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Detroit votes to decriminalize psychedelic mushrooms

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Detroit voters decriminalized therapeutic mushrooms – also known as psychedelic or "magic" mushrooms. On Election Day Tuesday, voters were asked to vote on Proposal E, which would make "the personal possession and therapeutic use of entheogenic plants by adults the city's lowest law-enforcement priority."

The measure passed with 61.08% of the vote. 

Detroit is not the only city to decriminalize the substance, called psilocybin, which can be used to treat a variety of psychological issues, including depression, although scientists are still doing research.

Last year, voters in another Michigan city, Ann Arbor, also voted to decriminalize psychedelic plants, as did voters in Washington, D.C. and voters in Denver in 2019.

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Denver's historic vote in 2019 came after the Denver Psilocybin Mushroom Decriminalization Initiative gathered and submitted enough signatures for the question to be added to the municipal election ballot. CBS Denver

In those states, psychedelic mushrooms are not legal, but law enforcement will not arrest those in possession of the drug. Last year, Oregon became the first state to actually legalize the therapeutic use of psilocybin, according to the Associated Press.

The substance also has a chance to be decriminalized statewide in Michigan. Senate Bill 0631, introduced by two democratic senators, also aims to make "conduct associated with entheogenic plants and fungi; exempt from criminal penalties in certain circumstances."

Decriminalize Nature Michigan, a group advocating for decriminalizing mushrooms and other substances, says plants "can catalyze profound experiences which prove to be of lasting benefit," and that "except for a few specific contraindications psychedelic plant drugs are extraordinarily safe and non-addictive."

However, others question the use of the drug. Jeff Hunt, vice president of public policy at Colorado Christian University and director of the Centennial Institute, called the use of "magic mushrooms" a "serious problem," and said "Denver is quickly becoming the illicit drug capital of the world," CBS Denver reported ahead of the 2019 vote. Colorado also became one of the first states to legalize recreational marijuana in 2012.

But this year, a panel that assessed the use of mushrooms in the city "unanimously agreed that decriminalizing psilocybin mushrooms in Denver has not since presented any significant public health or safety risk in the city," according to their report, the Denver Post reports.

The substances are illegal in the U.S., and if the federal government were to ever approve the treatment, it would be administered in clinics by specially trained staff, experts say.

Nobody should try mushrooms on their own, which would be risky, said the leaders of two psychedelic mushroom studies, Dr. Stephen Ross of New York University and Roland Griffiths of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

One of the possible treatment uses of psychedelic drugs that researchers have looked at is easing distress in cancer patients.

"It's highly common to have anxiety and depression at any stage of cancer," Ross told CBS News medical correspondent Dr. Jon LaPook in 2016. "The idea was that drugs like, initially, LSD and psyilocybin, which were known to induce spiritual or these unusual mystical states of consciousness, might help people who were having this … distress."

Denver votes to allow "magic mushrooms" 00:33
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