Colorado Continues to Lead on Psychedelics, More States to Follow?

The midterms are over, and the results are in.

The majority of Colorado voters support legalizing psychedelics.

In fact, not only does the majority of Colorado support legalizing psychedelics, but across the country, a whopping 65% of Americans do as well! The question is: will other states follow suit?

Is this the beginning of a psychedelic revolution?

Proposition 122

On November 8th, 2022, Colorado became the second state in the USA to legalize psychedelics. In a 52% to 47% vote, Colorado citizens narrowly passed Proposition 122.

The proposition would make several changes to the state’s law governing the matter, including eliminating a felony penalty for possession of psilocybin mushrooms, allowing people with qualifying conditions to use psilocybin mushrooms without being arrested or charged with a crime, and allowing licensed professionals to administer certain psychedelic drugs in a clinical setting. It also allows adults over the age of 21 to use, grow, and share psilocybin and psilocin and three other psychedelic compounds — DMT, ibogaine, and mescaline. The law imposes several restrictions, including prohibitions on use in public, at school, or while driving.

Supporters argue that the state’s current approach to mental health has failed — many argue that favorable mental health outcomes have been demonstrated from psychedelic use. There is plenty anecdotal evidence, but current laws have prevented more research. US research lab Compass Pathways has managed to bring psychedelic testing to FDA clinical trials, but federal scheduling of psilocybin makes research incredibly difficult to complete.

Proposition 122 attempts to rectify that by establishing an advisory board and setting aside funds to further research psychedelic substances.

Psychedelics Across America

Indigenous people have used psychedelics for centuries. They were commonly used as part of spiritual rituals, and they were also used as mental health treatments. But in the mid-20th century, psychedelics were banned in the United States because politicians wanted to demonize anti-war efforts. Psychedelics are still illegal today, yet lawmakers have been trying to change that.

In 2020, Oregon became the first state to decriminalize psychedelics. More than 60 bills attempting to legalize or decriminalize psychedelics have been introduced around the country since then — including in Washington and New York — but most of them are stalled. Lawmakers in Missouri and Iowa have proposed legalization bills this year, while those in Kansas want to decriminalize possession. Bills decriminalizing possession have been introduced in 19 states, and more than a dozen have introduced legislation allowing the further study the health benefits of psilocybin.

Psychedelics Gaining Momentum In Research And Policy

In a time when mental health is such a hot-button issue, it’s no surprise that psychedelics have gained momentum as a potential treatment for depression and anxiety. In 2018, the Food and Drug Administration named psilocybin a “breakthrough therapy,” meaning drug development is expedited, as it may be considered more effective than existing treatments. Since then, research has ramped up. Numerous clinical trials are being conducted to assess the potential of psychedelics to be used in the treatment of depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, drug addiction, and eating disorders.

Hawaii’s state Senate cited the FDA designation in March after approving a bill to assemble a task force. The task force’s intent is to develop a long-term plan to make medical psilocybin available to adults over 21. Connecticut lawmakers also convened a group to study psilocybin last year, adjusting its state budget to fund psychedelic therapy programs.

The growing popularity of psychedelics in mental health treatment has been unfolding for years. Still, it’s only recently that we’ve seen the beginnings of what may be an unprecedented shift in public opinion.

The use of psychedelics for healing has always been controversial. Still, with ever-increasing evidence that these substances can change lives for the better, more people are coming out in support of their legalization.

Now it’s time for politicians and the government to make a tangible difference in the lives of millions by legalizing a potentially life-saving treatment.

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