Mar 13, 2024 - News

Denver introduces psychedelic crisis training program

Tiny mushrooms spores with light brown caps are bunched together inside a lab.

Psilocybin mushroom in AJNA BioSciences' cultivation facility in Littleton, Colo. Photo: Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post

A prominent national psychedelics organization is partnering with Denver to provide what it's calling a first-of-its-kind psychedelic crisis training program.

Why it matters: The training will provide emergency responders with tools to help deescalate situations involving a person experiencing a crisis while under the effects of a psychedelic — also known as "bad trip."

Driving the news: The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) announced on Monday it's created a program on psychedelic crisis assessment and intervention for first responders.

State of play: The training program was commissioned by the Psilocybin Mushroom Policy Review Panel, which was established in Denver after voters in 2019 passed a law decriminalizing magic mushrooms .

  • More than 20 professionals involved in law, medicine, psychiatry, harm reduction and law enforcement helped craft the training program, according to a statement from MAPS.

Behind the scenes: Denver police said in a statement they worked on facilitating the training with panel members by reviewing and vetting the training program created by MAPS.

  • DPD deputy chief Joe Montoya was among the members of the panel, which issued a comprehensive report in 2021 that recommended creating a training program for first responders.
  • The training is not related to decriminalization, but focused instead on recognizing people in crisis, according to DPD, and giving officers "better tools to approach and recognize people in psychedelic crisis."

What they're saying: Kevin Matthews, former president of the policy review panel, in a statement called the training program, "a giant leap forward for public health and safety with psilocybin and natural medicines in Denver."

Zoom in: Paranoia, anxiety, fear, and disorientation are symptoms of a bad trip, Betty Aldworth, communications and post-prohibition strategy director at MAPS, tells us.

  • However, she says people in this state generally don't pose a danger to themselves or others.

Between the lines: Providing care for someone facing a psychedelic crisis requires calming efforts and reassurance from first-responders, who need to create a "sense of safety," Aldworth tells us.

What's next: While the training program was developed for Denver, Aldworth says it may be useful for first responders in other cities and states.


Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Denver.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Denver stories

No stories could be found


Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Denver.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more