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Colorado Psychedelics Legalization Initiative Qualifies for November Ballot

A.J. Herrington

By A.J. Herrington

July 26, 2022

growing psychedelic mushrooms Psilocybe Cubensis

iStock

A ballot measure designed to give adults access to natural

drugs will appear on the Colorado ballot this fall, according to an announcement from state officials made last week. On July 21, the office of Colorado Secretary of State announced that supporters of Initiative 58, the Natural Medicine Health Act, had gathered enough signatures to qualify the proposal for the November general election.

“We put a lot of work into the last year to design a measure with thoughtful guardrails that has the potential to help bring relief to so many people who are struggling with depression, anxiety, PTSD and other challenges,”

, a co-proponent of Initiative 58.

Initiative 58 would decriminalize the psychedelic drugs ibogaine, DMT, mescaline (excluding peyote), psilocybin and psilocin for adults 21 and older. Under the measure, the governor would be required to appoint a Natural Medicine Advisory Board, which would be tasked with implementing the decriminalization of natural psychedelics. The state would also license healing centers to supply psychedelic drugs and assist clients using them.

“The Natural Medicine Advisory Board has a big responsibility here to make sure that the program works for all Coloradans,”

. “That advisory board also will be reporting to the state legislature, specifically on the effects of how this is accessible for Coloradans.”

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Psychedelics for Mental Health

Matthews told local media last month that Initiative 58 is “designed for folks like veterans who are suffering from PTSD, folks who are suffering from terminal illnesses and are struggling with end of life challenges. And anybody would be able to actually access these services.”

“Coloradans deserve safe and structured access to these remarkable healing tools, and we’re excited to educate voters over the next few months to pass the Natural Medicine Health Act in November,” Matthews said.

In 2019, Denver voters decriminalized possession of psilocybin mushrooms, a campaign spearheaded by Matthews and the group Decriminalize Denver. Initiative 58 would go further and give more comprehensive protections for natural psychedelic drugs statewide.

“The way we’ve defined personal use, and that we’re approaching decriminalization, is that individuals would be able to use, possess, cultivate, store, and even share these natural medicines without facing any kind of criminal repercussions for it,” said Veronica Lightning Horse Perez, a co-proponent of Initiative 58.

Research into psychedelics continues to show that the drugs have promise as medicines, particularly for serious mental health conditions including addiction, depression and PTSD. Shannon Hughes, an associate professor in the School of Social Work at Colorado State University, is a researcher who studies psilocybin.

“In clinical trials of depression, they’re finding 60-80% of participants are reporting an immediate and substantial decrease in depression for end-of-life distress when you’re facing a terminal illness,” Hughes said about the use of psilocybin mushrooms.

The initiative effort is supported by the New Approach PAC, a Washington, D.C. political action committee focused on drug policy reform that has contributed $2.5 million to the psychedelics legalization campaign. The group has supported cannabis legalization initiatives across the country and helped fund a successful initiative campaign in Oregon that legalized the therapeutic use of psilocybin in 2020.

A separate ballot proposal, the Legal Possession and Use of Entheogenic Plants and Fungi Act (

), would also legalize natural psychedelic drugs, but it does not include provisions for the regulation of commercial psychedelic ventures. Supporters of Initiative 61 have until August 8 to collect enough signatures to qualify the measure for the November ballot.

Both initiatives face opposition from Coloradans who are concerned that the ballot measures may lead to the legalization of the recreational use of psychedelic drugs.

“This is going to be very, very bad for the state of Colorado,” said Jeff Hunt, director of the Centennial Institute at Colorado Christian University. “They may start with decriminalization today, but the end game is full commercialization. They want shops on street corners selling psychedelic mushrooms, and they want to make money off of it. This is ultimately about money. This is about making money off the backs of drug addicted Coloradans.”

A.J. Herrington

About The Author

A.J. Herrington

HIGH THERE MISSION

WE’RE A CREATIVE COMMUNITY — EXPLORING THE SCIENCE, CRAFT, AND CULTURE OF CANNABIS.
WE BELIEVE THAT WE HAVE A COLLECTIVE RESPONSIBILITY TOWARDS ERADICATING THE STIGMA, MISINFORMATION, AND INEQUITIES SURROUNDING THIS PLANT, SO WE CAN UNLOCK ITS TRUE POTENTIAL FOR ALL.

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