On June 27, 2022, the campaign Natural Medicine Colorado reported submitting 222,648 signatures for a ballot initiative to decriminalize certain psychedelic plants and fungi. The ballot initiative would appear on the ballot in November.
The psychedelic plants and fungi, also known as hallucinogenic or entheogenic plants and fungi, that would be decriminalized for personal use are classified as Schedule I controlled substances in Colorado. These plants and fungi include dimethyltryptamine (DMT); ibogaine; mescaline (excluding peyote); psilocybin; and psilocyn.
The ballot initiative would also establish a program for the supervised administration of such substances; create a framework for regulating the growth, distribution, and sale of such substances to permitted entities; and create an advisory board to develop rules and implement the program.
To qualify for the ballot, 124,632 signatures must be valid. The secretary of state is responsible for signature verification. Verification is conducted through a review of petitions regarding correct form. The secretary then takes a sample of 5% of the signatures at random for verification. If the sampling projects between 90% and 110% of the signatures are valid, a full check of all signatures is required. If the sampling projects more than 110% of the required signatures, the initiative is certified for the ballot. If less than 90% are projected to be valid, the initiative fails. If a petition is deemed insufficient, proponents have 15 days to file an addendum with additional signatures. This cure-period does not extend the final deadline for signature submission, which is August 8 for 2022 ballot measures in Colorado.
Kevin Matthews, a representative for Natural Medicine Colorado, said, “This initiative would give Coloradans access to a new, promising, and research-based treatment option for PTSD, depression, anxiety, and other mental health challenges, in a safe, careful, and beneficial way. These medicines can be transformative for people who have suffered for years and struggled to find help.” Matthews also worked on the Decriminalize Denver campaign, which supported Initiative 301 in 2019. Voter approval of Initiative 301 made Denver the first local jurisdiction to decriminalize the use of psilocybin. The initiative made the adult possession and use of psilocybin mushrooms the lowest law enforcement priority in Denver and prohibited the city from spending resources on enforcing related penalties.
As of June 2022, 15 local jurisdictions had decriminalized psilocybin possession or deprioritized policing, prosecution, and arrest for possession of psilocybin. Three jurisdictions did so through the citizen initiative process and 11 did so through local government resolutions.
With the approval of Measure 109 and 110 in 2020, Oregon became the first state to create a program for administering psilocybin products, such as psilocybin-producing mushrooms and fungi, to individuals aged 21 years or older and the first state to decriminalize all drugs.
According to campaign finance reports through June 22, Natural Medicine Colorado reported $2.56 million in contributions (all from New Approach PAC) and $2.52 million in expenditures.
New Approach PAC has supported and funded initiative campaigns nationwide to legalize marijuana and create medical marijuana programs. In 2020, New Approach supported Oregon’s Measure 109 that created a program for administering psilocybin products; and Washington D.C.’s Initiative 81 that declared that police shall treat the non-commercial cultivation, distribution, possession, and use of plants and fungi that contain ibogaine, dimethyltryptamine, mescaline, psilocybin, or psilocyn as among the lowest law enforcement priorities.