The US city of Denver is set to vote in a referendum that could practically approve the use of magic mushrooms.
If passed, the measure would bar officials from “spending resources to impose criminal penalties” for personal use and possession of the drug.
Magic mushrooms contain a psychedelic chemical, psilocybin, which under US federal law belongs in the same group of banned drugs as heroin or LSD.
Denver decriminalised marijuana in 2005 ahead of the rest of Colorado state.
Tuesday’s referendum is the first US public vote on magic mushrooms.
It asks voters if the personal use and possession of the drug should be the city’s “lowest law enforcement priority”.
If approved, the verdict would apply to Denver City and County residents over the age of 21.
The federal government argues that psilocybin – and all Schedule I classification drugs – have high abuse potential and no accepted medical value.
However Decriminalise Denver, the group behind the initiative, argues that certain mushrooms “may be helpful in the treatment of cluster headaches, PTSD [Post Traumatic Stress Disorder] and OCD [Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder]”.
Decriminalise Denver says: “No-one should go to jail, lose their children, lose their job, and lose their citizen’s rights for using a mushroom. One arrest is too many for something with such low and manageable risks for most people, relative to its potential benefits.”
Several major figures have opposed the measure, including Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and Denver District Attorney Beth McCann.
Ms McCann told the Washington Post: “At this point, I don’t think it’s a good idea. We’re still figuring out marijuana, and even though things are going well so far, we’re still measuring the impacts on the people of Denver.”
The UK’s NHS [National Health Service] says magic mushrooms are a hallucinogenic, “making people see, hear and experience the world in a different, ‘trippy’ way”.