The Psychedelics Renaissance is Here - Colorado May Become the Second State in the Nation to Legalize Therapeutic Psychedelics

26 October 2022 Health Care Law Today Blog
Author(s): Lauren P. Carboni

This November, Coloradans have opportunity to make history and vote for Colorado to become the second state in the country to regulate therapeutic access to “natural medicines.”

Proposition 122 would enact the Natural Medicine Health Act of 2022 (NMHA) which would legalize supervised or facilitated therapeutic sessions for adults twenty-one and older using certain entheogens (better known as psychedelic plants and fungi) including psilocybin, psilocyn, mescaline (excluding peyote), ibogaine, and dimethyltryptamine (DMT) (defined as Natural Medicines) by licensed individuals in state-approved settings (Natural Medicines Services). If passed, the NMHA would initially be limited to only psilocybin and psilocin until June 1, 2026, at that point the state may expand it to include DMT, ibogaine, and mescaline. Under the NMHA, Natural Medicines can only be taken at a licensed facility and commercial sale to consumers is strictly prohibited.

Proposition 122 would also decriminalize the personal use and possession of Natural Medicines for adults twenty-one years and older. If enacted, this would follow a similar path taken by Denver voters in 2019 when they approved passage of Ordinance 301 (the Psilocybin Mushroom Initiative), which reduced adult personal possession of psilocybin to law enforcement’s lowest priority.

The inclusion of the NMHA on the November ballot signifies the psychedelic renaissance is well underway. Colorado and other states have acknowledged that our country is experiencing a mental health crisis. With an extensive and growing body of scientific research, which supports the efficacy of Natural Medicines with psychotherapy to treat mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and suicidality, several states and cities are or have taken steps to allow their citizens safe access to psychedelics for therapeutic purposes.

For example, in November 2020, through Ballot Measure 109, Oregon became the first state to regulate therapeutic psilocybin sessions for adults twenty-one years and older through the Oregon Psilocybin Services Act. On the city level, in September 2022, San Francisco joined the list of growing cities, including Ann Arbor, Denver, Detroit, Ann Arbor, Oakland, Seattle, Washington D.C., and others to decriminalize the personal adult use of entheogenic plants.

If Colorado voters pass Proposition 122, Colorado will become the second state in the nation to regulate legal access to facilitated Natural Medicine services.

Key provisions of the NMHA include:

  • Coloradans do not need a certain medical or mental health diagnosis(es) to access Natural Medicine services. In fact, the NMHA does not mention a diagnosis in any capacity.
  • The Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) must adopt rules to implement the NMHA and being accepting applications for licensure by September 30, 2024.
  • Under the proposed regulatory scheme, an individual cannot have a financial interest in more than 5 healing centers. A “healing center” is an entity licensed by DORA to provide Natural Medicine Services or products/supplies related to Natural Medicine Services. Notably, “individual” is not defined in the current draft of NMHA, which suggests corporations may be excluded from this limitation.
  • DORA must develop and implement a public education campaign related to the use of Natural Medicine, which includes training for law enforcement, first responders, emergency medical services, social services, and fire services.
  • DORA must also engage in a study of the regulation of dosage for off-site use of Natural Medicines and report findings to the State Legislature.
  • If passed, localities cannot ban or prohibit licensed facilities from providing Natural Medicine services within their jurisdictions.
  • Employers would not be required to permit or accommodate the use, consumption, possession, transfer, display, transportation or growing of Natural Medicines in the workplace.

In addition to the NMHA, earlier this year the Colorado legislature enacted a law, which would legalize the prescribing, dispensing, transporting, posing and using of MDMA prescriptions if and when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approves the substance for prescription use.

We will continue to monitor developments in Colorado and provide relevant updates as the psychedelic renaissance presses forward.

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