If you thought the world was heading to pot, think again: voters in the US city of Denver have elected to decriminalise psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms.

The city voted 51 per cent approval for the measure, which followed a successful campaign to decriminalise cannabis in the city in 2005, which was followed by legalisation in the state, Colorado, in 2012.

The move is actually more in keeping with global trends, both in terms of decriminalisation and in terms of research, than many might expect.

The next big thing after cannabis?

Researchers around the world have been looking at psilocybin as a panacea for problems such as smoking and alcohol addiction, psychological disorders such as obsessive compulsive disorder, and cancer-related depression.

Methyl​enedioxy​methamphetamine, which is more commonly known as MDMA or Ecstasy, is also a budding area of research for similar applications.

ASX investors looking for an in with this kind of research will have to wait however. Morgans analyst Ian Wilkie says search screens for psilocybin and psychedelics bring up zero ASX biotechs.

A search on the Australia New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry brings up no pending trial applications or current trials for the substance.

However, St Vincents Hospital Melbourne is running a clinical trial aiming to ease the anxiety felt by palliative care patients using psychedelic synthetic magic mushrooms. It was supposed to start in April.

Stockhead is seeking comment from St Vincents.

In February, investment banker Peter Hunt and his wife Tania de Jong tipped $120,000 in to half-fund the trial.

In terms of being the next cannabis however, Medlab Clinical (ASX:MDC) boss Sean Hall is skeptical.

He believes of the illicit drugs companies could choose to turn legal for pharmaceutical uses, cocaine could be more of a goer, a drug that inspired the creation of novocaine (made more famous by the songs Novocaine by Fall Out Boy and Give Me Novacaine by Green Day), and Lidocaine — the paste dentists put on your teeth and gums as a painkiller.

Decriminalisation was coming, then Canada happened

Decriminalisation of a Class A drug is not as unexpected a you might think, however.

Elisabetta Faenza, CEO of medical cannabis company LeafCann, says there has been a global shift at the UN level towards removing illicit drugs from criminal codes and reclassifying them as a health issue.

This was being led as a slow multilateral shift by countries including Australia, New Zealand, the US and the UK.

But it has been jeopardised by Canada’s unilateral move to legalise recreational cannabis.

“Canada is in flagrant breach of the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, and more specifically the 1988 [United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances] criminal code that was applied by the UN,” she told Stockhead.

“Interestingly, [Canada’s move] set back the cause of decriminalisation around the world.”

“You have blocks of countries that are very liberal who want to move towards decriminalisation because drug policy is a big part of structural inequality around the world.”

But by being in breach of those two codes, Canada has undermined the case of multilateral decriminalisation and essentially opened the door to countries which would rather not be part of a global shift in this direction to act on their own, polarising the pro and con camps.

Portugal is so far the only country to decriminalise all illicit drugs, which it did in 2001, and began treating them as a health issue.

Instead of imprisoning users for possession, they are referred to a treatment program and can receive a fine or community service.