Jun 26, 2023 - News

How psychedelic "healing centers" will work in Colorado

Illustration of an upward arrow made out of mushrooms.

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

From luxurious mountain retreats and tranquil spas to dedicated churches, virtual advisors, small studios and even boots-on-the-ground teams, it's becoming clearer how the "magic mushrooms" industry will take shape in Colorado.

Driving the news: Thousands descended on Denver last week for Psychedelic Science, dubbed the "largest psychedelic conference in history," where people came together to talk about the future of mental health.

State of play: Many people across the country — and around the world — are already experimenting with new models for the budding industry.

  • Lotus Entheogenic Church, in Oakland, California, is a non-denominational religious group that partners with harm-reduction nonprofits to offer psilocybin and support to people battling addiction on the streets. The goal is to make the substance more "accessible" to people with little means.
  • Tracy Stansbury, who works for the church, tells Axios Denver that she has seen "immediate results and transformation" when people open themselves up to plant medicine. "They wake up from the trauma they've experienced," she told us.

Zoom in: At the Pearl Psychedelic Institute — which looks like a small house in Waynesville, North Carolina — therapists work in paired teams, under the guidance of a medical doctor, to administer MDMA (commonly known as ecstasy or molly) during an eight-hour therapeutic session.

  • The session is supplemented with separate, unmedicated integrative therapy meetings.

Being True to You — a fully remote coaching company founded in Durango — offers "transformational" training primarily for psychedelic healers, who are taught best practices to "turn insights" that users have during their experiences "into action," spokesperson Vanessa Manning told us.

  • The "real work" starts after the trip, she explained.

Catch up quick: When Colorado voters approved a measure last fall legalizing psychedelics, they allowed people 21 and older to use five natural types: DMT, ibogaine, mescaline (excluding peyote), psilocybin and psilocin.

  • The bill also allows licensed "healing centers" to start opening by late 2024 to provide the drugs to clients.

What they're saying: Attorney Joshua Kappel, who co-authored a state bill creating healing centers, told us he anticipates the first center to open in Colorado in mid-2025.

  • The therapy will likely be expensive — one expert told us it can cost about $3,500 per session in Oregon — so Kappel said he would like to see government subsidies or group sessions to help lower costs and ensure the treatment is accessible.

Of note: Natasia Poinsatte, director at Healing Advocacy Fund Colorado, said using a shared workspace-style office where multiple practitioners can work could be another way to manage costs.

The bottom line: Kappel said Colorado being among the first states to provide this treatment is an honor — but comes with added responsibility. It includes recognizing some of these substances, like mescaline, are connected to meaningful cultural practices.

  • "I think the message for those who want to come to Colorado and have these sorts of experiences is, 'Be safe and be responsible and don't f— it up for everyone,'" Kappel said.

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