In Colorado, legislation regarding the legalization and decriminalization of some drugs is picking up momentum. These days, it’s not just marijuana that is getting attention, but also psilocybin. This is the substance in psychedelic mushrooms that has a psychoactive effect on the user.
In 2019, Denver voters made it clear they want to decriminalize psilocybin for adults over the age of 21 in the city.
The local government recognized this referendum vote not by making it legal to buy, sell, or possess, but by instructing police not to prioritize the arrests of those in simple possession of the substance.
Psilocybin: What Is It?
Psilocybin is a naturally occurring substance found in certain types of mushrooms. The substance is considered psychoactive because the compounds in it are hallucinogenic.
These mushrooms are often called magic mushrooms and some people take them for recreational purposes while others take them for spiritual ones. When people eat these mushrooms they report hallucinations, elation, and a modified sense of time.
Psilocybin Is a Schedule I Drug
In Colorado, psilocybin mushrooms are considered a Schedule I drug, which include drugs such as PCP, LSD, and peyote. Schedule I drugs are those considered to have no accepted medical use and have a high potential for abuse. It is still illegal to possess, distribute, manufacture, or sell psychedelic mushrooms in Colorado, but the penalties have changed in recent years.
Advocates Argue for Medicinal Uses
Advocates of decriminalizing mushrooms contend that they do have medical uses such as treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. They also believe that people are serving jail sentences that are disproportionate for the use and possession of this drug.
Despite public support, advocacy debates, and a look the other way, it’s important to remember that in the end, psilocybin is still considered an illicit drug and even possession is against Colorado law. Any time you break the law, you are subject to penalties.
Penalties for Possession of Psilocybin Mushroom
In Denver, the police may look the other way if you are found with a small quantity of mushrooms, up to four grams, but it’s important to note that using this illegal substance is still considered a level 1 drug misdemeanor in Colorado.
A conviction can result in as many as 18 months in jail and fines that can reach $5,000. The court can also ask you to complete one year of probation if caught with these mushrooms as well as more time behind bars if you have previous offenses of the same nature on your record.
There are also felony penalties if you are found in possession of more than four grams of psilocybin mushrooms. The possession charge then becomes a level 4 drug felony. Conviction on this charge can result in penalties of up to one year in prison and fines of $100,000.
The Sale of Psilocybin Mushrooms
If you are found to be in possession of mushrooms with an intent to sell them, then that can open you up to felony charges. In Colorado, selling a Schedule I substance can result in a variety of penalties that depend on the amount you are found with:
- 14 grams or less – Level 3 drug felony punishable by up to four years in prison and fines of up to $500,000.
- 14 grams to 225 grams – Level 2 drug felony, punishable by up to eight years in prison and fines of up to $750,000.
- Over 225 grams – Level 1 drug felony punishable by up to 32 years in prison and fines up to $1 million. It is also a Level 1 drug felony to provide any amount of mushrooms to a person under 18 who is at least two years younger.
Driving on Mushrooms
Under Colorado law, driving under the influence of any type of drug is illegal, even prescription drugs. Basically, if you’re driving is impaired in any way by a substance, then you can be faced with DUI penalties, so driving while on mushrooms may also lead to additional charges.
Previous Criminal History
With mushrooms, a first offense is likely to be treated leniently while subsequent offenses will often lead to increased penalties. This is true with both state and federal charges. Don’t forget, there are federal drug laws you can be charged with breaking if found in possession of a Schedule I drug.
For federal charges, first-time offenders may not see the inside of a jail cell, but can still be responsible for fines up to $1,000. Any previous drug crimes on your record can result in a prison sentence of up to two years and fines of $2,500 – and it only goes up from there with each prior conviction.
Even though you may not find yourself being charged with a serious felony when in possession of mushrooms in Denver, it’s still important to secure an attorney. The reason for this is that any previous criminal history will impact the severity of the penalties you receive. This is especially true when your criminal history involves drug-related crimes.
About the Author:
Andrew Bryant is a well-respected Colorado Springs criminal attorney who has been practicing in the area for years. A Colorado native, he returned to the home he loves after graduating from the University of Kentucky College of Law. Now, he uses the knowledge he gained as an El Paso County District Attorney to fight tirelessly for his clients’ rights. He is AV-Preeminent rated, has been recognized for his work by The National Trial Lawyers, and has been named to Best of the Springs lists by The Gazette for years.