Jun 22, 2023 - News

Colorado is far from commercializing psychedelics despite new law decriminalizing them

Elke Carre wears stickers in support of an initiative that would decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms at a 2019 election watch party for Decriminalize Denver. Photo: Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images

Psychedelics in Colorado may be decriminalized, but unlike marijuana, commercial sales aren't likely any time soon.

Details: Attorney Joshua Kappel, who co-authored the bill decriminalizing them, tells us a commercial market might be something that could be explored once more studies are completed on its therapeutic use, but that is still some years away.

Driving the news: Kappel spoke to us Wednesday at the Psychedelic Science 2023 conference, which is expected to bring more than 10,000 people to the Denver Convention Center, putting the state in the spotlight of a growing industry.

What they're saying: "I think it might make sense from a policy standpoint to create some sort of market where people can have safe, tested products for microdoses or treat migraines," Kappel tells us.

Catch up quick: Colorado's law creates a state-regulated system for supervised use by adults of natural psychedelics like magic mushrooms.

  • It will establish licensed facilities called healing centers for people to use them in primarily therapeutic ways, like treating illnesses like PTSD.

Yes, but: The bill doesn't allow sales of the drug, only for adults to share them.

Between the lines: "It's really important to emphasize that this is completely different from cannabis," Natasia Poinsatte, director at Healing Advocacy Fund Colorado, said during a conference panel.

  • Poinsatte, whose nonprofit is working with Colorado state regulators to implement the new law, said research showed marijuana users often use daily, while psilocybin use is far less frequent, like once or twice a year.

Of note: Poinsatte said costs associated with therapy means there will be money barriers for businesses, and she has concerns about state regulations adding red tape.

  • Single sessions of "high-dose psilocybin" therapy cost about $3,500 in Oregon, another state allowing psychedelics for medicinal use, Josh Hardman, founder and editor of a newsletter called Psychedelic Alpha, tells us.
  • Oregon issued its first license for a psilocybin treatment center last month.

The intrigue: Protik Basu, managing partner at Helena, an investment company supporting the nonprofit that organized the conference, said during a panel any treatment options involving psychedelics should be equitable.

  • He noted it's vital for the industry — if it extends to a commercial space — to ensure it is accessible to as many people as possible from the start.

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