hear nothing mentioned of our drug laws and their basis in racism. Drugs do damage if you are caught them but not as much damage as alcohol does but alcohol is a money maker for government. Lower DUI limits increase revenues. Period, the bottom line. Decriminalize this or that, toss a bone to one side in order to start the other side fighting. Meanwhile everyone is distracted with nonsense gender benders and mental health the infrastructure of America is crumbling and no money is being spent on it in amounts that will matter. How are the streets and roads where you live and what does your city spend money on? Who is first on your city budget? police right? Police have done nothing to stop crime but they can spend more and more and take Rights which they call “tools”.
    Reason is a failure from what I see, afraid to step on toes and the leader in his black leather sport coat wants to join the in-crowd whatever that is…a polite bad ass?? Who gives a fuck about shrooms or weed?

  7. The cheaper the high the better.

  8. Many people love iPhone and a few don’t. This new generation brand warfare or software debate is really much like the near soda fight of decades which is, Coca-Cola vs. Pepsi. The fight is between the hardcore faithful consumers of all their new, that are constantly enraged in order to make the other feel valuable facing the other.

    But, then there are some neutral consumers which may be flexible towards both. We address such neutral customers to try out iMessage in their Windows computers. It is easy, it’s efficient and it’s definitely high-tech. The article shows how to get iMessage on PC.

  9. just before I looked at the paycheck four $6755, I accept that my friend could realey making money in there spare time online.. there friend brother haz done this less than 22 months and resently cleard the morgage on their appartment and purchased a great new Acura. I went here,

  10. Was it magic?

  11. Denver voters shocked the world this month by narrowly passing a ballot initiative decriminalizing psilocybin mushrooms by a single percentage point.

    Where my hangin’ chads at?

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