Denverite who talked to media outlets about growing shrooms, quickly tracked down and busted by DEA
Weed is legal in many states but illegal federally. It's like when mom says you can have ice cream but dad says you can't.
The DEA — dad — has been raiding weed businesses for at least two decades. They do it less often, nowadays, now that there are too many legal states and not enough DEA agents to go around.
Now more drugs are being tolerated at the local level. Oakland told its cops to ignore natural psychedelics like ayahuasca, mushrooms and peyote. Chicago is close to doing the same. Minneapolis, Berkeley, and a handful of other cities are embracing — as their slogan says — Decriminalizing Nature.
Dad — the feds — cannot be happy about this. All these drugs are Schedule 1, just like weed.
In May, Denver voters made growing, possessing and using mushrooms the city's "lowest law-enforcement priority," down below spilling on the sidewalk and owning a crocodile without a permit. It was a historic vote, the first time any place in the world voted to liberate a psychedelic drug.
In Denver, dad just put his foot down.
Denverite Kole Milner was blatant and open about his mushroom operation, acting as though mushrooms are as legal as tomatoes, selling to pretty much anyone who asked. A thousand dollars, or two, a month.
To add blatantness to blatantness, Milner packaged his mushrooms with a logo he created, Happy Fox, of a drooling fox with dilated pupils in a field of shrooms.
And he told friends, he told acquaintances. And he told the media.
Normally, the media is good at keeping sources safe. Bob Woodward protected Deep Throat for three decades. I've written about dozens, maybe hundreds of drug users and dealers, and as far as I know no harm has come to any of them due to my stories.
But it didn't work out for Milner.
Vice News, NPR, Westword, and the Denver Post asked the campaign behind the law — Decriminalize Denver — to hook them up with a grower to interview. The campaign sent them to Milner. Milner became a semi-hidden star, with stories and videos titled like "Psilocybin Dealer on Life After Decriminalization." Milner's face was kept out of the photos and videos, and he used his middle name — Douglas.
But in Milner's case, the media and Milner both got sloppy, and Milner got caught.
Examples: Milner bragged the mushrooms made him rich. Milner wore a t-shirt with his Happy Fox mushrooms logo. He also told many people he was the grower in the stories.
The DEA got on the case. They combed the Internet, picking up the bread crumbs the subject of the stories left online. And there were a lot.
As just one example, Milner kept his Venmo feed "public," so the DEA saw payments from people for "magic" and mushroom emojis.
"I believe the cartoon mushrooms to be a reference to psilocybin," the DEA agent wrote in his affidavit.
A judge apparently agreed, and authorized the search warrant. The DEA was waiting for Kole Milner when he opened his door to go to work Sept. 11.
From his apartment, DEA agents took 906 live psychedelic mushrooms, 20 ounces of dried mushrooms, a phone, a computer, three T-shirts with a logo for Happy Fox Edibles, wrote Westword.
Milner hasn't been formally arrested or charged. The affidavit indicates they're investigating who Milner was selling to. Milner did not respond to a text asking for a comment.
Milner's bust is the first major mushroom bust since the May vote, and it chilled the small but rapidly growing Denver psychedelic scene. Friends of Milner cleaned out their mushroom grows, and reminded each other not to sell, and tidied up their social media feeds.
As more cities decriminalize more drugs, particularly psychedelics, will the feds keep reminding residents of cities like Denver that they're powerful? They're still the boss? How long is daddy going to keep putting his foot down?