February 20, 2024 10:26 am
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Colorado Voters, by a Slim Margin, Voted to Legalize Psychedelic Drugs

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Armand Jackson

On Election Day, Colorado voters headed to the polls to vote on a number of ballot initiatives with their respective propositions. One of those initiatives was Proposition 122, or the “Natural Medicine Health Act of 2022,” which aimed to decriminalize the personal use and possession of psychedelics that are derived from certain plants and fungi and require the state to establish regulated medical research facilities and systems for accessing psychedelics by those 21 years of age or older. It would still be illegal to sell psychedelics with the only exception being that it is sold in a licensed “healing center,” where people could ingest the substances under the supervision of trained facilitators.

The proposition passed, but by a small margin since voters were very divided on the subject. Regardless, its passage makes Colorado the second state after Oregon to legalize the use of certain psychedelic substances which are illegal under federal law. These two states as well as Hawaii, Connecticut, Maryland, Texas, Utah and Oklahoma have approved allocating resources towards studying the potential benefits of medical use of psychedelics such as treating conditions ranging from PTSD to quitting smoking. But they are also assessing the potential risks of the substances on those with certain mental health conditions. 

Proponents of the Colorado ballot initiative stated that natural plant based psychedelics have potential mental health benefits as alternative treatments for conditions such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD. Supporters also argued that the state’s current approach to mental health has failed in that it wastes taxpayers money by penalizing and jailing people for the non-violent offense of using naturally occurring substances. Opponents of the measure referenced that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved psychedelics as medicine. 

They stated that this move would jeopardize public safety by sending the wrong message to children and adults that using the substances is healthy. There are some who believe this legislative push is ultimately nothing more than a profit seeking motive of those who want to eventually make a commercialized business around the substances. Even with the passage of the Colorado measure, the slim majority in favor of it makes things unclear on how successful psychedelic drugs will be in garnering wide scale approval throughout the country like cannabis has in recent years.