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Second Psychedelics Ballot Proposal Unveiled in Colorado

Voters in Colorado could see two separate psychedelics decriminalization measures in this year’s election after activists submitted a new ballot proposal to state officials last week. The group Decriminalize Nature, which was organized on Monday, announced that it had submitted a Colorado ballot proposal for decriminalizing most natural psychedelic plants. The announcement came just weeks after an identical campaign was launched by a national group. 

Melanie Rose Rodgers (organizers of Decriminalize Natural) stated in a press statement that the ballot proposal would change Colorado state law to allow adults to possess and use entheogenic plants, and fungi. Proposals would decriminalize the facilitation of the use natural psychedelics, such as support services such as supervision, guidance, and support.

This measure does not regulate psychedelic drug production or sale. According to organizers, establishing decriminalization would first preserve the right to access psychedelic drug for all and shield legacy and indigenous practitioners from regulations that could result from commercial legalization.

“Without decriminalization and the security it allows for affected communities to more effectively organize, regulatory models will make it difficult for the most disadvantaged groups of our population to continue to access the natural medicines they safely use to heal,” Foerster said in Monday’s announcement. “To address this we are advocating for a simple change to existing laws around these controlled substances.”

Denver, Colorado became the United States’ first to make psilocybin illegal in 2019, Other cities, including Seattle, Washington D.C., and Oakland have since passed comprehensive decriminalization laws for psychedelic substances. Oregon voters also approved last year a referendum to allow the legalization of therapeutic use.

New Colorado ballot proposals would make it illegal to possess, cultivate, or sell psilocin and ibogaine. While adults would be allowed in Colorado to possess, cultivate, and sell natural psychedelics for personal use, selling them would still be prohibited.

“We drafted this initiative to ensure that full decriminalization is on the table,” Foerster told Westword. “The precedent on the grassroots level right now is to fully decriminalize first. If you do both [decrim and legalizing medical access] at the same time, you are prioritizing legalization.”

National Group files first decriminalization proposal for Colorado

One national group presented separate ballot plans to repeal Colorado’s criminalization of psychedelics. New Approach PAC (a Washington, D.C.,-based political organization committee) filed the proposals for decriminalization with the State Department on December 3.

DMT and mescaline, which excludes peyote, would be decriminalized in the first proposal. New Approach PAC’s measure would require the governor to appoint a Natural Medicine Advisory Board that would oversee the implementation of decriminalization. To supply and help clients who use psychedelic substances, healing centers would be licensed by the state.

The second measure is similar to the first, but would decriminalize only psilocybin and psilocin, the psychedelic compounds found in “magic mushrooms.” Under the proposal, the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies would implement decriminalization in a fashion similar to the one outlined in the first initiative. 

“Our goal is to make the healing benefits of these natural medicines available to people they can help, including veterans with PTSD, survivors of domestic or sexual abuse, people with treatment-resistant depression and others for whom our typical mental-health treatments just aren’t working,” Ben Unger, psychedelic program director for New Approach PAC, told WestwordIn December

Some psychedelic activists from Colorado have supported the proposals of the national group. Kevin Matthews, the leader of the group that campaigned for Denver’s psychedelics decriminalization measure, is now lobbying for the statewide effort advanced by the national group.

“We’re glad to have New Approach as a partner who can help us bring this level of change to the entire state, because we’re going to create more opportunities for so many people to receive the help they need to deal with mental health conditions that are otherwise devastating,” Matthews said. “Creating new opportunities for people to heal is what drives us, and we look forward to engaging with Colorado residents on this issue.”

New Approach PAC made several revisions to decriminalization plans since the original filing of the proposal, such as the elimination of the possession limit for natural psychedelic drugs. It remains to be determined which measure the group will ultimately decide to take.

“They have four drafts right now that are going through the title board hearings,” Foerster noted. “We don’t know what’s going to be on the one that actually is set.”

Following a series meeting attended by Decriminalize Natur and other activist groups for psychedelics, the new proposal was created. Foerster stated that the proposal of one page is much more likely to be approved by the electorate.

“We’re confident that a short and simple revision of the Controlled Substances Act—one that makes the adult possession, use and facilitation of [outlawed] entheogens no longer a crime—is going to speak to voters over a complicated act that’s going to cost money to implement,” Foerster predicted.