On Tuesday, November 8, 2022, Colorado citizens will vote on Colorado Proposition 122, the Decriminalization, Regulated Distribution, and Therapy Program for Certain Hallucinogenic Plants and Fungi Initiative. If the proposition passes, psilocybin, psilocin, DMT, ibogaine, and some forms of mescaline will become decriminalized and regulated in the state of Colorado.

Passing Proposition 122 would effectively classify these plant medicines as natural medicines and facilities could become licensed to distribute them for use under supervision.

What are the arguments in favor of and against Proposition 122? How would this change the landscape of hallucinogenic use and enforcement in Colorado if voters approve the measure?

Here’s what voters need to know.

What is Colorado Proposition 122?

Proposition 122 would amend Colorado statutes to allow licensed facilities to sell and supervise the use of psilocybin mushrooms by adults 21 and over by 2024. It would also allow the state of Colorado to regulate these substances.

Additionally, by 2026, the state of Colorado would be able to allow licensed facilities to distribute and supervise the use of dimethyltryptamine (DMT), ibogaine, or mescaline (excluding mescaline derived from peyote, due to sustainability concerns).

If Prop 122 passes, possessing, growing and using personal amounts of these substances will be decriminalized, but individuals who sell or attempt to sell these substances will face legal penalties.

Who would it help?

Passing Colorado Proposition 122 would help expand treatment options for people with certain medical and psychological conditions.

While research around psilocybin, psilocin, DMT, ibogaine and mescaline is still in its infancy, psychedelic-assisted therapy shows promise for treating treatment-resisitant depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), conditions rooted in anxiety (such as obsessive-compulsive disorder and eating disorders), and even conditions like stroke and Altzheimer’s disease.

How Colorado Proposition 122 Would Work

Colorado Proposition 122 works on the basis of decriminalization and regulation.

Decriminalization under Proposition 122

Decriminalization means that law enforcement would no longer be able to arrest, detain, warn, cite, or otherwise penalize individuals over the age of 21 for possession or use of psilocybin, psilocin, DMT, ibogaine and mescaline (except peyote).

If the measure does not pass, Colorado drug law would remain the same: psilocybin, psilocin, DMT, ibogaine and mescaline would remain illegal to possess, sell, and use.

Regulation Under Proposition 122

The agency responsible for regulating the relevant plant medicines, The Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA), will determine how plant medicine facilities, practitioners, cultivators and manufacturers will obtain licenses and registration.

DORA will also be responsible for consumer protection, including public education campaigns and collecting data on program implementation and outcomes.

What are the Campaigns Surrounding Proposition 122?

Natural Medicine Colorado is in favor of passing Proposition 122, and Protect Our Kids opposes Proposition 122.

The most active and well-funded campaign in favor of Colorado Proposition 122 is Natural Medicine Colorado. The campaign aims to educate the public about current research showing efficacy of illegal plant medicines for certain conditions and to highlight who might benefit from legal, regulated, and supervised use of these substances.

Protect Our Kids, an activist organization that aims to tighten drug law, argues that the measure contains a loophole that companies could exploit for profit and wider distribution. As it’s written, Proposition 122 holds that companies may not sell these products outside of a facility setting, but there is no prohibition against gifting these substances. So, companies would be free to include a gift with purchase, so to speak, which they argue effectively creates a retail market.

Additionally, Protect Our Kids holds that while these substances show promise, evidence is not conclusive enough to be fully confident in their safety and efficacy.

The Natural Medicine Health Act of 2022

You can access the full text of the Natural Medicine Health Act of 2022 here.

The Arguments

The arguments for the prop

  • Psilocybin, psilocin, DMT, ibogaine, and mescaline are research-backed treatments that show positive results in real patients
  • These substances can expand doctors’ and patients’ options when deciding on a care plan for debilitating and sometimes fatal disorders
  • So far, research has shown that psilocybin, psilocin, DMT, ibogaine, and mescaline are safe and few adverse events have been reported
  • Current research has shown that these substances are not addictive

The arguments against the prop

  • Decriminalization could increase recreational access to these drugs
  • These treatment modalities could have unintended consequences for mental health, as their mechanisms of action are still under investigation
  • Safety of psilocybin, psilocin, DMT, ibogaine, and mescaline are not fully understood
  • The way the measure is written, it could inadvertently create a recreational retail market for drugs and law enforcement would not be allowed to interfere

What can YOU do?

If you are a resident of Colorado, you can vote on Proposition 122 on Tuesday, November 8th, 2022.

Where to vote on Proposition 122

You can look up your polling place and drop box location at the Colorado Secretary of State website. Take note of operating hours when deciding when to vote.

Final Thoughts

Psilocybin, psilocin, DMT, ibogaine, and mescaline are showing promise as treatments for debilitating and potentially fatal diseases and conditions. As of yet, research has shown that psilocybin, psilocin, DMT, ibogaine, and mescaline have few adverse effects and are not addictive. Clinicians could use these substances as tools to help patients, especially if they’ve exhausted other treatment options. However, because psychedelic research is still early, we have to acknowledge the possibility of unintended consequences, including adverse health effects.