The Differences Between Colorado and Oregon’s Psilocybin Laws

The Differences Between Colorado and Oregon’s Psilocybin Laws

It’s an exciting time for psilocybin laws changing in America: On January 1, Oregon became the first state to legalize the adult use of psilocybin and will soon allow for dedicated psilocybin healing centers. Then, on January 4, psilocybin and other psychedelic drugs were effectively decriminalized in the state of Colorado following a November 2022 ballot initiative.

Slowly but surely, more jurisdictions are passing legislation related to the use of psychedelics and plant medicines. As different states create different sets of rules, though, it can be tough to keep track of what each one permits.

Exciting news: Two states have legalized psilocybin therapy for the first time ever. Click here to get on the waiting list for Oregon psilocybin therapy. And click here to get on the waiting list for Colorado psilocybin therapy.

The Differences Between Colorado and Oregon’s Psilocybin Laws

Legal StatusDecriminalized for personal use (possession, cultivation, sharing)Legal for therapeutic use only
Effective DateDecriminalization: May 2023; Therapy program: December 2024 (estimated)January 1st, 2023
Possession & CultivationAllowed for personal use (no specific quantity limits)Not allowed outside of licensed facilities
Sales & DistributionNot allowedNot allowed for recreational use; allowed for licensed facilitators within therapy program
Therapy ProgramIn development; licensing and regulations for facilitators and facilities ongoingEstablished (sort of); facilitators and facilities require licensing
Age Restriction21+ for possession and use18+ for therapy program participation
Local Opt-OutNot allowedCounties and cities can opt-out of allowing psilocybin therapy services
Other Psychedelics IncludedPsilocybin, psilocin, ibogaine, mescaline, DMTPsilocybin only
EnforcementLaw enforcement instructed to prioritize serious crimes; possession treated as a civil violation with fineDecriminalized, treated as a violation with fine

To help draw attention to some of the major differences between psilocybin laws in Oregon and Colorado, HealingMaps spoke with Courtney Barnes, a social justice attorney specializing in drug policy reform.

While working for the law firm Vicente Sederberg, Barnes was a lead drafter of the nation’s first voter-initiated psilocybin policy reform ordinance, Denver’s Psilocybin Decriminalization Initiative (I-301) in 2018. She also serves as a political advisor for Decriminalize Nature, and is general counsel for the Society for Psychedelic Outreach, Reform, and Education (SPORE).

“In 2019, Denver became the first city in the U.S. to decriminalize psilocybin via voter initiative. Since that time, I have been involved with the drafting of over a dozen different state and local psychedelics-related measures across the country,” says Barnes. She is not licensed to practice law in Oregon. But says she will be involved in the implementation of Proposition 122 in Colorado.

RELATED: Not Everyone’s Happy About the Changes to Colorado’s Psilocybin Bill

Psilocybin Laws In Oregon And Colorado: The Differences

Barnes says that Colorado and Oregon are fundamentally similar in their approach to regulating psilocybin. However, there are some material differences between the two states’ psilocybin laws.

“The biggest differences, in my opinion, are related to the compounds,” says Barnes. For example, Oregon’s measure is psilocybin specific, “whereas Colorado’s proposed regulatory system is structured to allow the addition of other psychedelic compounds like ibogaine and mescaline into its access model starting in 2026.”

RELATED: Are Magic Mushrooms Legal in Colorado?

This means that, in the future, people living in Colorado could have access to other drugs at psychedelic treatment centers. In Oregon, however, treatment centers can only use psilocybin.

The introduction of additional substances in Colorado won’t occur until the psilocybin program is running, according to Barnes. Both states require that people attending these centers be over the age of 21.

Another difference Barnes highlights is that Colorado’s ballot measure includes language around decriminalization. The adoption in Oregon was a more restrictive decriminalization approach — via a separate ballot, Measure 110.

In Oregon, Measure 109 proposed state regulations for psilocybin treatment centers. However, Measure 110 was introduced to decriminalize personal, non-commercial possession of all drugs. This includes cocaine, heroin, LSD, methamphetamine, and oxycodone.

Oregon is the only state to decriminalize all drugs. This means that, in Oregon, a person found to be in possession of a small amount of any drug, psychedelic or not, will not face criminal charges. Instead, he/she will receive a civil citation and a $100 fine — or an option to attend a state-funded addiction recovery center.

In Colorado, Proposition 122 was passed to decriminalize psychedelic plant medicines. This allows people over the age of 21 to possess and share psilocybin, psilocin, DMT, ibogaine, and mescaline (excluding peyote).

Oregon and Colorado also have different rules around whether or not municipalities can opt out of psilocybin legislation.

“Oregon also allows municipalities to ban the operation of psilocybin service centers whereas Colorado does not allow localities to totally opt out of the program,” says Barnes. “Colorado does, however, allow reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions on the operation of its to-be licensed facilities.”

Barnes imagines the product types offered in the two states may differ as well. However, she points out that this — and other questions around the two pieces of psilocybin laws — will remain unanswered until rulemaking occurs in Colorado.

RELATED: Oregon issues its first license to a psilocybin service center.

The Opportunities

The business opportunities within the pieces of legislation “are limitless,” says Barnes. There are some differences in the way each state will structure licensing and production.

In Colorado, psilocybin service centers are designed to be vertically integrated, says Barnes. This allows businesses to grow, manufacture, provide, and distribute psilocybin or natural medicine.

Oregon has created four different license types for each part of the supply chain. This includes specific licenses for manufacturing, laboratories (for lab testing), service centers, and facilitators. Licensed businesses will be able to engage in the manufacturing, transportation, delivery, and the provision of psilocybin services.

There will also be plenty of opportunities for people operating ancillary businesses, such as integration coaching and data tracking.

“Now that Colorado allows people to essentially grow their own psilocybin, there’ll be businesses that are going to be able to support that activity as well,” says Barnes. “With the influx of this new industry, there will be new cultural dynamics — from food to tourism to fashion. It’s going to have a ripple effect across the world, with people traveling to Colorado and Oregon to have these experiences.”

Amanda Siebert

Amanda Siebert

View all posts by Amanda Siebert

Amanda has written for The New York Times, Vice and The Dales Report, and is also a contributing writer for Forbes and Leafly. She is also the founder of Inside the Jar, an independent publication focusing on counter culture in the United States and Canada.

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