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Colorado Voters Pass Proposition to Allow Regulated Use of Psychedelic Mushrooms

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On November 8, 2022, voters in Colorado passed a ballot initiative to decriminalize possession of and legalize limited use of psychedelic mushrooms and other plant- and fungi-derived psychedelic drugs by those 21 years of age or older. The passage makes Colorado, which was one of the first states to legalize recreational marijuana, the second state to allow the use of psychedelics behind Oregon.

Proposition 122, or the “Natural Medicine Health Act of 2022,” passed with 53 percent of Colorado voters supporting the initiative to 47 percent who voted against, according to the unofficial results released by Colorado’s secretary of state.

The measure will decriminalize psychedelic mushrooms and by 2024 will allow the supervised use of two of the drugs found in the mushrooms, psilocybin and psilocin, at state-regulated “healing centers” by 2024. The initiative further establishes the “Natural Medicine Advisory Board” to explore and evaluate ongoing research into psychedelic drugs and their potential health benefits and make recommendations to the legislature and other state entities.

The initiative comes amid growing scientific research on the potential medical benefits of psychedelic drugs in treating mental health conditions, particularly depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Impact for Employers

The passage of Proposition 122 could increase employers concerns with employees working under the influence of these drugs. Thus, the proposition may be an impetus for employers to review and revise their drug testing and drug-free workplace policies. The Natural Medicine Health Act states that it should not be construed “to require an employer to permit or accommodate the use, consumption, possession, transfer, display, transportation, or growing of natural medicines in the workplace.” This may allow employers to continue to enforce zero-tolerance policies regarding the use of psychedelics. For comparison, Colorado law does not require employers to accommodate the use of marijuana in the workplace and the Colorado Supreme Court has held that employees are not protected from discharge by the state’s employment law protections for lawful, off-duty conduct due to marijuana’s continued illegal status under federal law.

Ogletree Deakins will continue to monitor developments with respect to drug legalization initiatives and will post updates on the Drug Testing and State Developments blogs as additional information becomes available. Important information for employers is also available via the firm’s webinar and podcast programs.



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My Personal Ketamine Experience: Part 1 – The First Infusion

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Ketamine might be all the rage these days when it comes to treating psychological issues, but the reality of these treatments is not often written about, and personal experiences are hard to find. Mostly you’ll just find promotional articles and a few studies. Of course, realities don’t always meet the hype, and perhaps one of the biggest lessons to learn about ketamine therapy, is that it will not work for everyone, and results can vary. It’s important for prospective patients to understand the different possibilities when going in for treatment. This article is my own highly personal experience of my first ketamine infusion.

First off, a little about me

One of the hardest things to do in life is be open about a psychological issue, and its probably for this reason that personal accounts of ketamine therapy are few and far between. Not many people want to actually talk about what drove them to seek treatment in the first place. And while I often consider myself a private person, I think there are times when it’s good to open up for the good of others and public knowledge in general. And for that reason I will tell you a little about me. At least enough to know how I ended up in a ketamine clinic.

I am a child of psychological and physical abuse, as many of us are. My problems are not hard to come by in the general public, and there are plenty of people that can relate. I grew up in a very tense environment, which led to an array of anxiety-related issues, the biggest one regarding my ability to sleep. I am considered an intractable insomniac. I do not respond to regular medications. This can be expanded to anxiety as a whole, though the largest issue I deal with on a consistent basis, is the ability for sleep. As ketamine is looked into for insomnia issues, it is indeed a reason for prescription, along with the underlying anxiety issues that cause it.

You will see different words used to explain this concept of non-response to treatments. ‘Treatment-resistant’ is the most well understood, but you will also see it as ‘intractable’ or ‘refractory.’ All of these words when used with a diagnosis next to them, mean ‘it ain’t responding to anything.’ This is far more common than many realize. Sometimes it’s hard to know that because these aren’t pleasant subjects to speak about, and many people won’t.


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A large part of the ketamine industry is based around the idea that it can possibly help those, that aren’t helped by other treatments or medications. However, it’s also available simply as an alternate treatment for those who don’t like conventional medications. I fit into both categories. I’ve been through the ringer enough in life to know I am unresponsive, but I’m also not a huge fan of the conventional pills that get doled out. I prefer alternative therapies that don’t involve standard medications.

A last point to make about my situation, is that I did not go to a clinic in America, I went to a doctor in Mexico. I am told he is one of only 15 in the country that currently provides this treatment, so its not the set-up industry it now is in the States. However, the doctor I found has been providing such treatments for two years, mostly for pain, but for other issues like mine as well.

