Colorado could decriminalize the personal use and possession of certain psychedelic plants and fungi, including “magic mushrooms,” and create a Natural Medicine Access Program, according to a voter initiative on the November ballot.

Oregon, two years ago, became the first state to legalize psilocybin with the approval of Measure 109. Oregon also was the first state to decriminalize certain other drugs with 2020’s passage of Measure 110 

And Denver voters by a narrow margin in early 2021 approved Ordinance 301 to decriminalize the use and possession of mushrooms that contain psilocybin, a hallucinogenic compound. 

The purpose and intent of the Denver ordinance were to deprioritize, to the greatest extent possible, imposition of criminal penalties on anyone twenty-one (21) years of age and older for the personal use and personal possession of psilocybin mushrooms; and to prohibit the city and county of Denver from spending resources on imposing criminal penalties on people twenty-one (21) years of age and older for the personal use and personal possession of psilocybin mushroom.

Colorado was the first state in 2012 to legalize the recreational use of marijuana, also through a voter initiative.

Psilocybin mushrooms are classified as an illegal Schedule I drug under federal law. Schedule I drugs include substances that are not recognized for medical use and that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) defines as having a high potential for abuse and dependence. 

“Decriminalize Denver” stated that the local initiative aimed to place possession and use of psilocybin mushrooms at the lowest level of law enforcement priority rather than the legalization of the substance.

This year’s state ballot asks voters to legalize the psychoativ4 compounds in magic mushrooms and establish “healing centers” with the public that can consume them “in a therapeutic content.”

Some mushrooms are poisonous, and some are even deadly when consumed. With 180 species, knowledge and skill are needed to correctly identify mushrooms, especially “shrooms” with psychedelic and hallucinogenic effects. 

And the current Colorado initiative has caused a split among advocates, some of whom are supporting a still circulating alternative.   

Known as Initiative 61, it would remove criminal penalties for using, growing, or possessing psilocybin and other entheogenic plants throughout the state, but 61 would not create a state-regulated market.

In Colorado, citizens have the powers of initiative, both statute and constitutional, and veto referendum

To get an initiated state statute or initiated constitutional amendment on the ballot in 2022, proponents had to collect 124,632 valid signatures. 

Petitioners had six months to circulate signature petitions. The state constitution sets the deadline for submitting signatures three months before the election. 

Colorado is one of 23 states that allow citizens to refer an enacted bill to the ballot as a veto referendum. As with initiatives, a veto referendum requires 124,632 valid signatures. 

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