By LINDSEY TOOMER
Now that Colorado voters have passed the Natural Medicine Health Act, the state has several steps to take before Colorado actually sees a regulated industry for psychedelic mushrooms.
The measure allows licensed “healing centers” to provide access to psilocybin and psilocyn, the psychoactive compounds found in many species of mushrooms, for therapeutic purposes. It also decriminalizes “personal use” of substances, allowing people to possess and grow psychedelic mushrooms in their homes.
The first step in the route is to develop an advisory board, which will include Governor Jared Polis appointees to help the Department of Regulatory Agencies implement the new program.
According to the text of the law, the council will consist of 15 members: at least seven should have expertise and experience in subjects including, but not limited to, therapy and research in natural medicine, emergency medical services , health care insurance and policy, or harm reduction. At least eight members should have experience with indigenous religious and traditional uses of natural medicines, issues affecting veterans, disparities in health care access, or criminal justice reform in Colorado.
“We will follow the will of voters and appoint a 15-member advisory council to oversee the regulatory process around this new voter-approved measure,” Melissa Dworkin, a spokeswoman for the governor’s office, said in an email.
Josh Kappel, an attorney who chaired the Natural Medicine Colorado campaign committee and helped draft Proposition 122, said he hoped the governor would appoint a council that included all relevant stakeholders. He said the council’s original purpose was to provide DORA with recommendations on program implementation.
“We are excited to work with all relevant stakeholders and the state government to implement Prop 122 in a safe, responsible and fair manner that provides access to this much-needed tool to address the health crisis. mental health of our state,” Kappel said.
After working with DORA to develop the program, the board will make annual recommendations regarding public health approaches to natural medicine, educational campaigns, efficacy and regulatory research, training programs, equitable access and culturally responsible, as well as data collection and reporting. Kappel added that the council will likely create regular reports analyzing the effectiveness of the program.
Supporters of the campaign measure point to research showing that psychedelics can be effective in treating depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health conditions. The federal Food and Drug Administration has designated psilocybin as a “breakthrough therapy” for the treatment of major depressive disorder.
Coloradans can start applying for center licenses in September 2024
Ben Unger, who works with New Approach, an organization involved in passing both Oregon’s Measure 109 and Colorado’s Proposition 122, said in an email that his greatest hope for the council advisory is that “it is filled with experts who can guide a regulatory process that maximizes safety and promotes equitable access for all who can benefit.
For initial appointments to be made by January 31, 2023, seven members will be appointed for two-year terms while eight will be appointed for four-year terms. After this initial council, all members will be appointed for a four-year term and may serve two consecutive terms.
After the appointees are named, the board will begin an 18-month rulemaking process to develop regulations regarding facilitator licensing, training and the operation of healing centers, Kappel said. He said Natural Medicine Colorado will continue to be a resource to the state as it seeks to implement Proposition 122 in a “responsible, fair and safe” manner.
“We hope we can work with everyone – government stakeholders, even those who oppose us – to help create a program that is both safe, but also provides mental health treatment and options. that Coloradans expect after passing Proposition 122,” Kappel said.
Unger noted that the wording of the proposal indicates that Coloradans can begin applying for healing center licenses in September 2024, which means licensed therapy services would likely begin six or seven months later. Over the next year or so, he said interested stakeholders should keep their eyes peeled as regulations for entertainers and safety rules for patrons are developed.
“It is reasonable to expect that services could begin in the summer of 2025,” Unger said in an email. “It is important for the state to work with experts to develop processes that promote safety while protecting access for those who may benefit from it.”
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