Updated: Nov 9
This article aims to provide factual information and an array of perspectives from multiple parties to act as a unifying and neutral voice on the matter. While we all have our own biases, NANO stands as a company that serves as a source of empowerment and unity for humankind. As always, this article is for informational and educational purposes only, and we suggest that you continue to do your own research, seek multiple perspectives, and trust your intuition.
This November Coloradans can expect to see Initiative 58 on their voter ballots, which is also known as the Natural Medicine Health Act (NMHA). If passed, this initiative would legalize psilocybin and psilocin, the hallucinogenic compounds found in certain strains of mushrooms.
While Denver decriminalized psilocybin in 2019, advocates and many other citizens see widespread value in full legalization. Some Coloradans agree with the initiative but still feel that there’s more happening behind the scenes than we are being led to believe while some folks disagree with the initiative completely. Despite the mixed feelings out there regarding this initiative, this is a landmark decision that has the potential to be viewed from many perspectives.
If passed, the initiative would aim to create a regulated and legal market for psilocybin making Colorado the second state to do so, following the state of Oregon that legalized psilocybin mushrooms in 2020. Like the Cannabis industry, no one under the age of 21 would be able to purchase the natural medicinal substances, and adults 21 and over would have to purchase and consume mushrooms at a Healing Center licensed by the state. It moves the focus away from Denver and forces the issue to become a statewide regulation, also similar to cannabis, implying control factors for these businesses that give a lot of power to the government and corporations. Cultivation, possession, administering or facilitating the dosage and use, will all be on one site. There are clauses in the initiative claiming to keep costs down for independent operators of Healing Centers to get licensed, and another keeping one entity from owning more than 5 sites. Education would be mandatory with the services offered and records kept strictly confidential. Nonetheless, there are so many vagaries about future policies and developing an advisory board.
The NMHA would also decriminalize the personal use of psychedelics like dimethyltryptamine (DMT), ibogaine, mescaline (excluding peyote), and psilocin for those over 21 in the state of Colorado. Why isn’t decriminalization enough? We could be seeing other states pushing for this, instead, we see a cultural shift in certain states where citizens value plant-based wellness solutions. But the reasoning goes far beyond a cultural appreciation of the substances.
Proponents and advocates of this initiative mention that many benefits could come from not just decriminalization, but full legalization. Here’s what they’re saying…
- Safe Access. Access for Coloradans to have safe, legal access to natural alternative medicine that could potentially provide more treatment options for a variety of different ailments, with a specific focus on improving mental health.
- Economic Value. More taxpayer money would be saved and could be put towards other matters instead of pouring tax dollars into the costs of incarcerating individuals for non-violent petty crimes. There could also potentially be many new jobs created.
- Honoring Natural Medicine & Culture. A large grassroots movement has been in place for decades urging us to keep in mind that natural medicine has been a part of humanity since the dawn of time and is to be respected and honored. Indigenous medicine, as implied, grows naturally and is a part of our Earth and our ecosystems. A variety of people from different backgrounds and cultures globally have utilized and cultivated a synergistic relationship with natural medicine as an inherent part of their traditional values and life. Proponents of the initiative see this as a step forward in creating a positive wave of change that empowers people to explore new possibilities for their health.
In contrast, there are also a variety of concerns being brought to the surface, including how the legalization of a psychoactive substance can influence youth’s perspectives. Skeptics are also concerned about how to minimize the impact or negative outcomes these substances can have in various circumstances. Some argue that this isn’t a valid argument against legalization because people can access the substances regardless and that it is our responsibility as citizens, adults, and parents to become educated and speak with our youth about these topics. Advocates mention that regulating the substance and providing education would make it safer and that these medicines are not to be made available, used, or advertised in various public places.
Still, other industry insiders are voting against this initiative because they disagree with how it’s being brought about and how it’s being represented to Colorado citizens. There is suspicion regarding the true motives behind the organizations that have helped fund this initiative. Matthew Duffy, the co-founder of the Denver-based nonprofit SPORE (the Society for Psychedelic Outreach Reform and Education), is voting against this measure and encouraging Coloradans to do the same. In a recent article featured in The Denver Post, he states,
“While this may sound like a good thing to people who want to see increased access to psychedelics, this initiative is designed for corporate control, largely restricting access to corporate-owned healing centers.”
Having access to multiple perspectives from industry insiders gives us the ability as citizens to employ critical thinking when it comes to decisions that will affect our community. As a collective, it's important to consider what factors may play into the way politics take place and how we can find common ground. Duffy also brings up points regarding whom the initiative was primarily funded by.
“The NMHA is largely being pushed forward by an out-of-state PAC called New Approach — a lobbying group representing corporate interests vying to be the gatekeepers of psychedelic medicine. New Approach and the NMHA campaign are misleading Coloradans. The so-called ‘progress’ they promise will largely serve to advance an agenda of commodification and corporate control — not unlike what happened with cannabis in Colorado.” Even so, others both inside and outside of the industry wonder how citizens will be granted access to the legal use of psychedelics without governments and corporations becoming involve.
Responding to Critics of the NMHA, Sean McAllister, an attorney who has been a leader in the emerging industries of cannabis, hemp, and psychedelic medicines recently released an article substantiating the important points that have been ignored by those opposed to the initiative. Below is an excerpt from his latest piece on this matter -
“Coloradans should have the right to heal with natural medicines; we are in a mental health crisis in the state. The initiative was developed throughout 2021, in collaboration with the same on-the-ground activists who pushed through Denver’s decriminalization of psilocybin, along with several other community stakeholders that included BIPOC voices. In response to months of community feedback, the initiative was improved over time to include numerous social justice considerations and sidebars. These include:
No state agency can regulate the private personal possession, home cultivation, sharing, or use of these natural medicines for adults over 21.
Communal healing will be immediately decriminalized by this measure. This measure protects the work of traditional medicine people and shamans from criminal prosecution and is not subject to state licensure or business regulation since there are no sales of natural psychedelic medicines.
The limit in terms of quantity is a personal possession amount, including an amount necessary to share with other adults. Private sales will remain illegal in Colorado.
NMHA limits the number of licenses per company to five, ensuring there will not be any corporate takeovers or monopolies in Colorado on treatment centers, encouraging locally owned and operated clinics.
NMHA requires that the state-licensed facilities provide sliding-scale fees to ensure access to these medicines in a regulated environment by low-income people.
NMHA also requires that licensure as a facilitator under the act can’t be so expensive or onerous as to exclude low-income people from licensure.
The measure creates an access fund to subsidize access for low-income people and Indigenous people at licensed facilities.
The measure creates an advisory board with mandatory BIPOC representation and gives the advisory board veto power over whether the state moves forward with regulation beyond psilocybin in 2026.
NMHA makes clear that no one can lose their children in a custody dispute, or have their children taken away from them as part of a social services case, merely for the possession or use of natural medicines.
NMHA creates mandatory record sealing for any prior offense that is now legalized under the measure. The measure also is retroactive, meaning any existing cases have to be dismissed.
NMHA says that possession of natural medicines can’t form the basis of reasonable suspicion or probable cause for a search.”
Education and research remain at the forefront of the psychedelic movement and more possibilities are being openly discussed and set into motion as we gain deeper insight into our humanity. Science is continuing to explore the potential of psychedelic medicines, and this is only the beginning. There is significant room for innovation in this field of psilocybin dosing and conditions for therapeutic use, so clinical trials and data are the precursors to new products being developed and delivered that could revolutionize what micro-dosing looks like and its efficacy. Regardless of our backgrounds or political affiliation, we must find ways to unite and be the change we wish to see.
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