Colorado governor supports pardons for psychedelic drug crimes
Colorado's governor said Wednesday he would issue pardons for all criminal convictions related to psychedelic drugs such as "magic mushrooms."
Why it matters: The remarks at the Psychedelic Science conference in Denver show how Gov. Jared Polis is fully embracing the state's legalization of psychedelics despite the 2022 ballot measures' narrow passage and federal opposition.
- He called on the state Legislature to give him authority to issue mass pardons for prior psychedelic convictions, similar to the thousands he issued for marijuana possession.
What he's saying: "So anybody who has something on their criminal record that is now legal can have that expunged and doesn't hold them back from future employment opportunities," he said to cheers from the thousands attending the conference.
The intrigue: In his remarks, Polis also said he wants insurance companies, including federal Medicare and Medicaid, to be required to cover the cost of treatments using psychedelics.
- "It is still ridiculous that in this day and age somebody suffering from anxiety, depression, PTSD can get medical coverage for very costly prescription drugs but cannot get coverage for a treatment in a healing center that will address some of the underlying causes of the issue," he said.
Be smart: The ballot measure decriminalized the possession, cultivation and sharing of psychedelics and hallucinogens, such as psilocybin, ibogaine, mescaline and DMT, for people 21 and older
Between the lines: Polis was noticeably muted on the issue ahead of the 2022 vote, but now he's touting the state's legalization, calling it a "thoughtful, common sense approach."
- His support is "values-based," he told the conference, saying everyone should have "bodily autonomy and your choice on what to do."
- The same applies to his opposition to vaccine mandates and support for abortion rights.
What to watch: Polis appointed an advisory panel to draft regulations for legalized psychedelics and the creation of licensed healing centers for supervised use.
- The license applications for healing centers are expected to be available by December 2024.
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