Colorado could decriminalize hallucinogenic mushrooms

Colorado could decriminalize hallucinogenic mushrooms

In 2014, Jason Lopez awoke from an alcohol-induced slumber at a family reunion in Colorado in a state of crisis, having just completed his third tour in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Army Special Forces soldier, believing that he was once again engaged in combat, picked up the hefty coffee table in front of him and tossed it across the living room.

Lopez, now 34 and out of the military, stated, “I was coming out of an acute panic situation, believing I was in physical hand-to-hand battle and not knowing if I was dreaming or awake.”

Lopez, recognizing that he was having PTSD symptoms, rejected taking the powerful synthetic medicines he claims are frequently administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Instead, he went to the substance with which he had experimented for much of his life: hallucinogenic mushrooms.

Lopez is among a group of veterans, proponents of natural medicine, mental health advocates, and business owners who support a November ballot initiative in Colorado that would decriminalize so-called “magic mushrooms” for those aged 21 and older and create state-regulated “healing centers” where participants can experience the drug under the supervision of a licensed “facilitator.” Veterans such as Lopez have been at the vanguard of national efforts to encourage politicians to investigate the therapeutic use of hallucinogenic mushrooms.

If the proposal passes, Colorado would join Oregon in instituting a regulated system for substances such as psilocybin and psilocin, the hallucinogenic compounds found in certain mushrooms. After June 1, 2026, Colorado would allow an advisory board to add other plant-based psychedelic chemicals to the program, such as dimethyltryptamine, generally known as DMT, ibogaine, and mescaline that are not derived from peyote, a species of cactus that certain conservation groups are attempting to protect.

The ballot issue comes a decade after Colorado decided to legalize recreational marijuana, resulting in the establishment of a multibillion-dollar business and hundreds of shops throughout the state.

Proponents claim that incarcerating individuals for the nonviolent charge of consuming naturally occurring narcotics is costly for taxpayers. In addition, they argue that the state’s current approach to mental health is ineffective and that naturally occurring psychedelics, which have been used for centuries, can help depression, anxiety, addiction, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other illnesses.

“When I’m on psychedelics, such as mushrooms or psilocybin, my eyes are opened to the beauty of the planet and the love I feel for it. All of the wrath, irritation, and frustration dissipate. It evaporates away “Lopez also participated in the successful push to legalize marijuana for recreational use in Colorado.

However, opponents of the most recent ballot campaign point out that the Food and Drug Administration has not certified psychedelics as medicines. In addition, they claim that permitting “healing centers” to exist and private use of the medications will endanger public safety and give the wrong message to children and adults that the chemicals are healthy.

Luke Niforatos, the head of the ballot committee Protect Colorado’s Kids, which opposes drug legalization and decriminalization attempts, stated, “I prefer medical advice from doctors and scientists to that of businesspeople any day of the week.” “We ought to heed the advice of the American Psychiatric Association. We should heed the FDA’s advice. We must heed the advice of our doctors. We should not listen to profit-motivated individuals.”

Niforatos stated that the same wealthy players who have pushed for the legalization of recreational marijuana in multiple states are behind the latest initiative and are employing a “drug legalization playbook” to create a commercial market that could eventually lead to recreational dispensaries for dangerous and federally illegal substances.

Natural Medicine The group responsible for the initiative in Colorado has raised approximately $5,4 million. About three-quarters of that amount, or $4.2 million, has been contributed by New Approach PAC, a national drug policy organization that also finances marijuana initiatives in other states.

“They began with medical marijuana and then transitioned to recreational use. Now they’re beginning with psychedelic medications. We can only presume that they will now engage in recreational psychedelic use “Niforatos, whose organisation has raised approximately $50,000, stated. The usage of the medications could result in protracted psychosis, chronic hallucinogenic illnesses, and impaired driving, he cautioned.

Mason Tvert, who led the campaign to legalize recreational marijuana in Colorado in 2012, stated that the campaign to decriminalize psychedelic mushrooms and other natural substances differs from the recreational marijuana campaign because voters are not being asked to allow dispensaries this time around.

Tvert, a partner at VS Strategies, a Denver-based drug policy and public relations consulting business, said, “We’re voting on whether to allow (psilocybin) in very limited environments including a great deal of control, safety, and specialists.”

The psychedelics that would be decriminalized if the proposal passes are designated as schedule 1 controlled narcotics under state and federal law, as drugs with no recognised medicinal value and a high potential for abuse.

The FDA has nevertheless categorized psilocybin as a “breakthrough therapy” for the treatment of severe depressive disorder. The classification can speed research, development, and review of a medicine if it has the potential to provide significant improvements over existing treatments.

A preliminary study published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday indicated that psilocybin may alleviate depression in certain difficult-to-treat patients. The small effects diminished over time, but they aided individuals who had previously received little relief from conventional antidepressants.

The ballot initiative in Colorado would enable those over 21 to use, cultivate, possess, and share psychedelic substances, but not sell them for personal use. It would also allow those convicted of crimes involving these narcotics to have their criminal records expunged.

Those who wish to utilize mushrooms would not require a doctor’s approval. In addition to being able to cultivate and utilize their own mushrooms, those interested in the therapy would be able to do so through the newly established “healing centers,” which would be permitted to provide customers with mushrooms but not sell them. Instead, patrons would pay for the “facilitator’s” services at the facility.

56% of voters supported Ballot Measure 109, making Oregon the first state in the US to legalize the therapeutic, supervised use of psilocybin in 2020. In contrast to Colorado, however, the state permits counties to opt out of the program if their residents so choose.

In Colorado, counties and towns could regulate but not prohibit “healing centers.”

The initiative in Oregon is projected to go into effect at the start of the following year, and if successful, Colorado would begin detailing restrictions no later than the start of 2024.

Washington, D.C., and Denver have already partially decriminalized hallucinogenic mushrooms by mandating that law enforcement agents give them low priority. Even if Colorado’s proposal passes, the chemicals would remain unlawful under federal law outside of limited scientific study circumstances.

 

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