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Colorado’s Psychedelic Laws: What You Need to Know

Today, we take you on a journey deep into the heart of Colorado’s evolving psychedelic landscape. This article is inspired by our insightful podcast episode hosted by Psychedelic Passage co-founder, Jimmy Nguyen, which you can listen to on all streaming platforms. 

As 2023 unfolds, the state has garnered significant attention for the groundbreaking psychedelic laws and regulations. We meticulously dissect the nuances of the state’s approach, offering a comprehensive exploration of both the regulated model and the personal use/community side. 

We’ll also elaborate on the rules established by SB 23290, also known as the Natural Medicine Health Act, and how it sets the stage for further developments. While the regulatory model is ambitious and forward-thinking, it’s not without its challenges and criticisms. 

We take a balanced view, shedding light on the pros and cons of this evolving landscape. Due to the absence of a well-defined framework for the personal use and community side, we also offer insights into the legal environment that allows for possession, consumption, and gifting of natural medicines in Colorado.

Key Takeaways

  • Colorado’s Dual Framework: Colorado has adopted a distinctive approach to regulating psychedelics by establishing two parallel frameworks — one focusing on regulation for licensed facilities and service providers, and the other on personal use or decriminalization.
  • Advisory Board Involvement: The state has set up an advisory board to recommend policies and rules, ensuring thoughtful and inclusive regulations. This board collaborates with various departments and addresses diverse aspects, such as harm reduction, licensing, and indigenous and religious use.
  • Challenges and Responsibilities: Colorado faces challenges, including concerns about the speed of regulation, potential exclusion of indigenous voices, and uncertainties regarding the interaction between the regulated and personal use models. Building a safe psychedelic ecosystem involves addressing issues of support services, oversight, and distinguishing qualified facilitators from those who may be ill-equipped for their role.
  • Psychedelic Passage: Your Psychedelic Concierge — The easy, legal way to find trustworthy psilocybin guides, facilitators and psychedelic-assisted therapy near you in the United States.

Download Our Free Psilocybin Sourcing Guide

For harm-reduction purposes, we provide links to online psilocybin vendors, local stores, delivery services, and spore vendors for growing your own medicine at home.

Colorado’s Unique Approach

Colorado’s approach to psychedelics is distinctive, differentiating itself from the first state to adopt a regulated model, Oregon. The Centennial State has effectively established two parallel frameworks: one focused on regulation and the other on personal use or decriminalization.

This approach significantly differs from the state’s approach to cannabis, as there is no provision for a consumer or commercial model for accessing psilocybin. Unlike cannabis dispensaries, Colorado is not creating psilocybin outlets.

The Regulated Model

The regulated model aims to create a well-structured framework for licensed facilities and service providers to offer services directly related to psychedelics. 

“The regulated model is an attempt to establish the rules and frameworks for licensed facilities, licensed service providers to be able to offer services directly related to psychedelics. 

This might be psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy, psychedelic-assisted support services, and essentially building the regulated framework for a state-run industry here in Colorado.”

Initially, Colorado’s regulatory focus is on psilocybin and psilocin, the active compounds found in psychedelic mushrooms. Future plans include regulating other psychedelics such as DMT, ibogaine, and non-peyote-derived mescaline, though this is projected to occur in 2025 or 2026.

The key legislation that set the stage for this transformative journey was SB 23290, which essentially formalized Proposition 122, known as the Natural Medicine Health Act. These legislative measures provide the legal framework for the ongoing developments.

The Role of the Advisory Board

To ensure that these regulations are thoughtful and inclusive, the Colorado government has established an advisory board. 

This board collaborates with various departments, such as the Department of Revenue and the Department of Public Health and Environment, and includes representatives from diverse backgrounds. 

“There’s a subcommittee on harm reduction and public safety, a subcommittee on qualifications, licensing and training, a subcommittee on indigenous and religious use and outreach. Another one being emergency response, safety and ethics.”

The advisory board’s responsibility is to recommend policies and rules, which will undergo rulemaking in the first half of 2024. This rulemaking process will set the stage for the issuance of licenses to psychedelic healing centers and facilitators. 

The Division of Professions and Occupations in Colorado has committed to making the licensing and application process for these entities public by December 31, 2024.

Challenges and Criticisms

Colorado’s journey to regulate psychedelics is not without its share of challenges and criticisms. Some argue that the regulated model is moving too quickly without sufficient community research and outreach to assess the actual needs of the people. 

Indigenous voices, especially concerning the religious use of peyote, have expressed concerns about being excluded from the decision-making process. 

