Colorado voters approved a ballot initiative to decriminalize hallucinogenic mushrooms on Tuesday, making Colorado the second U.S. state — after Oregon — "to establish a regulated system for substances like psilocybin and psilocin," according to AP. (Oregon legalized psilocybin in 2020.)
Known as the "Natural Medicine Health Act," the initiative will allow healing centers to use psilocybin to treat adults 21 and older who have mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD. The measure will also allow people to "grow, possess and share" magic mushrooms, but selling them even for personal use will remain illegal.
The initiative, which would take effect in 2024, also will allow an advisory board to add other plant-based psychedelic drugs to the program in 2026.
Supporters argued that the state's current approach to mental health has failed and that naturally occurring psychedelics, which have been used for hundreds of years, can treat depression, PTSD, anxiety, addiction and other conditions. They also said jailing people for the non-violent offense of using naturally occurring substances costs taxpayers money.
Critics warned that the Food and Drug Administration has not approved the substances as medicine. They also argued that allowing "healing centers" to operate, and allowing private personal use of the drugs, would jeopardize public safety and send the wrong message to kids and adults alike that the substances are healthy.
Under the measure, the psychedelics that would be decriminalized are listed as schedule 1 controlled substances under state and federal law and are defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use with a high potential for abuse.
Even so, the FDA has designated psilocybin a "breakthrough therapy" to treat major depressive disorder. The designation can expedite research, development and review of a drug if it might offer substantial improvements over existing treatments.