Where Magic Mushrooms Are Decriminalized in the U.S. As Detroit Set to Vote

Voters in Detroit, Michigan are set to have their say on whether the personal possession and therapeutic use of magic mushrooms by adults should be decriminalized to the fullest extent allowed under state law. The vote is happening Tuesday.

If the measure, known as Proposal E, is passed, such use would be placed among the city's "lowest enforcement" priorities.

Such a move would see Detroit join a handful of other jurisdictions around the United States that have taken steps to loosen restrictions on magic mushrooms—a drug that is increasingly garnering interest for its potential therapeutic benefits amid the so-called "psychedelic renaissance."

What is the legal status of magic mushrooms in the United States?

At the federal level, it is still illegal to cultivate or possess magic mushrooms because they contain the Schedule I substances psilocin and psilocybin, so it is not technically accurate to say that they have been fully decriminalized anywhere in the country, according to the Psychedelic Legalization & Decriminalization Tracker created by Calyx Law and Emerge Law Group for the Psilocybin Alpha—an online resource that provides information on the psychedelic medicine sector.

But several U.S. cities and states have taken steps towards effective decriminalization, loosening the consequences for personal or therapeutic use of the substance and deprioritizing criminal penalties.

In May 2019, Denver, Colorado became the first city in the U.S. to deprioritize law enforcement for possession of psilocybin mushrooms with the passage of Initiative 301. The initiative states that personal possession of the substance is among the city's lowest law enforcement priorities.

Penalties for drug possession have also been reduced at the state level in Colorado after a bill known as HB19-1263 went into effect in March, 2020.

Subsequently, the cities of Oakland and Santa Cruz in California both passed resolutions in 2019 and 2020 respectively that made personal use of certain psychedelics, including magic mushrooms, a lowest priority for enforcement.

Similar legislation has been passed in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and in Washtenaw County, of which it is the seat, as well as the cities of Somerville, Cambridge, and Northampton in Massachusetts.

In November 2020, residents of the District of Columbia approved an initiative which made the "the investigation and arrest of persons 18 years of age or older, for non-commercial planting, cultivating, purchasing, transporting, distributing, engaging in practices with, and/or possessing" psychoactive plants and fungi among the local police department's "lowest enforcement priorities."

And also in November 2020, Oregon became the first state in the U.S. to legalize psilocybin-assisted therapy.

In addition, a measure that went into effect in February 2021 essentially decriminalized personal possession of small amounts of drugs in Oregon by reclassifying such an act as a civil violation with a $100 fine, which can be avoided if the individual in question agrees to seek treatment.

psilocybin mushrooms.
Stock image showing hallucinogenic psilocybin mushrooms. What is the legal status of magic mushrooms in the United States? iStock