On the heels of his state’s landmark new law that legalizes psychedelic drugs, the governor of Colorado wants to go even further.
Jared Polis, the Democrat who was elected to his second term as the state’s governor last year, said Wednesday that he wants Colorado lawmakers to empower him with the ability to issue pardons to individuals who have been busted for crimes related to psychedelics such as psilocybin mushrooms.
“So anybody who has something on their criminal record that is now legal can have that expunged and doesn’t hold them back from future employment opportunities,” Polis said at the Psychedelic Science conference, which is being held in Denver this week, as quoted by Axios.
“It is still ridiculous that in this day and age somebody suffering from anxiety, depression, PTSD can get medical coverage for very costly prescription drugs but cannot get coverage for a treatment in a healing center that will address some of the underlying causes of the issue,” the governor added.
Polis’s comments come less than a month after he signed a bill that will establish a regulatory framework for psychedelic drugs. The bill was the byproduct of last year’s voter-passed initiative, Proposition 122, and it will officially take effect on July 1.
The measure “legalized therapeutic psilocybin and decriminalized the personal cultivation, use and sharing of psilocybin mushrooms and three other natural psychedelics (DMT, ibogaine and mescaline that is not from peyote),” according to the local outlet Westworld.
“While licensed psilocybin therapy centers could open by late 2024, Prop 122 did not allow for the establishment of retail operations, only healing centers, so there won’t be mushroom stores popping up like the hundreds of cannabis dispensaries currently in Colorado,” Westworld reported last month.
Westworld, reporting this week at the Psychedelic Science conference, noted that Polis [who] “never publicly supported Prop 122 but has praised it since the measure passed, told the crowd that he has ‘no personal connection’ to psychedelic medicine,” but his support of psychedelic use is “values based” and about “body autonomy.”
“We are facing very difficult challenges in mental and behavioral health and are very excited about the opportunities,” Polis said, as quoted by Westworld. “In many of these areas, including cannabis, the people of our state, and not the politicians, led the way.”
The governor said at the conference that he envisions a significant expansion of the state’s psychedelic laws, including changes that would enable psychedelic therapy to be covered by insurance in Colorado.
“Yes, that’s right. People will no longer need to go to Mexico or Colombia. They can come right here to Colorado,” Polis said, as quoted by Westworld.
“Once it’s federally scheduled to be a pharmaceutical, it will immediately be rescheduled in Colorado,” the governor added. “We want people to say…Colorado got this right. Look, I’m sure we’ll get a few things wrong, but we can learn from them and build upon them.”
After a majority of Colorado voters approved Prop 122 in November, parts of the initiative took effect in December of last year.
“Coloradans voted last November and participated in our democracy,” Polis said at the time. “Officially validating the results of the citizen and referred initiatives is the next formal step in our work to follow the will of the voters and implement these voter-approved measures.”
About 53% of voters in Colorado approved Proposition 122 in last year’s election.
Following Polis’s certification of the measure in December, psychedelics were officially decriminalized in Colorado.