As the public perception of psychedelics begins to shift, so too are the regulations that govern them. Back in 2020, Oregon became the first state in the US to legalize the use of psychedelic mushrooms with Measure 109. Colorado may be the next state to follow in its footsteps with the legalization of Psilocybin and Psilocin (the active compounds in magic mushrooms) coming to a vote in the November election.
In 2019, Colorado’s largest city, Denver, became the first US city to decriminalize mushrooms. It is no surprise that the state is pioneering the new world of legal psychedelic plant medicines. If Proposition 122 is passed, citizens will have access to psilocybin treatment through legal “healing centers.” It would also decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms, DMT, mescaline, and ibogaine – So, so people would no longer have to worry about legal repercussions from seeking the medicinal properties of the compound.
This is the second legislation of its kind, preceded only by Oregon’s Measure 109 and 110. If it does pass, the rule-making process will begin just as Oregon is finalizing its structure for using psilocybin mushrooms for “personal development.”
Natural Medicine Health Act Of 2022
Proposition 122 will be voted on in a month and a half. If passed, it would decriminalize magic mushrooms and allow for clinics where people 21 years of age or older can obtain psychedelic-assisted therapy.
The measure calls for a committee to lay out rules and regulations on cultivation, testing, transportation, and treatment using psilocybin mushrooms. They would have until September 30, 2024, to finalize this set of rules.
If it passes, psilocybin mushrooms will be the only plant categorized under “natural medicine.” After June 2026, the committee will have the option to add DMT, Ibogaine, and mescaline to that definition. This gives the state time to focus on building the container in which psychedelics will exist before expanding the program. There is no blueprint for this type of state-wide program, other than the one that Oregon is currently putting together. So, there will be lessons learned and changes made throughout the process.
If mescaline is legalized, it will exclude the use of Peyote. Many cities and states that have been decriminalizing psychedelics have been excluding Peyote out of respect for native communities. The cactus has been used as a Native American medicine for thousands of years; its popularity in mainstream society has grown over the past few decades which has made the plant endangered.
Several native tribes have campaigned for the protection of the Peyote cactus so that they will continue to have access to it for generations to come. Many lawmakers have been respecting this request and excluding the cactus from decriminalization and legalization plans. Mescaline can still be obtained through the San Pedro and Peruvian Torch cacti, as well as synthetically manufactured.
This act would finally give people access to a viable treatment for issues like treatment-resistant depression, chronic anxiety disorder, addiction, and PTSD. Many people use psychedelic compounds underground to help with mental health issues. They fear legal repercussions for using medicines that have helped them more than anything available to them legally.
Recently, many mothers have been saying that microdosing mushrooms have helped them be better parents by reducing the overwhelm that can come with motherhood. The Natural Medicine Health Act would make it so that use of magic mushrooms no longer constitutes child abuse, allowing parents to seek the medicine without fear of losing their children.
The Act would also allow those previously arrested for personal possession of psilocybin mushrooms to have their records sealed. This would only be at a state level, as it would remain federally illegal.
Many of the concerns (regarding the federal government) that the recreational cannabis industry has faced would also apply to this new psychedelic space. Companies will face struggles finding banks that will do business with them, the compound will not be able to cross state lines, and there will still be concerns that they could face legal implications on a federal level.
The federal government has not expressed its intent to interfere with these new legal markets, so at this time Oregon and Colorado do not have cause for concern. Recently, the white house has even come out saying that psilocybin should be accessible for the treatment of depression and PTSD.
Equity and Investments
Affordable access is important to the Colorado citizens pushing this through. In the proposition, they call on lawmakers to ensure that facilitator training programs and treatment remain affordable so that everyone who could benefit from treatment can access it.
The measure states that the committee making the rules must “not impose unreasonable financial or logistical barriers that make obtaining a facilitator license commercially unreasonable for low-income people or other applicants.” Facilitator treatment programs can cost over $20,000 and psychedelic treatment often costs at least a few thousand dollars. For many people who could benefit from treatment, these costs make it inaccessible. It is not yet clear how exactly they will ensure affordable treatment, only that they will make it a priority to do so.
There are also limitations put in place as to how many “healing centers” one entity can have a financial interest in. One person or company can only own up to five centers, the same number that Oregon has put in place. Unlike Oregon, there are no outlined requirements that facilitators and majority stakeholders must be long-time residents of Colorado. If no such limitations are put in place, this would allow out-of-state companies to bring in their brands without partnering with someone local.
There is nothing outlining restrictions on a company’s ability to build vertically. So, like in Oregon, companies would be able to operate within multiple levels of the industry giving them a competitive advantage and increased revenue potential.
Will It Pass?
Only time can tell us a definitive answer, but the prospects do look promising.
The campaign to pass the measure received $2.5 million from New Approach PAC – a non-profit focused on legalizing cannabis and psychedelics. The effort is well funded and many of Colorado’s citizens are passionate about legalizing psilocybin.
Natural Medicine Colorado is the organization leading the fight to pass Prop 122. They are well funded and reported in a poll that 50% of voters were for legalization. If that stands true on election day, it will be a tight race to pass the measure.