Colorado Psilocybin

On November 8, 2022, 53% of Colorado voters voted for Colorado to became the second state in the United States to legalize the use of psilocybin, a psychedelic compound found in “magic mushrooms.” The state passed Proposition 122, also known as the Natural Medicine Health Act of 2022, which decriminalizes the possession of and legalizes limited use of psychedelic mushrooms and other plant- and fungi-derived psychedelic drugs for those 21 years of age or older.

 

This initiative comes as scientific research has shown the potential medical benefits of psilocybin in treating mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The initiative establishes a “Natural Medicine Advisory Board” to evaluate ongoing research into psychedelic drugs and their potential health benefits and make recommendations to the legislature and other state entities. By 2024, the measure will allow the supervised use of psilocybin and psilocin, two drugs found in psychedelic mushrooms, at state-regulated “healing centers.”

 

While the passage of Proposition 122 marks a significant step forward for advocates of natural medicine and psychedelic therapy, it may also raise concerns for employers. The proposition states that employers are not required to permit or accommodate the use, possession, transfer, display, transportation, or growing of natural medicines in the workplace. This means that employers can continue to enforce zero-tolerance policies regarding the use of psychedelics, just as they do with marijuana, which is legal in Colorado but not permitted in the workplace.

 

The passage of Proposition 122 is a positive development for those who believe that psychedelic drugs can be used safely and effectively to treat a range of mental health conditions. The establishment of a Natural Medicine Advisory Board and the regulation of “healing centers” that provide supervised psilocybin use will help to ensure that these treatments are administered in a safe and responsible manner. However, it remains to be seen how employers will react to the legalization of psilocybin and whether they will revise their drug testing and drug-free workplace policies in response.

 

By January 31, 2023, the Governor of Colorado must appoint 15 members to the Natural Medicine Advisory Board. The Board will advise the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) on implementing the Natural Medicine Health Act (NMHA) program. Every year, starting from September 30, 2023, the Board must make recommendations to DORA on various aspects related to natural medicine, including product safety, harm reduction, and regulations for facilitators. By January 1, 2024, DORA must establish the qualifications, education, and training requirements that facilitators must meet before providing natural medicine services to participants. By September 30, 2024, DORA must adopt rules to implement the NMHA program and begin accepting applications for licensure of facilitators, healing centers, entities to test natural medicines, and any categories of licensure determined by DORA. DORA must decide on licensure applications within 60 days of receiving them. From the launch of the NMHA program until June 1, 2026, the only natural medicines allowed are psilocybin and psilocyn. After June 1, 2026, DORA may add other types of natural medicines to the program based on the Board’s recommendations, such as dimethyltryptamine, Ibogaine, and Mescaline (excluding peyote).