The Natural Medicine Health Act

There has been movement in the home state of Colorado towards reimplementing the legal use of psychedelic substances via the Natural Medicine Health Act. This act passed by a slim margin during the election of November 2022.  There will be a goal to have supervised licensed “healing center” venues in Colorado by September 2024 which will allow little use of certain psychoactive plants and fungi for people 21 years of age and older.  Additionally, the act plans to decriminalize personal use of these substances for people over the age of 21.  With this being passed, there will be movement forward on establishing what regulations will be required for these healing centers to administer and facilitate the use of these substances in an appropriate manner.  This is similar to measure 109 in the state of Oregon which passed in November 2020, with the state now accepting applications for psilocybin service licensure as of January 2023.

As a medical professional with a passion for helping the much-needed expanded access to treatment of individuals suffering from posttraumatic disorders, treatment resistant depression, existential crises, and chronic pain syndromes; I remain hesitantly optimistic regarding the future of these healing centers.  In my clinical practice I have seen many folks benefit from multidisciplinary approaches to healing their trauma.  This includes that of body work, psychotherapy, meditation, and occasional intentional use of dissociative psychoactive substances (such as ketamine).  My hesitation being, I have also seen increased access to recreational marijuana create some unintended issues, especially related to the increasing potency and ease of access to children.  I have seen poor outcomes related to cyclic vomiting syndrome from daily overuse creating severe dehydration, and increase rates of psychosis and depression that seem to be related to high potency marijuana use in teenage populations.  On the other hand, I have witnessed chronic pain patients be able to decrease their opiate use due to the benefits from marijuana, and I have seen medical marijuana help several patients with their anxiety and seizure disorders.  Paradoxically, I have also seen other patients become increasingly anxious with worsening panic disorders when the use daily marijuana.  That being said, I am intimately familiar with the similarity between high potency marijuana and some of the psychedelic substances such as psilocybin and LSD.  And while I acknowledge the exciting potential that these breakthrough therapies may provide for many patients, I am hoping that as things move forward, these substances can remain primarily in these regulated healing centers with appropriate integration therapy to ensure safety and appropriate therapeutic usage.  Further, I hope there will be appropriate triaging to avoid administering substances to those you may develop potential harmful effects such as those under high risk for psychosis or heart arrythmias.

As I continue in my medical practice, with the mission statement of integrating using body work and potentially psychedelic therapy to help those with severe trauma, I am hoping that the allure of business and profits do not end up causing more harm than good as these powerful substances reemerge with legal use in this country. Though I do not believe use of any drug by itself is cause for criminality, I do not wish for psychedelic related products to become overly potent and sold in large quantities without hesitation or appropriate oversight. These medications are powerful, and I hope they remain used primarily for purposes of healing and self improvement.

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