On April 27, legislation that would regulate Colorado’s legal psychedelics framework will get its first hearing in the House. If implemented, Senate Bill 23-290 will replace many original provisions in the state’s historic Proposition 122, with what so far amounts to an overall more restrictive version. SB 23-290 was in the House Finance Committee at publication time.
The Colorado ballot measure Prop 122, also known as the Natural Medicine Health Act (NHMA), was approved by voters in November 2022 and subsequently signed by Governor Jared Polis. It authorized psilocybin “healing centers” and legalized personal possession of psilocybin, psilocyn, ibogaine, DMT and mescaline not derived from peyote.
The NMHA outlines its own plan for establishing a regulatory framework, including the creation of an advisory board to make recommendations to the state as the landscape of psychedelic treatment continued to develop.
But on April 17, after months of hinting at changes to the NMHA with no transparency as to what that might mean, Colorado Senate President Steve Fenberg (D) introduced a separate amendment proposing to regulate the Act—an amendment several times longer than the Act itself, with several substantial changes. The Senate advanced SB23-290 on April 25, the latest version of which is sponsored by Representative Judith Amabile (D).
Possession of synthetic solvents that could be considered “hazardous materials” would be a felony.
If passed, the legislation would change who’s allowed to earn money for psychedelic services. In Fenberg’s proposed amendment, community harm reduction facilitators could no longer be legally compensated for their time and expertise, nor reimbursed—even in the form of non-legal tender like food or labor. Only those working at state-regulated services could be compensated. In the version advanced by the Senate, community facilitators can be compensated for their services, but cannot advertise them.
“That seems counterproductive,” Mason Marks, cofounder of the Project on Psychedelics Law and Regulation, told Filter. “If you have someone offering harm reduction services, I would think it’s in everyone’s best interests to know about that … there are practical safety and public health concerns with the limitations being imposed.”
Despite its name, the NMHA isn’t necessarily exclusive to “natural” versions of the substances to which it pertains, and leaves room for synthetic versions of those substances, too. The Senate bill would explicitly narrow the definition to non-synthetic versions. Notably, possession of any synthetic solvents that could be considered “hazardous materials” would be criminalized as a felony.
For both better and worse, the NMHA’s current language is open-ended at many key junctures.
The NMHA stipulates that DMT, mescaline and ibogaine could be similarly permitted for supervised use after June 1, 2026. Under the Senate bill, only the first two would be subject to that timeline, while ibogaine therapy could commence at any time.
For both better and worse, NMHA’s current language is open-ended at many key junctures, and the crux of the proposed changes is removing a lot of that ambiguity.
“I think many people did envision a wide variety of different healing centers, [including] some that look like spiritual ceremonies or even churches,” Marks said. “What does [an advertising ban] mean for a church? Are they not allowed to publicly speak about their practices and services? It looks like the regulated side is becoming less hospitable for religious communities.”
Photograph via Washington Senate Democrats