State-Legal Psychedelics Therapy Programs have Key Similarities, Differences

Much like the cannabis industry, there is no standard set for what a legal psychedelics programs looks like.

Two states have legalized psilocybin, and other states (such as Michigan) have been making noise about being next. But as we saw with state-by-state cannabis legalization, there’s no uniform model yet for how to set up the systems and roll them out.

Oregon voters passed the 2020 Oregon Ballot Measure 109, making it the first state to both decriminalize psilocybin and legalize it for therapeutic use. Colorado, which was the first state to decriminalize psilocybin in 2019, legalized psychedelics-based therapy via Colorado Proposition 122 last month.

Here’s a closer look at the programs in Colorado and Oregon.


  • The Oregon Psilocybin Services (OPS) Section will begin accepting applications for facility licenses on Jan. 2, 2023, just days after rule-making is slated to be completed – and about two years from when it was approved by voters. Until then, the OPS is in a development period, working to build a comprehensive regulatory framework for psilocybin services to license tracking and compliance case management system, securing and customizing a product tracking system, and more.
  • Colorado also has roughly two years to get its act together. The state must issue rules for drug testing standards, license requirements, and health and safety warnings by Jan. 1, 2024, and the state must begin accepting applications for licensed facilities to administer psilocybin by Sept. 30, 2024.
  • Colorado’s Proposition 122 legalizes psilocybin and psilocin, but the state reserved the option to legalize DMT, ibogaine, and mescaline in 2026. The Oregon measure covers just psilocybin-producing fungi and mixtures or substances containing a detectable amount of psilocybin.


Many of the differences start with the semantics:

  • Colorado establishes a “healing center” where psilocybin can purchased and used under the care of a licensed facilitator. Oregon establishes a “psilocybin service center” with a licensed facilitator.
  • Colorado’s psilocybin user would be called a “participant.” Oregon’s would be called a “client.”

But there are several more substances differences as well:

  • Colorado allows consumption of “natural medicines” (which only includes psilocybin right now) “in any form.” Oregon allows the consumption of psilocybe cubensis only, such as extracted psilocybin in edible products.
  • Anyone with a drug conviction related to psychedelics for personal use as defined in the Colorado proposition can have that record retroactively sealed for no cost. Oregon on the other hand allows the licensing by an applicant for people convicted of manufacturing psilocybin or marijuana for personal use, but there is no expungement or sealed record clause. The Oregon Psilocybin Advisory Board is tasked with meeting with the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Oregon to discuss potential federal enforcement policies regarding psilocybin in Oregon after the expiration of the two-year program development period.
  • The Colorado proposition created the Natural Medicine Advisory Board within the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) to advise the department on implementing the natural medicine access program. DORA is an agency under the executive branch of Colorado’s state government charged with managing licensing and registration for multiple professions and businesses, implementing balanced regulation for Colorado industries, and protecting consumers. The Oregon Psilocybin Services is a new section housed within the Oregon Health Authority Public Health Division’s Center for Health Protection (CHP). CHP houses programs that oversee health care facilities and licensing, and environmental health and regulation.
  • In Colorado, local governments cannot ban licensed facilities, but they can regulate their operations. They also can’t make up and enforce their own ordinances, rules, or resolutions related to the facility operations. In 23 of Oregon’s 36 counties and 111 of its 241 cities, voters decided Nov. 8 to opt out of the state psilocybin program or impose two-year pauses on approvals under terms of the 2020 ballot measure.

Dave Hodes

David Hodes is a business journalist based in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area. He has contributed feature articles to several cannabis and psychedelics publications, as well as general business/lifestyle publications, on a variety of topics. Hodes was selected as 2018 Journalist of the Year by Americans for Safe Access. He is a member of the National Press Club, and the deputy booking agent for the National Press Club Headliners Committee.

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