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Magic Mushrooms: What Now?

Proposition 122, or the Natural Medicine Health Act, was passed on November 8th making Colorado only the second state in the nation to decriminalize the use of certain psychedelic plants and fungi for people over the age of 21. The ballot also called for the establishment of a regulated medical access program for these substances overseen by the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA). 

Despite the legislation passing, not everyone in the psychedelic community is convinced that Proposition 122 provides the best pathway to legalization. Nate Priebe, a board member from the Psychedelic Club of Denver has concerns about the way Proposition 122 sets up psychedelic regulation and who the gatekeepers behind this natural medicine would be under the current framework.  

“What I would want to see, and what I’m sure most people would want to see is a window of community input, that’s pretty extended. Maybe like six months, where people have a chance to say what they want to say, and for it to get heard. Let’s allow enough time for those changes or considerations to be implemented.”

DORA has until September 30, 2024, to adopt the rules necessary to implement the Regulated Natural Medicine Access Program and begin accepting applications for patients. Until then, psychedelic advocates and practitioners will push to have a say in how legal regulation is handled.

Priebe says that there is disagreement among leadership members of the Psychedelic Club regarding Proposition 122, most of which surrounds the regulatory access portion of the measure and its potential for inequity.

“Insurance is not going to be an option for this, at least not for a while, and not under this framework at all,” said Priebe. “People with adequate financial resources are going to benefit. And those without are just, again, swept under the rug.” 

To muddy the waters even further, Proposition 122 was backed by the New Approach PAC, who contributed $4.5 million to the Natural Medicine Health Act. New Approach was a huge proponent to the legalization of marijuana in 2012, which has become one of the most commercialized industries over the past decade. 

Some psychedelic advocates are now worried that the same thing will happen with magic mushrooms and other natural psychedelics as corporate interest could take over a community once dedicated to the American counterculture. 

While Proposition 122 focuses predominately on the medical uses of psychoactive plants, psychedelics have been used as a means of spiritual and religious passage by non-western cultures for thousands of years.

“Some people are concerned that it pushes legacy practitioners or the people who have been holding ceremonies out of the space. And they are the ones who should be the most protected and most informed.” said Priebe. “So, you’re kind of coming in and saying, ‘Oh, if you have this degree that counts. Oh, you’ve been doing this for 20 years, and it’s been working out? Too bad you don’t have a degree.”   

Psylocibin mushrooms were already decriminalized in the City of Denver in 2019, but the current measure would extend decriminalization statewide and offers an alternative solution to Colorado’s mental health crisis through its regulated access program.  

The initiative states, “Colorado’s current approach to mental health has failed to fulfill its promise. Coloradans deserve more tools to address mental health issues, including approaches such as natural medicines that are grounded in treatment, recovery, health and wellness.”

The ballot measure was very tight with a winning margin of only 3.5%, showing that many Coloradans were split on the decision to embrace or reject Proposition 122. 

“I had my own trajectory of being very excited for it,” said Priebe, “I’m like, ‘Wow, this is legislation that would be really novel, and progressive, and I want to be part of this.’ And then I listened to more, I read more and saw the downsides, or the gray area that could be exploited. And it was scary. And then I flipped. And then I realized nothing was black and white. So, I kind of settled in the middle.”

The Psychedelic Club of Denver originally served as a proponent for Proposition 122, firmly believing that any way to expand access to psychedelics would be beneficial toward the movement.  But as opposition debates began to include members of the psychedelic community, the club converted to a neutral position and hosted a platform for each side to raise their arguments in an open forum. 

Priebe says that the decriminalization of natural psychedelics and establishment of a regulated access program will be great for people who are otherwise afraid to have any first experiences with them or not be able to find the right channels to locate an underground practitioner. He just hopes that the power behind this new form of regulation stays within the community and isn’t outsourced to corporate practice. 

“The way I see it is that the clear benefits of this passing will be expanding access off the bat. And it would also include other substances, which are plants and aren’t hurting anyone and allow people to have experiences meaningful to them, that’s a clear benefit. But the legal or regulatory side is a lot more contentious.”

To learn more about the Psychedelic Club of Denver and their services to the community visit their website here.

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  • Well written you have a gift!!!

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