Colorado Activists File Competing Psychedelics Legalization Ballot Initiative For 2022
About a week after Colorado activists filed revised versions of 2022 ballot initiatives to legalize psilocybin and create “healing centers” in the state, a second campaign has submitted their own competing proposal to legalize psychedelics.
Activists with Decriminalize Nature Boulder County filed the new, one-page initiative on Friday. It would allow adults 21 and older to possess, cultivate, gift and deliver psilocybin, psilocyn, ibogaine, mescaline and DMT.
Further, the measure says that it would be lawful to conduct psychedelics services for guidance, therapy and harm reduction and spiritual purposes with or without accepting payment. It would not be legal to sell any of the psychedelics, however.
The campaign is being headed by activists Nicole Foerster and Melanie Rodgers, a proponent of Denver’s 2019 psilocybin decriminalization initiative who also petitioned for a successful Washington, D.C. decriminalization measure.
“Without decriminalization and the security it allows for affected communities to more effectively organize, regulatory models will make it difficult for the most disadvantaged groups of our population to continue to access the natural medicines they safely use to heal,” Foerster said in a press release. “To address this we are advocating for a simple change to existing laws around these controlled substances.”
The new filing is a sign of splintering between Colorado advocates who share the objective of ending psychedelics criminalization and ensuring access but who apparently disagree about the regulatory approach.
The separate, recently revised initiatives filed by the well-funded national New Approach PAC and supported by people like philanthropist David Bronner of the soap company Dr. Bronner’s is much more thorough and contains key differences from the simple adult-use legalization proposal that have now been introduced.
Under the revised measures, which are titled the Natural Medicine Health Act, there would be a two-tiered regulatory model, where only psilocybin would be legalized and regulated for therapeutic use until June 2026, after which point regulators could expand the policy change to include other psychedelics that are listed in the proposal like ibogaine, DMT and mescaline that’s not derived from peyote.
The decision to add additional psychedelics to the program would be made by the Department of Regulatory Agencies in consultation with a Natural Medicine Advisory Board that would be established. The board would be comprised of 15 members, including people who have experience with psychedelic medicine in a scientific and religious context.
There would be no possession limits for the entheogenic substances, unlike the initial measures that were filed by the campaign last month.
These latest filing comes more than two years after Denver became the first city in the U.S. to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms. Kevin Matthews, who served as campaign director of that local push, is now a chief petitioner for the wider ranging statewide ballot effort. Various activists involved in the 2019 campaign have signaled interest in building upon the reform.
The initiatives must still be assigned an official ballot title and summary from the state before they’re approved to begin signature gathering. The broader measures are scheduled to receive a review and comment hearing on February 3, whereas the new initiative filed on Friday is set to be heard on February 11.
If approved by state officials, activists will need to collect 124,632 valid signatures from registered voters to achieve ballot access.
The Colorado ballot initiatives seek to accomplish something similar to what California activists are actively pursuing. California advocates are in the process of collecting signatures for a ballot initiative to legalize psilocybin mushrooms in the state.
Meanwhile in Colorado, Sen. Joann Ginal (D) and Rep. Alex Valdez (D) filed a modest bill this month to create a one-year plant-based medicine policy review panel that would be tasked with studying the “use of plant-based medicines to support mental health,” according to a summary. The ballot campaign is not affiliated with that legislative effort.
“The policy review panel shall submit a report on its findings and policy recommendations to the House of Representatives Public and Behavioral Health and Human Services Committee and the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, or any successor committees; the governor; and the Department of Human Services,” it says.
Meanwhile, legislative efforts to enact psychedelics reform are also underway in other states across the country.
For example, a bill to decriminalize a wide array of psychedelics in Virginia was taken up by a House of Delegates panel on Monday, only to be pushed off until 2023. A separate Senate proposal to decriminalize psilocybin alone was defeated in a key committee on Monday.
In Oregon, where voters approved a historic 2020 initiative to legalize therapeutic psilocybin program, as well as another to broadly decriminalize currently illicit drugs, lawmakers introduced a bill last week meant to promote equity into the program.
Two Republican Oklahoma lawmakers recently filed bills meant to promote research into the therapeutic potential of psilocybin, and one of the measures would further decriminalize low-level possession of the psychedelic.
A GOP Utah lawmaker also introduced a bill this month that would set up a task force to study and make recommendations on the therapeutic potential of psychedelic drugs and possible regulations for their lawful use.
In Kansas, A lawmaker also recently filed a bill to legalize the low-level possession and cultivation of psilocybin mushrooms.
A Republican Missouri lawmaker introduced a bill this month to give residents with serious illnesses legal access to a range of psychedelic drugs like psilocybin, ibogaine and LSD through an expanded version of the state’s existing right-to-try law.
California Sen. Scott Wiener (D) told Marijuana Moment in a recent interview that his bill to legalize psychedelics possession stands a 50/50 chance of reaching the governor’s desk this year. It already cleared the full Senate and two Assembly committees during the first half of the two-year session.
In Michigan, a pair of state senators introduced a bill in September to legalize the possession, cultivation and delivery of various plant- and fungi-derived psychedelics like psilocybin and mescaline.
Washington State lawmakers also introduced legislation this month that would legalize what the bill calls “supported psilocybin experiences” by adults 21 and older.
In Vermont, a broad coalition of lawmakers representing nearly a third of the House introduced a bill to decriminalize drug possession.
New Hampshire lawmakers filed measures to decriminalize psilocybin and all drugs.
Last year, the governor of Connecticut signed legislation that includes language requiring the state to carry out a study into the therapeutic potential of psilocybin mushrooms.
At the congressional level, bipartisan lawmakers sent a letter to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) this month, urging that the agency allow terminally ill patients to use psilocybin as an investigational treatment without the fear of federal prosecution.
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