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Medical psychedelics should not be cast in the same light as illicit drugs

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Medical psychedelics should not be cast in the same light as illicit drugs

Apr 09, 2024 | 2:44 pm ET
By Tom Downs
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Medical psychedelics should not be cast in the same light as illicit drugs
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Elke Carre wears stickers in support of an initiative that would decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms at an election watch party for Decriminalize Denver on May 7, 2019, in Denver. (Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images)

Colorado’s legislature should be commended for it’s pursuit of making sure our kids benefit from the power of the internet. Unfortunately the recent measures aimed at limiting the online discussion surrounding “illicit drugs” inadvertently harms Colorado’s growing field of medical psychedelics.

While the intent of Social Media Protect Juveniles Disclosures Reports’ (Senate Bill 24-158) intent is commendable, its broad application risks stifling vital conversations on the therapeutic use of psychedelics, thereby curtailing both public health advancements and economic growth.

Colorado has given me a lot to be thankful for. As a social entrepreneur, I often am humbled at the small role I am playing to help bring the benefits of the relational medicine psilocybin to the people of Colorado. Growing up in Colorado in this moment is a daunting task. Although our youth are more “connected” than ever, rising isolation and a severe mental health crisis are increasing suicide rates among teens nationwide.

Growing up with a Black mom and a white dad in Alabama, I know a little about alienation. For me, an important step in my development as a teenager was the purpose and drive that microdosing psilocybin provided me as a teen. My teachers marveled when I transformed my senior year from an average student with unapplied potential, into a straight-A student being awarded a scholarship to Mizzou’s esteemed journalism school.

Let’s be clear. What I am not suggesting is that everyone would benefit the way I did from microdosing as a teenager. The last thing that I and other responsible proponents of natural medicine want is a laissez faire approach to the use of this important sacrament. What I am saying is that soon Coloradans will be able to call on the amazing healing and purpose-giving power of psilocybin in a therapeutic or ceremonial setting.

We must find a middle ground that ensures our youth have positive experiences online without hampering the progress of vital industries, limiting access to transformative therapies or stifling Colorado’s trailblazing spirit.

This legislation, by casting psychedelics and their therapeutic benefits in the same light as illicit drugs, not only undermines individual health autonomy but also threatens Colorado’s innovative spirit in mental health treatment and economic development, and deprives suffering Coloradans of the knowledge of potentially life-saving therapies.

The challenge extends beyond the potential for preemptive social media censorship, driven by the complexities of compliance, to the essence of how we approach mental health treatment. Colorado has historically led in integrating alternative therapies and responsibly regulating substances for medical use. The current legislation risks sidelining a field ripe with potential for profound psychological healing at a time when innovative solutions are sorely needed.

We must find a middle ground that ensures our youth have positive experiences online without hampering the progress of vital industries, limiting access to transformative therapies or stifling Colorado’s trailblazing spirit. I urge legislators to foster an environment that supports mental health initiatives and the continued growth of the psychedelic therapy sector.

Let’s ensure our legislative actions reflect the balance between innovation and protection without diminishing our commitment to advancing public health and economic vitality.