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Colorado Is ‘Leading The Nation’ On Psychedelics, Just As It Did With Marijuana, Governor Boasts In State Of The State Speech



In his annual State of the State address on Thursday, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) touted the state’s leadership on both adult-use marijuana and the emerging psychedelic reform movement—two areas where Colorado voters have led the country in adopting drug policy reforms.

“Colorado was the first state to legalize recreational use of cannabis, setting a standard for innovation and safety and economic mobility that’s been replicated by states across the nation and countries across the world, who come here to learn what Colorado did right,” Polis said in the speech. “Now, thanks to our voters, we’re once again leading the nation on natural medicine, unfreezing 50-plus years of stifled research to learn about the potential benefits for the people of our state and beyond.”

Colorado was one of two states where voters legalized cannabis through ballot measures in 2012 and it was the first to launch an adult-use market in 2014. In May of last year, Polis also signed a psychedelics regulation bill into law following a voter-approved initiative to legalize psychedelics in 2022, making it the first state to allow adults to legally produce, possess and use substances like psilocybin, ibogaine, mescaline and DMT.

While Polis has embraced the reforms, calling psychedelics a “promising” treatment option for certain mental health conditions, he previously declined to endorse the psychedelics proposal ahead of voters approving it in the 2022 election.

The governor nevertheless been supportive of the programs since then. In August, he said marijuana and psychedelics legalization had been “very good” for the state, adding that he believes adults generally should have the right to make decisions for themselves about using drugs.

In June of last year, as the state prepared to implement regulations for legal use of substances like psilocybin and ibogaine, Polis also called on lawmakers to give him the authority to issue mass pardons to people with past psychedelics convictions.

Last month he celebrated Colorado’s 10th anniversary of legal adult-use cannabis sales—the first of their kind in the nation.

“The legal cannabis industry has created thousands of jobs and helped grow our economy and we have made important progress around equity, industry growth, banking, and utilized sales revenue to build schools around the state,” Polis told Marijuana Moment at the time. “We continue pushing for a better, more efficient, and more just system that best serves the people of Colorado.”

Polis also recently hit back last week against Republican presidential candidate and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who made the dubious claim that Colorado’s illicit marijuana market is bigger today than it was before legalization.

“The facts are that Colorado voters approved the legalization of marijuana, which is curbing the illicit market, getting dealers off the streets, reducing youth use, funding school construction, supporting jobs and Colorado’s economy,” the governor’s spokesperson said. “Colorado is happy to provide the Florida governor advice on how to increase economic and personal freedom like we have in the free state of Colorado.”

Marijuana Moment is tracking more than 900 cannabis, psychedelics and drug policy bills in state legislatures and Congress this year. Patreon supporters pledging at least $25/month get access to our interactive maps, charts and hearing calendar so they don’t miss any developments.

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Earlier this month, Colorado marijuana regulators touted what they said were successes from the past year, such as opening up online sales. They also promoted new rules for the industry that take effect on next week—including increased sales limits for cannabis hospitality businesses that allow on-site use.

The governor, meanwhile, is proposing new cannabis tax revenue distributions at the state level to further promote equity and streamline licensing as he pushes for federal reform. And he said recently that his state should be at the “center” of the national and global marijuana trade once broad prohibition is lifted.

Polis separately reiterated that he “strongly” supports a congressional bill called the Secure and Fair Enforcement Regulation (SAFER) Banking Act to help normalize the marijuana industry at the federal level. But he added that what really needs to happen is federal legalization, which he hopes will enable Colorado to lead the sector at the national and international level.

The governor also recently applauded Biden after his administration’s top health agency recommended rescheduling marijuana—but he says the initial move must be followed with more action to address cannabis banking, immigration, criminal justice reform and federal enforcement concerns. Relatedly, the president did expand on his mass pardon this month, which Polis also touted as an example of the White House following Colorado’s lead.

Feds Will Release Marijuana Rescheduling Memo And Related Documents ‘In Their Entirety’ In Response To Lawsuit

Image element courtesy of Kristie Gianopulos.

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Ben Adlin, a senior editor at Marijuana Moment, has been covering cannabis and other drug policy issues professionally since 2011. He was previously a senior news editor at Leafly, an associate editor at the Los Angeles Daily Journal and a Coro Fellow in Public Affairs. He lives in Washington State.


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