Colorado Psychedelics Regulators Launch ‘Listening Sessions’ As They Prepare To Craft New Industry Rules

Colorado officials who will oversee the state’s legal psychedelics program are hosting a series of upcoming listening sessions, one of the first steps toward implementing regulated access provisions of the voter-approved legalization law.

Leaders of the Colorado Natural Medicine Division, part of the state Department of Revenue, say the meetings are meant to engage stakeholders and keep the public informed.

“We believe it is critical to involve the community in the process of standing up a new program for natural medicine that reflects a diversity of perspectives,” the division’s senior director, Dominique Mendiola, said in a press release on Tuesday. “Through our regulatory experience, we have learned that a key factor is collaborating with all stakeholders. These Listening Sessions will provide a platform for all voices to be heard to ensure the adopted framework is balanced and well-informed.”

Six events have been scheduled so far, but regulators say they expect to announce future meetings in October and November “as we navigate these initial conversations.”

The subjects and scheduled times of the newly announced listening sessions are as follows:

September 5, 11 a.m. – 12 p.m.: SB 23-290 Overview & Introduction to Natural Medicine Division
September 12, 2 p.m. – 3 p.m.: First & Multi Responder Trainings
September 22, 2 p.m. – 3 p.m.: Public Education Campaigns
September 27, 10 a.m. – 11 a.m.: Testing Program
October 3, 10 a.m. – 11 a.m.: Cultivation & Manufacturing Practices

CDOR’s Natural Medicine Division is pleased to announce a series of upcoming Listening Sessions, set to begin on September 5, aimed at engaging stakeholders and the public in shaping the regulatory framework for facilities in the state. Learn more: https://t.co/qB4UwfUroQ. pic.twitter.com/NpVnaLbtmE

— CO Dept. of Revenue (@CO_Revenue) August 29, 2023

Meetings will be held online on Zoom. They’ll be recorded and open to the public, the division says, but in-person attendance is less certain. If officials are “able to secure space at the Department of Revenue for an in-person attendance option,” that information will be posted to the session agenda and its website.

The schedule separately lists the dates of several upcoming meetings of the Natural Medicine Advisory Board between now and September 25. The 15-person body is responsible for making recommendations on aspects of the program.

Colorado voters in November passed Proposition 122 to legalize the possession, use, cultivation and sharing of certain psychedelics, including psilocybin, psilocyin, ibogaine, mescaline (not derived from peyote) and DMT. This May, lawmakers passed legislation to establish a regulatory framework for legalization, which Gov. Jared Polis (D) signed into law later that month.

While home cultivation, possession and use are already legal, the listening sessions are a first step in implementing the new law as it pertains to licensed facilities, which are called healing centers, where adults 21 and older will eventually be able to receive care under guidance from a trained facilitator.

Psilocybin and psilocyn, two active components of psychedelic mushrooms, will initially be available from healing centers. Regulators also have the option of making ibogaine available, although they must wait until June 2026 to consider allowing facilities to offer mescaline and DMT.

As part of the policy change, Polis earlier this summer called on lawmakers to allow his office to issue mass pardons for people with prior criminal convictions for psychedelics. He also said he believes federal health insurance programs should cover psychedelics treatment.

The governor also spoke about psychedelics reform in a new Reason documentary in which former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) also made an appearance.

“Just like cannabis, the people are ahead of the politicians,” Polis said, noting that the negative consequences that critics warned about never actually materialized. “I think if we fast forward 10 years,” he added, “we want to have that same story to tell on natural medicine and psychedelics.”

He’s separately said that legalization of cannabis and psychedelics have “been very good” for the state. “We put a lot of the corner drug dealers out of business. It’s created jobs [and] tax revenue, and it’s led to a safer product.”

Polis has previously voiced support for psychedelics decriminalization, but he said ahead of November’s election that he was still undecided on how he would vote on the proposal.

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Photo elements courtesy of carlosemmaskype and Apollo.

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