The fear is that traditional practices may be marginalized in the pursuit of broader access to these substances. There are also concerns about how the regulatory model will interact with the personal use or decriminalization side, and whether it offers adequate safeguards.

The Personal Use or Decriminalization Model

In tandem with the regulated model, Colorado has implemented a personal use or decriminalization model, decriminalizing the possession and use of various natural psychedelics, including DMT, mescaline, ibogaine, psilocybin, and psilocin. 

“That’s an important distinction that on the regulated model, the focus is psilocybin and psilocin, but on the personal use side or the community decrim side, it does include the possession and use of these other substances.”

This unique approach also allows for the gifting of natural medicines, primarily focused on psilocybin-containing mushrooms

Individuals must be 21 years or older to partake in the personal use model, and it is crucial to ensure that bona fide harm reduction services or support services are provided in conjunction with the gifting of natural medicines. 

The law explicitly states that gifting does not extend to synthetics or synthetic analogs, making it primarily applicable to psilocybin and psilocin. 

The personal use or decriminalization model appears to be a stopgap measure, designed to meet the immediate demand for psychedelic services while the regulated model takes shape.

With regulated services not expected until 2025, this model fills a void for those seeking assistance with psychedelics today.

Download Our Free Psilocybin Sourcing Guide

For harm-reduction purposes, we provide links to online psilocybin vendors, local stores, delivery services, and spore vendors for growing your own medicine at home.

Building a Safe Psychedelic Ecosystem

With regulating psychedelics comes a pressing concern – the establishment of a comprehensive support system for those seeking to explore the world of psychedelic medicines and substances. 

Support Services for Psychedelic Journeys

When venturing into the realm of psychedelic experiences, it is essential to have a network of support services readily available. Individuals embarking on a psychedelic journey may require various forms of assistance, from finding a skilled facilitator to seeking advice on dosages.

Moreover, participants might grapple with underlying mental health or medical conditions that necessitate proper assessment and vetting.

In response to these multifaceted needs, Colorado envisions the involvement of nurse practitioners or medical directors in the screening and support process. This design is meant to ensure the safety and well-being of those embarking on their psychedelic odyssey.

Safety and Oversight

The provision of reliable and ethical support services is paramount, given the profound and often transformative nature of psychedelic experiences. 

The state’s regulatory framework appears to be taking necessary steps to address this, however, there is still considerable ambiguity surrounding what constitutes bona fide harm reduction or support services.

The lack of clear criteria for assessing the legitimacy of such services raises questions about who is qualified to offer them. It’s a fine balance between ensuring access to these services for a diverse range of individuals and safeguarding the integrity of the process.

“It’s important that individuals who are conducting this work hold themselves to a high level of ethical standard, have well-defined protocols and well-established practices–

That they have their own experience with the substance that they have experience in supporting others through these types of psychedelic altered states of consciousness.”

One of the most important aspects is distinguishing qualified facilitators from individuals who may be ill-equipped for this role. 

The ease with which people can access and be influenced by psychedelic experiences can lead some to believe they are called to become facilitators without the necessary qualifications or experience.

Ensuring that those who embark on this path have the competence to provide a safe and effective space for others is an ongoing concern. 

Balancing Regulatory and Community Models

Colorado’s unique approach combining a regulated model with personal use and decriminalization opens up the discussion of how these models intersect and potentially create challenges. 

The regulated side of the framework may become more appealing if it imposes stringent criteria for access, potentially sidelining community-driven, non-clinical approaches.

Simultaneously, this creates an onus on the community-driven model to develop its safeguards, potentially through community-oriented initiatives and support services. 

Currently, Colorado is grappling with this dynamic, and as the regulatory model evolves, it remains to be seen how it affects community-driven initiatives.

The Need for a Community-Driven Model

The transcript also highlights a pressing need for a community-driven model with checks and balances. Such a model can ensure that individuals can verify the credentials and suitability of facilitators. 

It aims to provide clarity and establish a framework for evaluating the ethical standards, qualifications, and track records of those who offer support services.

Without such a model, the nascent Colorado framework leaves those seeking psychedelic experiences in a position of uncertainty and reliance on the claims of facilitators.

Responsibility and Informed Decision-Making

The evolving landscape of psychedelic regulations in Colorado not only enables broader access to these substances but also imposes a significant responsibility on individuals. 

“It’s really important for us here at Psychedelic Passage to express that engaging with your consciousness, especially through psychedelic medicines, we feel is a fundamental human right. We also feel like it’s a big right of yours to decide who and how you engage with these medicines.”

