Denver Launches Psychedelics Work Group To Guide Local Regulations Under Statewide Legalization Law

Denver’s government is forming a work group to explore local regulations under a statewide psychedelics legalization law that’s now being actively implemented in Colorado.

The Denver Department of Excise and Licenses announced on Thursday that it is creating the Natural Medicine Work Group following voter-approval of a historic psychedelic reform initiative at the ballot in 2022.

Denver, which became the first city in the U.S. to decriminalize psilocybin in 2019, is now seeking “community members and stakeholders with expertise in natural medicine, public health, public health, youth advocacy, social justice and tribal and indigenous interests” to join the work group, the Department of Excise and Licenses said.

“We’re determined to follow a similar process in exploring regulations like Denver did when we became the first city in America with legalized recreational marijuana sales,” Molly Duplechian, executive director of the department, said in a press release.

“We will use the Denver collaborative approach with many Denver government agencies working together with the community and various stakeholders to look at how we can protect public health and safety while also achieving the will of the voters who supported state and local ballot initiatives in 2019 and 2022,” she said.

Denver already has a Psilocybin Mushroom Policy Panel that’s been investigating psychedelics policy under the locally approved ballot measure. That body will help inform the department’s work on local regulatory rulemaking.

The department said officials will hold four monthly virtual meetings, beginning on March 28 and ending on June 27. People interested in joining the work group are invited to apply by March 13.

In May of last year, Gov. Jared Polis (D) signed a psychedelics regulation bill into law following the voter-approved initiative to legalize psychedelics, which made Colorado the first state to allow adults to legally produce, possess and use substances like psilocybin, ibogaine, mescaline and DMT.

In his annual State of the State address last month, the governor touted the state’s leadership on both adult-use marijuana and the emerging psychedelic reform movement.

While Polis has embraced the reforms, also calling psychedelics a “promising” treatment option for certain mental health conditions, he previously declined to endorse the psychedelics proposal ahead of voters approving it in the 2022 election.

The governor nevertheless been supportive of the programs since then. In August, he said marijuana and psychedelics legalization had been “very good” for the state, adding that he believes adults generally should have the right to make decisions for themselves about using drugs.

In June of last year, as the state prepared to implement regulations for legal use of substances like psilocybin and ibogaine, Polis also called on lawmakers to give him the authority to issue mass pardons to people with past psychedelics convictions.

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Photo elements courtesy of carlosemmaskype and Apollo.

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