New Psychedelic Bill Introduced, Some Coloradans Worry It’s Too Restrictive

New Psychedelic Bill Introduced, Some Coloradans Worry It’s Too Restrictive

Mushrooms Have Arrived at Colorado’s State Capitol.

Some psychedelic folks are scrambling to organize lobbying efforts after a lawmaker introduced a bill regulating the fungus. 

The proposed bill contains details about how the state would go about implementing the landmark Natural Medicine Health Act. The NMHA–also known as Prop 122–was passed in November 2022. It created a path for “healing centers,” where adults over 21 can take psilocybin with a trained guide. The NMHA also legalized four psychedelics for personal use–psilocybin, DMT, mescaline and ibogaine. 

Critics of the new proposed regulations of the NMHA, which are 87 pages long, say they would effectively re-criminalize some aspects of personal use. 

“Sitting in a circle and eating mushrooms would be illegal” under the proposed rules, says Ashley Ryan, a psychedelic educator. She cites a passage of the proposed bill that says that openly and publicly displaying or consuming natural medicines would be classified as a petty offense. 

As a social media personality, Ryan worries her posts would be criminalized. She recently consumed mushrooms on the news, she points out.

As the bill was announced, activists called for a presence on April 20 mid-morning at the state capitol. The bill is scheduled to be read, and the public is invited to testify about it.  

Law is One of the Most Lenient in the Country

The Natural Medicine Health Act is part of sweeping changes in the nation’s drug laws in recent years. More than 30 states have legalized cannabis in some form. And nearly 20 cities, counties and states have decriminalized some psychedelics. 

A sea change occured in 2020, when Oregon, which is often at the forefront of drug reform, voted to create a path for legal guided psilocybin journeys. Colorado followed suit, and passed the NMHA in November with 54 percent of the vote. The NMHA is similar to the Oregon bill. By late 2024, there could be licensed “healing centers” for psilocybin journeys. Yet Colorado’s bill is more expansive. The NMHA created wide leeway for what it called the “personal use” of psilocybin, ibogaine, mescaline and DMT. Personal use included “counseling, spiritual guidance, beneficial community-based use and healing.”

It is those “personal use” freedoms this new bill seeks to curtail, activists worry. 

The proposed bill’s sponsor, State Senate President Steve Fenberg, at a town hall in Boulder recently. Photo by Reilly Capps.

Bill’s Backer Says He Supports Mushrooms

The bill’s sponsor, state Senate president Steve Fenberg, who represents the liberal city of Boulder, has said that he is a fan of mushrooms, not an opponent. He told activists at a town hall in Boulder his nickname in college was Mushroom Steve. This new proposed bill, Fenberg said in a recent online meeting, is almost entirely about the portion of the NMHA that would regulate psilocybin “healing centers.” Its aim, he said, is to make sure “the spirit and intent of the proposition can be implemented in a way that does justice to what the proposition was trying to do.” Fenberg also pointed out that this bill is not unusual. Whenever voters pass a new initiative, there are often a lot of details to be ironed out. Legislators fill in the gaps. Without explicit rules about what is legal and what is illegal, Colorado’s new system may face a challenge from federal law enforcement. 

An email asking for comment from Fenberg’s office was not immediately returned Tuesday. 

Ashley Ryan, a psychedelic educator keeping a watchful eye on state regulations. Photo courtesy of Ashley Ryan

Activists are Wary

Ryan, the psychedelic educator who runs the Psyched4 education site, says that the proposed bill ignores “the voice of the people who voted for” the NMHA, “creates unnecessary bureaucracy and red tape,” and “exposes users and providers of natural medicine to potential legal risks.”

At the heart of the activists’ worry is the informal, underground use of mushrooms, ayahuasca and mescaline. These circles often take place in the foothills outside Denver and Boulder. Journeyers often pay a facilitator anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars for a guided journey that are sometimes called a ceremony.

“We’re going to have to defend ceremonial use,” says Melanie Rose Rodgers, one of the forces behind Denver’s 2019 decriminalization of psilocybin. Despite her support for decriminalization, Rodgers was a vocal opponent of the NMHA, saying in part that it would lead to too many regulations that would stifle community use. The proposed bill, she says, confirms her worries, and “doesn’t seem natural at all.”


Reilly Capps

Reilly Capps

View all posts by Reilly Capps

Reilly Capps is the editorial director of HealingMaps. He has written about psychedelics for Rooster Magazine, The Washington Post, The Telluride Daily Planet, LucidNews, 5280, Chacruna, The Third Wave, and the MAPS Bulletin. A licensed EMT, he used to answer 911 calls on the ambulance in Boulder, Colo., where he learned how drugs affect a community. Read all his work at and follow him on Twitter @reillycapps

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