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Colorado Ballot Initiatives Filed to Legalize Psychedelics

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Colorado’s 2022 ballot may contain initiatives looking to decriminalize psychedelics including psilocybin, DMT, mescaline, and ibogaine. Should the legislative filings move forward, midterm voters will decide on the establishment of a licensing system for local businesses controlling the regulated production of and access to psychedelic substances for “healing centers and other permitted entities.”

Two separate ballot initiatives filed earlier this month  — both titled ‘Natural Medicine Healing Act’ — outline plans first  to decriminalize psychedelics and establish a regulatory framework for therapy; and to legalize psilocybin and psilocin while increasing medical access to the substances.

The ballot initiatives were submitted by the lobbyist group New Approach PAC, Westword reports. The group has also been engaged in campaigns including Oregon’s Ballot Measure 109, and California’s bill to decriminalize psychedelics. 

“Colorado’s current approach to mental health has failed to fulfill its promise,” the ballot proposals read. “Coloradans deserve more tools to address mental health issues, including approaches such as natural medicines, that are grounded in treatment, recovery, health, and wellness rather than criminalization, stigma, suffering, and punishment.”

This state-wide initiative comes two years after Denver decriminalized psilocybin 2019 through a ballot initiative. Local activists recently submitted the 2021 Comprehensive Report to the city council, asking to expand decriminalization for gifting and communal sharing; and establishing first responder interventions for psychedelics.

Under the first, broader decrim initiative, a regulated access program would be established under the  Department of Regulatory Agencies to oversee “the manufacture, testing, storage, transport, delivery, sale, and purchase of natural medicines” including ibogaine, DMT, mescaline (except peyote), psilocybin, and psilocin, between healing centers for individuals over the age of 21.

The ballot proposal also sets an “allowable amount” of four grams of the active psychoactive substance, which does not include the weight of the material that the substance is a part of.

Moreover, the ballot text also mentions clearing criminal records for psychedelic-related activities considered to be decriminalized. 

The proposed initiative doesn’t outline criminal penalties on the possession and use of the substance as long as it is under four grams. 

The second initiative is similar, but narrower— focusing on psilocybin and psilocin. The initiative would decriminalize possession and use of psilocybin mushrooms, and will be overseen by the Department of Regulatory Agencies, similar to the broader decrim bill. However, there are a few points of difference, such as not granting the authority to create an advisory board, and giving local municipalities power to ban healing centers in the area. 

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Signature collection will begin once both are approved by the state government. 

However, during a virtual meeting on December 16, Decriminalize Nature Boulder County’s Nicole Foerster condemned the ballot initiatives, saying, “They’re looking to create these top-down, restrictive policies in places where grassroots community has been the strongest and where policy has been passed by grassroots community.”

She added, “If we wait too long to decriminalize or to create equitable access frameworks for psilocybin, then we allow these FDA models to take more control, and they’ll be able to spend more money against groups like us [who want] to decriminalize and create equity and community-driven policies.”

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