With these powerful medicines becoming more accessible, it’s crucial for individuals to do their homework, ask questions, and rely on informed consent to ensure their safety and well-being.

Given the relative novelty of this framework in the United States, there is an inherent risk for errors and potential harm, making it more vital than ever for those interested in psychedelics to exercise diligence and discernment.

Colorado as a Trailblazer

As Jimmy highlights, Colorado finds itself at an intriguing precipice. It has become the state that the entire nation is closely watching. 

Much like its pioneering role in the cannabis industry, Colorado’s journey into regulating psychedelics might establish frameworks that other states adopt. This transformative shift could influence the way the entire United States approaches the regulation of psychedelic substances.

In the realm of psychedelics, Colorado has ushered in a unique approach by balancing a regulated model and personal use or decriminalization. 

This dynamic places a substantial responsibility on the facilitators, the community side, and all those operating within the somewhat unregulated gray space. The responsibility isn’t just a moral obligation but a legal and ethical one as well.

“I’m really grateful that the National Medicine Health Act has established these pathways of which community use is okay. The possession and consumption of psychedelics is generally low risk from a legal perspective.  But the paradox is that it still creates a lot of dynamics in which it’s really hard for a psychedelic curious person to navigate.”

Colorado’s position as a trailblazer in the evolving psychedelic landscape symbolizes a turning point in how we engage with these substances. 

As the state’s regulatory framework continues to evolve, it is evident that the road ahead will be filled with opportunities and challenges, as the entire country eyes lay on Colorado to set the tone for the future of legal, therapeutic psychedelic use.

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      Frequently Asked Questions

      1: What is Colorado’s approach to regulating psychedelics, and how does it differ from the approach in Oregon?

      Colorado has adopted a unique approach to regulating psychedelics, distinguishing itself from Oregon’s regulated model. 

      Colorado has established two parallel frameworks: one focused on regulation, creating a structured framework for licensed facilities and service providers, and the other on personal use or decriminalization. This dual approach contrasts with Oregon’s more singular regulated model for psilocybin.

      2: What is the role of the advisory board in Colorado’s regulatory framework for psychedelics?

      The advisory board in Colorado plays a crucial role in the regulatory framework for psychedelics. Comprising representatives from various backgrounds and collaborating with different departments–

      –such as the Department of Revenue and the Department of Public Health and Environment, the advisory board is responsible for recommending policies and rules. 

      These recommendations undergo a rule-making process, setting the stage for the issuance of licenses to psychedelic healing centers and facilitators.

      3: What are some challenges and criticisms faced by Colorado in its journey to regulate psychedelics?

      Colorado’s journey to regulate psychedelics has faced challenges and criticisms. Some argue that the regulated model is moving too quickly without sufficient community research and outreach. 

      Indigenous voices, particularly regarding the religious use of peyote, have expressed concerns about potential exclusion from the decision-making process. 

      There are also concerns about the interaction between the regulated model and personal use or decriminalization, questioning whether it offers adequate safeguards.

      4: What is Colorado’s personal use or decriminalization model, and how does it differ from the regulated model?

      In addition to the regulated model, Colorado has implemented a personal use or decriminalization model. This model decriminalizes the possession and use of various natural psychedelics, including DMT, mescaline, ibogaine, psilocybin, and psilocin. 

      Unlike the regulated model, there is no provision for a consumer or commercial model for accessing psilocybin in this approach. It allows for the gifting of natural medicines, primarily focused on psilocybin-containing mushrooms, to individuals aged 21 and older.

      5: What challenges and responsibilities does Colorado face in building a safe psychedelic ecosystem?

      Colorado faces challenges in establishing a safe psychedelic ecosystem, particularly in terms of support services and oversight. 

      The state envisions involving nurse practitioners or medical directors in the screening and support process to ensure the safety of individuals exploring psychedelic experiences. 

      However, there is ambiguity surrounding what constitutes bona fide harm reduction or support services, raising questions about qualifications and ethical standards. 

      Balancing the regulatory and community-driven models poses challenges in creating a comprehensive and safe environment for those seeking psychedelic experiences.

      Looking for a professionally supported in-person psychedelic experience?

      Take the first step and book a consultation call with us today. We'll walk you through every step of the process after getting to know you and your unique situation.

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      At Psychedelic Passage, we offer professional 1-on-1 guidance and companionship on your journey of healing. We simply can't sit back and let Americans continue to sit in silent suffering trying to battle mental health issues within a broken health care system, all while knowing that effective alternatives exist. We stand for the sacred, at-home, ceremonial use of psychedelics for consciousness exploration, which we believe to be a fundamental human right.

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