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Legal Guide to Decriminalized Natural Medicine in Colorado

May 29, 2023

The information below is for educational purposes only and shall not be construed as legal advice. Colorado is the first state to decriminalize natural psychedelics for personal and communal use. Natural psychedelics remain illegal under federal law. Please be conscientious and know the laws.

In November 2022, Colorado passed the historic Natural Medicine Health Act, which creates access to natural psychedelic medicines through both a state-regulated model and a decriminalized personal and communal use model. This law was recently amended by Senate Bill 23-290, which goes into effect on July 1st, 2023. Read this guide for information related to personal use of natural medicines, civil protections, and Colorado's regulated natural medicine access program.

Personal Use

Under Colorado law and subject to additional restrictions, adults (21+) may:

  • Possess, use, cultivate, manufacture, and share natural medicine for “personal use”

    • Personal use is limited to what is necessary to share for counseling, spiritual guidance, beneficial community-based use and healing, supported use, or related services

    • Test personal use products provided that:

      • The person submitting a product for testing provides a signed statement that the product is intended only for personal use

      • The person conducting the testing discloses, in writing, that they are not licensed by the state to conduct testing

    • Receive remuneration for bona fide harm reduction and support services provided with the sharing of natural medicine provided there is no advertising of the service or the natural medicine and the person performing the services provides a disclaimer that they are not a licensed Facilitator

Under Colorado law, it is a petty drug crime to ($100 - $1000 fine):

  • Use or possess natural medicine if you are under the age of twenty-one

  • Consume or display natural medicine “openly and publicly”

    • “Openly” means the conduct is observable to the public or a substantial number of the public, and “publicly” means a place somewhere a substantial number of the public has access to without restriction such as streets, highways, transportation facilities, parks, common areas of buildings, etc. It does not include any activity occurring on private residential property

  • Cultivate natural medicine in a space larger than 12x12 sq ft

  • Cultivate natural medicine outside of an “enclosed locked space” in a private residence

    • If a person under 21 resides on the premises the cultivation area must be enclosed and locked

    • If no person under 21 resides on the property, the dwelling as a whole must have external locks and the cultivator must ensure access to the cultivation area is reasonably restricted when a person under 21 enters the dwelling

Under Colorado law, it is a misdemeanor to:

  • Drive under the influence of any natural medicine

  • Practice “Facilitation” or hold oneself out as a “Facilitator” without a license

    • There is an exclusion to this prohibition for bona fide religious, culturally traditional, or spiritual ceremonies provided that the ceremony provider informs the participants that they are not a licensed facilitator and the ceremony is not associated with a business, commercial or for-profit activity

Under Colorado law, it is a felony to:

  • Share any natural medicine with someone under the age of twenty-one

  • Share Ibogaine regardless of age

  • Sell natural medicine or share natural medicine for remuneration

  • Share natural medicine as part of a business promotion/commercial activity

  • Possess with the intent to distribute for a prohibited purpose

  • Share or possess with the intent to distribute natural medicine for use other than Personal Use

  • Extract natural medicine with inherently dangerous chemicals

Natural Medicines include:

  • Psilocybin

  • Psilocin

  • Mescaline (excluding peyote)

  • Ibogaine

  • Dimethyltryptamine  (DMT)

Natural medicine also includes products containing natural medicines such as mushroom chocolates or certain ayahuasca brews

Natural Medicines exclude:

  • Synthetic and synthetic analogues are excluded from the definition of natural medicine. The exclusion includes analogues that are derived from natural medicine but converted into an analogue via a chemical process

  • Ornamental plants that were commonly and lawfully grown before the enactment of SB23-290 are excluded from restrictions around cultivation, sales, and display provided they are grown for ornamental purposes only

Civil Protections

Personal use of natural medicine cannot be used as the sole basis for:

  • Denial of an organ transplant or related medical services

  • Denial or limitation of healthcare benefits

  • Denial of public assistance programs, unless required by federal law

  • Denial of rights or privileges

  • Seizure or forfeiture of assets

  • Parole & probation violations

  • Restriction of family time

  • Arrest, detention and probable cause determinations

  • For professional license holders, loss of licensure or professional disciplinary action

Colorado's Regulated Natural Medicine Access Program

The state-regulated supported-use program is in a stakeholder process and is set to begin Q1 2025.

For a schedule of stakeholder meetings, go to the Natural Medicine Health Act Homepage.

The Natural Medicine Advisory Board will make initial recommendations of rules to state regulators by September 30, 2023. Regulators will adopt all rules necessary to implement the program and begin accepting applications for licensure by September 30, 2024.

Federal Law

Natural psychedelic medicines remain illegal under Federal law.

Psilocybin, Psilocin, Mescaline, Ibogaine, and Dimethyltryptamine  (DMT) are all schedule I substances under the Federal Controlled Substances Act. The protections provided by Colorado law do not apply on federal lands or if stopped by a federal officer.

If you are interested in participating in this new emerging field, Vicente LLP is here to guide you. Learn more about our Psychedelics & Emerging Therapies services.

For a complete analysis of Colorado’s Natural Medicine Health Laws post SB23-290, read "The Ultimate Guide to SB23-290, Colorado’s Natural Medicine Regulation and Legalization Bill"

Click here to read all of Vicente's articles about Natural Psychedelic Medicine in Colorado 

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