Denver Psilocybin Initiative was a ballot initiative that (successfully) aimed to decriminalize the use and possession of psilocybin mushrooms, making it the lowest law-enforcement priority and prohibiting the city from spending resources to impose criminal penalties.










On May 8th, 2019, Denver made history as the first U.S. city to ever decriminalize magic mushrooms, set a new precedent for other cities to follow, and marked a major milestone of the second psychedelic renaissance.


Psilocybin is a powerful compound found in certain mushrooms. Humans have used these mushrooms for thousands of years for healing, rites of passage, spiritual insight, strengthening community, and raising consciousness. Traditional cultures came to understand that these mushrooms were to be respected, used intentionally, and with community support. In this way, many people still responsibly use psilocybin to improve their mental health, gain insights, and for their general well-being.

Yet, in 1970 the federal government categorized psilocybin as a Schedule I substance (the same classification as heroin), the classification reserved for drugs with high abuse potential and no “accepted” medical value. This brought to a halt the promising university research on psilocybin being conducted at the time. Since 1971, people possessing any amount of this naturally-occurring mushroom could be charged with a felony and thrown in prison.

Now, there is hope for a more sensible approach to psilocybin regulation, as breakthrough research is showing this substance may help address the mental health crisis in our country and enrich the lives of many adults who choose to use it.

the challenge

Shifting the public opinion of a population of ~700,000 around a topic in which society is woefully uninformed (while operating on a shoestring budget) presented a seemingly impossible challenge of mass education.

The success of this people-powered, grassroots movement were of the highest stakes to our digital team, to the “boots on the ground”, and to everyone who poured their hearts and souls into the campaign. We felt as if the mental health of our nation was on the line. As if the integration of plant medicine into our mainstream culture was hanging in the balance. Winning meant everything to us, and we fought for every vote.

Our victory marked a historic moment within the second psychedelic renaissance, but this mission is much, much bigger than us, and it grows larger by the day. Even if we’d have lost on May 8th, other players in the movement would have carried us forward.

our approach

Our approach centered around creating a “perpetual motion machine” that educated Denver voters with evidence gleaned from preliminary scientific research and personal testimonials from individuals who have used psilocybin to heal from trauma and addiction.  In order for an awareness campaign (or any advertising campaign, for that matter) to be sustainable, it must remain at or at least near breakeven at scale.

This was an audacious goal, as the industry benchmark for direct-donation campaigns is a 0.5 Return on Ad Spend (ROAS). That means if you put a dollar into advertising, you’ll only get 50 cents back – effectively losing half your money. That may be surprising to you, but cause-based donation campaigns are rarely a money-making endeavor. The goal is to recoup as much of the output as possible in order to reach as many people as possible, educate the public, and secure larger donors.


When considering the marketing mix for any campaign, it’s important to categorize channels based on their risk profile.

For example, Facebook advertising is inherently risky because you pay based on impressions (e.g. you pay every time an ad is served), not on clicks or CPM or donations. Also, as stated above, it’s unlikely to generate a positive return for this type of campaign, which means we’d be unable to push the spend much.

On the other hand, ignoring Facebook would be silly because it’s the largest platform in the world. That’s why we layered in lower-risk channels to expand our reach beyond just paid media.

Enter organic social media, key influencers, and PR…

Through our proprietary network of psychedelic influencers and partners, we were able to gain exposure on social media profiles stretching across a combined reach of over 26M followers. 

Even better, the heart of the initiative took on a mind of its own, recruiting influential partners out of thin air.

The initiative was actively covered on every major media network in the country, and countless others throughout the globe.

The global awareness was exciting and encouraging, but only one demographic mattered in the end: Denver voters.

Since winning the vote, Magic has dedicated its company mission to decriminalizing all plant medicine nationwide. Out of Denver Psilocybin Initiative emerged the Society for Psychedelic Outreach, Reform, and Education (SPORE), which aims to inoculate the psychedelic renaissance by advocating for the decriminalization of psilocbybin and other entheogens nationwide.

The movement is well underway.