It is being hailed as everything from the beginning of a journey to the coming of a new industry, but for sure it’s a step toward legal consumption of “magic mushrooms” in Colorado. The involved event is merely a bureaucratic exercise — today’s first advisory board meeting will, over the next couple of years, move “magic mushrooms” into a legal and regulated space.

The mushrooms are usually eaten and are therefore considered a food safety issue by some. 

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.

The 15-member advisory board appointed by Colorado Gov. Jared Polis is supposed to make an exception for Colorado. The Natural Medicine Advisory Board will advise Colorado’s Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) on the manufacturing, testing, and use of psilocybin and psilocin — the psychoactive compounds in “magic mushrooms.”

In November 2022, Colorado became the second state to legalize psilocybin by passage of a ballot measure. Oregon was the first in 2020. The City and County of Denver in 2021 also approved Ordinance 301 to decriminalize the use and possession in Denver of magic mushrooms.

The Denver ordinance deprioritizes, to the greatest extent possible, the imposition of criminal penalties on anyone 21 years of age and older for the personal use and personal possession of psilocybin mushrooms; and prohibits the city and county of Denver from spending resources on imposing criminal penalties on people 21 years of age and older for the personal use and personal possession of psilocybin mushroom.

Just as it did with recreational marijuana after the 2012 voter initiative, Colorado is clearing the path to make the use of “magic mushrooms” legal. The current schedule calls for the advisory board to make its first recommendations to DORA by Sept. 30, 2023, and DORA is supposed to adopt rules and begin licensing for the centers where mushroom use will be administered one year later by Sept. 30, 2024.

Also by Jan. 1, 2024, individuals who’ve gone through required training will become eligible for licenses.

The Colorado ballot measure asked 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 is needed to correctly identify mushrooms, especially “shrooms” with psychedelic and hallucinogenic effects. 

The latest Colorado initiative caused a split among mushroom advocates, some of whom favored an alternative.   

Initiative 61 removed criminal penalties for using, growing, or possessing psilocybin and other entheogenic plants throughout the state, within the rules.

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