Why it matters: Colorado Governor Jared Polis wants to be able to issue pardons to individuals who have been previously convicted of crimes related to psychedelics such as psilocybin mushrooms. This comes after the state passed a landmark new law legalizing psychedelic drugs, which will take effect from July 1st.
What they are saying: Polis announced his plans at the Psychedelic Science conference in Denver, stating that he wanted to enable individuals with criminal records related to now-legal compounds to have those records expunged, meaning that these previous convictions would no longer impact future employment opportunities. The Governor has also signaled plans to expand the state’s psychedelic laws, including enabling psychedelic therapy to be covered by insurance in Colorado.
The big picture: Last year, Colorado voters passed Proposition 122, legalizing therapeutic psilocybin, decriminalizing the personal cultivation and use of psychedelics, and establishing a regulatory framework for these substances. Licensed psilocybin therapy centers could open by late 2024 in the state, while prohibition of cannabis remains in place federally.
What to watch: It remains to be seen whether Polis will get his wish to issue pardons to individuals with previous criminal convictions related to psychedelics. Additionally, if insurance coverage is expanded in recognition of the therapeutic benefits of these substances, it will be a significant step towards their wider acceptance.
My take: Colorado is at the forefront of the movement towards decriminalizing and legalizing psychedelic substances for medicinal use. If the state is successful in implementing this type of reform and making it economically and socially viable, it will pave the way for other states to follow suit. However, it will likely face some pushback from those who remain opposed to individuals using these substances.