The Colorado Senate approved a bill to regulate psychedelic substances, in line with a voter-endorsed initiative. The legislation aims to establish guidelines for legal psychedelic use in authorized therapeutic centers under trained professionals’ supervision.
Additionally, the bill sets licensing standards for facilitators and businesses involved in producing, testing, storing, distributing, and transporting natural medicine products.
The measure passed during a voice vote after amendments in its second reading on Monday. The bill passed on a 25-10 vote on Tuesday during the third reading. The House of Representatives will now review the proposal.
A new Division of Natural Medicine would be established within the sate’s Department of Revenue to manage the therapy program and issue licenses for cultivators, manufacturers, testing facilities, and therapeutic centers.
The legislation would also create a Natural Medicine Advisory Board responsible for examining natural medicine issues and providing recommendations to relevant authorities.
Individuals under 21 who knowingly possess or consume natural medicine products face a fine of up to $100 and up to four hours of substance use education or counseling. Public consumption of natural medicine is also penalized.
Synthetic psychedelics are prohibited, and possession of such substances along with dangerous materials like solvents constitutes a class 2 felony.
The legislation would maintain the voter-backed ballot measure’s policy offering protections for personal possession of psilocybin, ibogaine, mescaline, and DMT for adults 21 and older, while not providing a defense against charges involving operating vehicles or machinery under the influence.
Individuals 21 or older also could grow natural psychedelics for personal use in an enclosed area at their residence, with a maximum cultivation area of 12 by 12 feet, unless local policy allows for larger areas. A $1,000 fine would apply to those exceeding the specified limits.
Initially, only psilocybin and psilocyn would be allowed at therapeutic centers, but regulators could add more psychedelic substances. The bill also clarifies that individuals can receive payment for harm reduction or support services related to psychedelic use.
A working group for federally recognized American tribes and Indigenous communities would be established within the Department of Regulatory Agencies to address potential unintended consequences of the reform, particularly concerning the commercialization of psychedelics and religious or spiritual exploitation of native populations.
The bill would also allow people to file motions to seal conviction records related to natural medicine and enable licensed psychedelic enterprises to deduct expenses from state taxes, partially addressing the federal 280E provision.
Regulators would have until Dec. 31, 2024, to begin accepting and reviewing license applications, an extension from the previous Sept. 30, 2024 deadline.
Although the proposed regulations have drawn varied responses from advocates and stakeholders, Senate President Steve Fenberg stressed the importance of responsibly enacting the voter-endorsed initiative, saying, “This is something that most states have not ventured to do. It’s important that we get it right.”