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Colorado Senate Passes Bill That Could Ban Social Media Users Who Post Positively About Drugs—Including Legal Psychedelics



Colorado’s Senate has approved a sweeping social media bill that, among other provisions, could force platforms to ban users for talking positively online about certain controlled substances, such as state-legal psychedelics, certain hemp products and even some over-the-counter cough syrups.

The legislation, SB24-158—a broad proposal concerning internet age verification and content policies—would require social media platforms to immediately remove any user “who promotes, sells, or advertises an illicit substance.”

Initially that provision would have applied to all controlled substances under state law—including state-legal marijuana—but an amendment last month from the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Chris Hansen (D), includes language saying that “a social media platform may allow a user to promote, sell, or advertise medical marijuana or retail marijuana to users who are at least twenty-one years of age” so long as the content complies with state cannabis laws.

The amended legislation would still apply to numerous other legal and illegal substances.

On Wednesday, the Senate voted 30–1 to pass the revised measure on third reading, with four members excused.

Earlier this week, the Senate Appropriations Committee also adopted two amendments to the bill, including one adding staff funding for the state attorney general’s office and another that could make the act subject to voter approval in November.

Critics say even with the marijuana-related amendment, the bill could create major problems for users trying to post benign—and legal—content around substances like cough medicine.

“The updated version would still prevent users from from promoting NyQuil or anti-anxiety medications among many others, even though it exempts marijuana,” R Street Institute Fellow Shoshana Weismann, who first called out the potential problems in the bill’s drug-related language, told Marijuana Moment last month. “And if you promote those medications, you will be reported to law enforcement. That is asinine.”

The amended bill also still specifies that its restrictions apply to certain hemp products with more than 1.25 milligrams THC or a CBD-to-THC ratio of less than 20 to 1, as well as most other hemp-containing products intended for human consumption that are not “a dietary supplement, a food, a food additive, or an herb.”

Hansen, the bill’s sponsor, has not responded to separate questions or follow-up emails from Marijuana Moment about whether his legislation intends to ban, for example, a 19-year old medical marijuana patient who posts about medical marijuana to their Instagram story, a user posting to Facebook that the use of a Schedule V over-the-counter cough syrup helped them feel better or even potentially promotion by Gov. Jared Polis (D) of the state’s legal psychedelics industry—as a plain reading of the bill might suggest.

Hansen said nearly a month ago that he was “working on answers” to those questions. He did not immediately respond to a follow-up email on Wednesday.

Kevin Matthews, director of the campaign in Denver that made the city the first in the U.S. to decriminalize psilocybin, said on Facebook after Wednesday’s vote that the bill would “make it nearly impossible to even simply talk about plant and fungi medicine on any social media network without state monitoring.”

The measure’s language “severely handicaps the emergent psychedelic ecosystem at all levels to educate the public,” Matthews continued, “and gives broad powers to a state apparatus to take legal action against individuals for expressing their opinion online.”

Social media companies would be required to update policies and post them publicly on or before July 1, 2025 under the proposal. Updates to social media policies would also need to be posted online within 14 days of implementation.

Companies would also be mandated to submit reports annually to the state attorney general a statement “of whether the current version of the published policies contain definitions and provisions relating to illicit substances,” according to a legislative summary of the bill provided to a Senate committee.

Earlier this year, Colorado marijuana regulators also touted industry successes from the past year and promoted their new hospitality rules for the industry, including increased sales limits for cannabis hospitality businesses that allow on-site use.

One of the things they touted is a rule about online sales that took effect last August. Customers must still physically pick up the marijuana products from retailers, but now they can browse and electronically purchase cannabis online ahead of visiting the store.

Polis has praised the state’s reputation on marijuana and even said in January that Colorado is “leading the nation” on psychedelics, just as it did with cannabis.

“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 his latest State of the State address. “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.”

As for federal reform, the governor said about marijuana earlier this month that while legalization is the ultimate goal, incremental rescheduling and cannabis banking reform are important “dominoes” that could help pave the way. He said Colorado continues to have “very strong conversations with the White House” about the need for policy change.

Colorado has seen more than $15 billion in legal marijuana sales since opening day a decade ago. The state’s nonpartisan Legislative Council Staff (LCS) released a report last August showing that Colorado generated more tax revenue from cannabis than alcohol or cigarettes during the last fiscal year. The Colorado Department of Revenue’s Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED), meanwhile, recently touted an ID verification compliance rate of 99 percent at the state’s cannabis businesses.

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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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