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Colorado Votes Yes on Psychedelics

The votes are in, and Colorado citizens want access to psychedelics. On November 8, 2022, Colorado became the second US state to vote on a measure that…



The votes are in, and Colorado citizens want access to psychedelics. On November 8, 2022, Colorado became the second US state to vote on a measure that legalizes psilocybin access in a therapeutic setting and decriminalizes personal use. 

Proposition 122, or the Natural Medicine Health Act, has passed with 52% of voters supporting the measure. These are the numbers as of November 11 with 93% of all votes counted. This historical moment could mean that psychedelic reform will continue to spread across the states. It means that more people will have access to legal psychedelic treatment in a regulated environment than ever before. 

This comes as part of a trend of cities and states taking psychedelic regulation into their own hands. Nearly a dozen cities have decriminalized a handful of psychedelics. Multiple states have openly discussed the benefits of psychedelics. But, only Oregon and Colorado have taken the jump and fully legalized psilocybin trips in a clinical setting. 

What Does This Mean for Colorado?

The Natural Medicine Health Act does a couple of things for Colorado’s access to psychedelics. With the passing of this measure, several psychedelic plants are now decriminalized throughout all of Colorado. Possession of mushrooms, DMT, mescaline, and Ibogaine for personal use has been decriminalized. This does not mean that these compounds are fully legal, just that arresting and prosecuting people who are caught with them is the lowest priority for Colorado’s law enforcement. 

The measure also sets up an exciting outline for health centers where people over the age of 21 will have access to psilocybin and psilocin (two active compounds found in magic mushrooms). Those seeking psychedelic treatment for mental health issues, spiritual growth, and personal development will be able to experience a guided trip with a professional practitioner. 

It is not yet clear what the requirements will be to become a psychedelic practitioner or what the structure of health centers will look like. Now that the proposition has passed, a committee will be assembled to set forth all of the rules and regulations that will govern this new industry. They will be tasked with determining what form of psilocybin will be used (mushrooms or synthetic), who can manufacture, transport, and deliver to consumers, and what rules they have to follow while doing it. 

The committee has until September 9, 2024, to produce a finalized set of rules, giving them just under two years to build the program. The results of the psychedelic experiment in Oregon will likely influence the rules outlined in Colorado. They are building their system during the first two years of Oregon testing theirs. This provides a rough blueprint to build off of, rather than the complete creation of a new system that Oregon has been faced with since they passes measure 109 in 2020.

Once the rules and regulations are solidified in 2024, it will take some time for businesses to be ready to start offering treatment. Those seeking treatment in the proposed health centers can expect access in mid-late 2025. It will likely be a few more years before centers are abundant across the state. 

For Colorado citizens looking for immediate access, they do have the option to cultivate for personal use under the decriminalization of psychedelic compounds. This allows individuals who are finding benefit in using these natural psychedelics to obtain and use them without fear of legal repercussions. Selling is not included under decriminalization and is still illegal. 

What is Next for Psychedelic Reform?

All eyes are on Colorado and Oregon. These two states have bravely stepped up as the pioneers of legal psychedelic treatment. Other states, including California, have had whispers of psychedelic law reform, but ultimately were not ready to take that step into the unknown- and it is a land of the unknown. Many lawmakers have said they want to wait for more studies and data before moving to legalize psychedelics.

Very few politicians want to be at the helm of a state that is experimenting with something as taboo as psychedelics. However, people have spoken and the experiment will move forward. What happens in Oregon and Colorado over the next two to four years will either inspire or discourage other states and even the federal government, from following suit. 

Oregon and Colorado are taking this role very seriously. They are taking every precaution to ensure the continued protection of their citizens while offering them a new kind of treatment that has the potential to help millions of people suffering from debilitating mental health issues.

There has never been access to psychedelics in this way. Colorado and Oregon are creating their psychedelic program with no blueprint to follow. There is no proven example of what works best and what does not. Oregon has spent the last two years since Measure 109 was approved, designing the container that will hold and support psychedelic treatment in the state. In less than two months from now, Oregon will begin taking applications from people who want to open psilocybin clinics. The early successes and failures of the program will influence how Colorado sets up their own. 

As the second state to legalize psilocybin treatment, Colorado gets the benefit of watching how Oregon’s program progresses during the first two years. Colorado will build their program on the successes and failures of Oregon, and future legislation will be able to do the same.

Other states who are considering legislation to legalize psychedelic use will also be keeping an eye on how the federal government reacts to these programs in the coming years. Federal law supersedes state law. So, federal agencies are within their jurisdiction to come in and shut down operations and arrest those involved. At this point, there is no information to suggest that they will do so. 

In the early stages of states legalizing cannabis, against federal law, there were instances of raids on dispensaries. That is a possibility with these psilocybin health centers. The federal government could also take other actions to discourage more states from following suit.

With every step forward in the psychedelic industry, new questions and concerns arise. will continue to monitor Colorado and all aspects of the psychedelic industry. Stay tuned for developments in the legal psychedelic market.

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