In the wake of Denver’s vote last month to decriminalize psychedelic mushrooms, lawmakers and regular folks have tripped over the relevant fungal facts.
One such person is State Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg (R-Sterling), who’s wondering if the mushrooms in his feed lot are magic.
“I’m trying to figure out–I’ve got mushrooms in my feed lot in those little piles of manure,” Sonnenberg told John Waters, who hosts KFTM’s “Big Morning Show” in Fort Morgan today. “Are those magic mushrooms? Can I harvest those? Have I been missing this? How do you grow those magic mushrooms?”
Sonnenberg did not return a call seeking to know if he wants to harvest his dung-dwelling mushrooms so he can eat them and trip.
If so, the Sterling Republican should know that his shrooms probably won’t get him high. That’s because magic mushrooms aren’t known to grow wild in Colorado, and the most potent psychedelic mushroom species almost never appear in the wild here. That is, unless they’re cultivated in jars or containers indoors, likely in basements in urban areas.
Sonnenberg is correct that some magic mushroom species, in the genus Psilocybe, grow on dung, but not in our state. He should check poop in warm states like Florida, where they are common in cow pastures. And he should examine wood chips and lawns in the Pacific Northwest. Here’s a book on magic shroom identification that Sonnenberg should read.
Sonnenberg’s mushrooms were most likely species of Panaeolus, and they are almost certainly not hallucinogenic.
Some mushroom enthusiasts believe that Amanita muscaria, a common mushroom in the Colorado mountains, is psychoactive. It’s known for its distinctive red cap and white spots.
However, a reporter experimented multiple times with this mushroom, even traveling to Siberia to interview native Koryak people and shamans about it, and concluded that the mushroom, known in Russia as Mukhomor, should be considered poisonous, not psychoactive. (See Shaman’s Drum: “In Search of Mukhomor, the Mushroom of Immortality.) In his book, Soma: the Divine Mushroom of Immortality, Gordon Wasson theorized, probably falsely, that Amanita muscaria was the divine inspiration for the ancient Rig Veda texts.
The topic of mushrooms came up in the KFTM radio interview after Sonnenberg told Waters that there was a push at the Capitol to have fewer prisoners in jail.
“I’m one of those [people], by golly, [who believes] if you do the crime, you got to do the time,” Sonnenberg told Waters.
“I guess you could let them out of prison, and then they can move to Denver and do magic mushrooms and have a great time,” replied Waters.
“They can,” replied Sonnenberg. “They can do the magic mushrooms.”
In fact, psychedelic mushrooms are illegal under federal law and remain illegal in Denver. But the personal use and possession of magic mushrooms by citizens over 21 are now the city’s lowest law-enforcement priority.
Listen to Waters on KFTM here: