Colorado Green Lights Certain Psychedelics with a Slim Victory

The measure allows for the creation of "healing centers" with psychedelic treatments.

Voters in Colorado passed a ballot initiative that would permit adults 21 and older to possess certain psychedelics and create a framework for state-licensed psilocybin “healing centers.”

With 88% of the vote counted, Proposition 122 garnered 51.4% of the votes, a margin it had maintained throughout Wednesday.

The narrow outcome was cheered by many activists and the psychedelics industry, as Colorado follows Oregon in opening access to natural medicines.

Josh Kappel, co-founder of national cannabis law firm Vicente Sederberg and chair of the campaign committee driving the effort, told Green Market Report that he believes the framework behind the measure to be well-thought out, especially since many of the details will be hashed out among stakeholders during the incoming 18-month implementation process.

“We want to make sure that it’s an effective system — that we’re not overly corporatizing or monopolizing this industry instead of building it on shared values of the community,” he said.

Denver was the first city in the state to signal openness to change when it modified the way law enforcement approached psilocybin consumption and personal possession in 2019. Local law enforcement still seizes mushrooms during criminal investigations, according to Colorado Public Radio, which found that police have averaged about 59 arrests per year since 2017.

Protecting people from prosecution for nonviolent offenses is a bottom-line sentiment widely used to garner support for the issue.

Supporters also argue that legalizing magic mushrooms would make access and consumption safer, particularly in a controlled environment and under the watch of a caretaker.

Kappel noted that psychedelics does not entail a massive supply side the way the marijuana does, which he says would prevent many of the market woes seen in the cannabis industry. The measure does not allow people to buy approved psychedelics over the counter.

Psychedelics have not been a significant player in the U.S. market to date, with only 3.3% of surveyed respondents saying they have used magic mushrooms in the past six months, according to a new report from Brightfield Group.

“(The Colorado market is) really going to be focused on facilitators. That’s where the majority of the economic exchange will be,” Kappel said. “Someone who’s engaging in psilocybin services, they’re going to be paying a facilitator, a professional to sit with them for six hours, 12 hours, 48 hours – it really just depends.”

He added, “This is a type of psychotherapy, a type of healing. It’s not a CPG market.”

Adam Jackson

Adam Jackson covers the cannabis industry for The Green Market Report. He previously covered the Missouri statehouse for The Columbia Missourian and has written for The Missouri Independent. He most recently covered retail, restaurants, and other consumer companies for Bloomberg Business News. You can find him on Twitter @adam_sjackson and email him at adam.jackson@crain.com.


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