DENVER, Colo. (Nov. 11, 2022) – Colorado voters passed a ballot measure decriminalizing several naturally occurring psychedelic substances including “magic mushrooms” despite the ongoing federal prohibition of the same.

Proposition 122 defines specific psychedelic plants and fungi as “natural medicines.” Initially, the definition will include psilocybin and psilocyn. In 2026, a Natural Medicine Advisory Board will have the option of adding dimethyltryptamine (DMT), ibogaine, and mescaline (excluding peyote) to the list.

The law decriminalizes the personal use, possession, growth, and transport of natural medicines for persons 21 years old and older. It also creates a regulatory structure for the cultivation and distribution of natural medicines through a “natural medicine services program.” The program will offer treatment using natural medicines with supervised administration at state-licensed “healing centers.” The newly created Natural Medicine Advisory Board will promulgate rules and manage the regulatory system.

The law also creates a process for individuals who have completed a sentence relating to the use of psychedelic plants covered under the law to have their criminal record sealed.

All of this is illegal under federal law. Despite that fact, Prop 122 passed by a 51-49 percent margin.

These psychotropic substances alter perception, mood, consciousness, cognition, or behavior. This includes psilocybin, the psychoactive compound found in “magic mushrooms.” A number of studies have shown psilocybin to be effective in the treatment of depression, PTSD, chronic pain and addiction. For instance, a Johns Hopkins study found that “psilocybin produces substantial and sustained decreases in depression and anxiety in patients with life-threatening cancer.”

Denver effectively decriminalized psilocybin in 2019. Arcata, Oakland and Santa Cruz, California, along with Detriot Michigan have also passed decrim measures.

Decriminalization and legalization efforts at the state and local level are moving forward despite the federal government’s prohibition of psilocybin and other psychedelic substances.


Under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) passed in 1970, the federal government maintains the complete prohibition of psilocybin and other psychedelic substances. Of course, the federal government lacks any constitutional authority to ban or regulate such substances within the borders of a state, despite the opinion of the politically connected lawyers on the Supreme Court. If you doubt this, ask yourself why it took a constitutional amendment to institute federal alcohol prohibition.

In effect, the passage of this ballot measure will end criminal enforcement of laws prohibiting the possession of these substances in Colorado. As we’ve seen with marijuana and hemp, when states and localities stop enforcing laws banning a substance, the federal government finds it virtually impossible to maintain prohibition. For instance, FBI statistics show that law enforcement makes approximately 99 of 100 marijuana arrests under state, not federal law. Curtailing or ending state or local prohibition, sweep part of the basis for 99 percent of marijuana arrests.

Furthermore, figures indicate it would take 40 percent of the DEA’s yearly annual budget just to investigate and raid all of the dispensaries in Los Angeles – a single city in a single state. That doesn’t include the cost of prosecution either. The lesson? The feds lack the resources to enforce marijuana prohibition without state and local assistance, and the same will likely hold true with other drugs.

Mike Maharrey

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