Colorado legalized psilocybin. Now what?
If Oregon’s experience as the first-ever state to legalize psilocybin is any indication, Colorado is in for a long, strange trip as it moves to set up its own legal industry. Enthusiasm about psychedelics among the general public has been growing in recent years, as clinical studies have yielded promising results in psilocybin’s ability to treat post-traumatic stress disorder, severe depression and other ailments. Still, legalization in Oregon in 2020 and in Colorado last month passed narrowly — with 56% and 54% support, respectively — proving residents have mixed feelings about setting up a regulated industry around the federally controlled substance found in “magic mushrooms.” Backlash among Oregonians was so swift, in fact, that during the recent midterm election, voters in dozens of counties and cities decided to ban psilocybin services and manufacturers. Some of those bans are temporary, but ultimately they inform where the nascent industry will take root. “It’s complex,” said Angela Allbee, who works as Oregon’s Psilocybin Services Section Manager for the Oregon Health Authority (OHA). “We know this is a huge responsibility, so we’re really trying hard to educate communities around the state and others that are interested.” The OHA’s process of building a new psilocybin industry from scratch started slowly. It took several months to first get the legislature to allocate funds for a department that would handle psilocybin-related regulations and implementation, and hire staff. The governor then appointed an advisory board to guide the agency, which began convening in March 2021. Throughout 2022, the authority worked through logistical components, such as ensuring prospective licensees can apply online, developing a training curriculum and compliance standards, and building a system that tracks psilocybin mushrooms from spore to sale. Statutorily, Oregon’s advisory board had until June 30 to make its recommendations. The OHA then sought public comment…
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