Colorado voters approve 2 health-related ballot measures
Coloradans voted to approve 2 health-related measures on the 2022 midterm ballot.
Proposition FF passed with 55.1% approval. Meanwhile, Proposition 122 has garnered 51.4% approval with 89% of the vote verified and appears to be headed to passage.
Prop. FF will now increase the tax burden on higher incomes through deductions to create and fund the Healthy School Meals for All Program.
The program will support school districts that choose to offer free school meals to all students regardless of income. The Colorado Education Association (CEA), a membership-based organization that represents 39,000 Colorado educators, supported the free school meals program and saw the midterm results as a victory for education.
“Colorado voters have spoken: Public education is a central priority for our state,” said Amie Baca-Oehlert, High School Counselor and President of the CEA. “It’s clear that the vast majority of Coloradans not only support public schools, but understand that one of the best ways to show that support is by voting their pro-public school values in every election.”
Prop. 122, or the Natural Medicine Health Act (NMHA), will legalize certain psychedelic plants and fungi as natural medicine for personal use, possession, growth, and transport for individuals 21 and older.
Colorado joins Oregon in legalizing the substances for treatment and consumption statewide. Washington DC and 4 states—Washington, California, Michigan, and Massachusetts—have legalized psychedelic mushrooms only in certain municipalities.
Compounds like dimethyltryptamine, ibogaine, mescaline (excluding peyote), psilocybin, and psilocin will be decriminalized.
The Colorado Medical Society opposes the measure, citing lack of sufficient evidence on the effectiveness and safety of psychedelic-based treatments.
Proponents say psychedelics have proven to help people struggling with anxiety, depression, trauma, and other challenging mental health issues. One study shows that psilocybin administered with supportive psychotherapy, as proposed in the ballot measure, produced rapid and large reductions in depressive symptoms in patients.
“In over two decades as a psychiatrist working with people with severe PTSD and depression, it’s obvious that our currently approved treatments for serious mental health conditions are inadequate answers for too many folks,” said Will Van Derveer, MD, Medical Director of the Integrative Psychiatry Center in Boulder.
“The medical evidence is growing for robust effectiveness of psilocybin for depression, trauma, addiction, and various forms of anxiety. And psilocybin’s safety record is superb. Although medical research is underway and necessary to confirm these exciting preliminary studies medical applications of psychedelic plant medicines, but the miniscule risks of harm do not merit denying access to people in serious need of alternative treatments.”
Should the measure pass, a state program under the direction of the Department of Regulatory Agencies would regulate licensed healing centers to administer use of psychedelics for various health and healing benefits. Drug decriminalization advocates say removing the stigma from drug use should help in studying the benefits of drug-based therapies.
“We’re going to have to overcome a lot of stigma around those substances in order to implement them in any therapeutic context,” Aaron Ferguson of the Urban Survivors Union, a national harm reduction organization, told State of Reform. “I know this from just from methadone, for instance, which is not even a drug that’s been criminalized as much as it’s just been associated with another criminalized drug or people who use another criminalized drug.
It’s really encouraging that those substances are breaking their way into healthcare settings and research, that we can even examine them because previously, we have scheduled substances you can’t conduct an above board study on how could we ever know the medical benefits or lack thereof, whatever it is, we need to open these things up to the lens of science.”