The infusion, and the basics of what to expect

I cannot say how this goes in a clinic specifically geared toward these treatments. I can only give my experience of going to a psychiatrist where I am, who provides the treatment. There is less protocol available, and it was my decision originally to undergo an initial six treatments, as it tends to be done in the more set-up industry in America. I was provided very little information on what to expect, or the possible outcomes.

There are different ways to receive ketamine treatment. It can be injected into a muscle (IM), given as a nasal spray (esketamine), provided as a sublingual tab, given as a pill, or the original way, by infusion (IV). I did the infusion. That means I had an IV hooked up to my arm for somewhere between 45 minutes and one hour. For people that don’t like IVs or needles in general, this is probably not the best option, and the other forms of ingestion might be more desirable. This was the only mode of delivery offered to me.

It is administered by weight, but this is less precise than many articles make it sound, or at least it was in my situation. I gave my approximate weight, and an anesthesiologist, whose job it is to be able to eyeball such things, set the dosage for my weight. In my case, I wasn’t actually weighed. I was okay with this, but if you feel better with more precise measurements, make them weigh you. I was given standard racemic ketamine. That just means it was regular ketamine, and not esketamine or arketamine, which make up the two halves of the molecule.

I sat on a couch in a semi-comfortable office with no outside view. A private office within a bigger hospital. I had an IV stuck in my left hand. As my veins are a little narrow, this meant a bruised hand for the next several days. My second treatment was done in my arm for this reason. The doctor asked my music preferences, I said classical was fine, and classical music was put on.

First infusion – my experience

I cannot say the exact dose I was given, but I can say how it felt. I can also say that because I had anxiety over an IV infusion (never had anything like this before), I was given a small amount of xanax beforehand. There is debate in the ketamine therapy world as to whether benzodiazepines can hinder the experience, and honestly, I can’t answer that, and neither can my doctor. I can only say I did have a small amount in my system because of the fear of being hooked up to an IV. Those like me who haven’t undergone many (or any) medical treatments in life might understand the anxiety.

I didn’t spin out, or hallucinate wildly. The idea of ketamine treatment is to use sub-anesthetic doses. As in, you won’t end up in a ‘k-hole‘. I had an experience less often written about. The ketamine produced an anxiety in me, referred to online as ‘ketamine-induced anxiety.’ The issue with new industries is that they get hyped by only the success stories, and the realities of all the possibilities are often left out.

My doctor never mentioned this term, and I had to look into it myself. This is a negative perhaps of going to a doctor in a less set-up industry, where less background information is made available. When it comes to ketamine treatments, non-responders, or negative-responders are actually a large group, and this makes sense. Barely anything in life works for everyone, as we are all so physiologically different. My response is therefore not uncommon, though it isn’t often spoken of yet, probably because it’s not the desired outcome. But, again, its still common, and that makes it important to know about for anyone seeking treatment.

It wasn’t all-out bad though. I certainly felt spacey, and sort of out-there, though I did not hallucinate, or lose track of reality. As an example of my body’s desire to fend off treatments, I actually felt it in waves, which is the opposite of how it should feel when hooked up to an IV. The doctor did what isn’t often done in these treatments (and is more well known for psychedelic treatments) and talked me through it, partly to keep my mind off the anxiety. We went over childhood issues, and patterns of response. He gave me some interesting insights.

When the infusion was over I calmed down partially when the IV was taken out, indicating this method of ingestion is probably not the right one for me. As I calmed down in the following 20 minutes or so, a sick, nauseous feeling crept in. Ketamine is known for this, it doesn’t seem to mean anything in terms of whether the treatment will work, and is a side effect of the medication.

For the next 24 hours or so, I can honestly say I didn’t care about a lot of the things that had been troubling me. I was able to put things on hold that I had not been able to before. I didn’t have a desire to check my phone, or a need to get back to people urgently. It was actually a good feeling, though it was undermined a bit by the sick feeling that persisted, and a general heaviness.

Ketamine first infusion
Ketamine first infusion

Truth is, this is common too, and can go on even into the next day, as it did for me. Also something not explained by my doctor. The following day it was more a tired feeling, and the good effects wore off throughout the day. While I was able to get more sleep the first night, that was the only night this was true of that first treatment.

I cannot say I felt a response past that point, but this is also common of ketamine treatments. It’s sometimes described online as planting a flower and tending to it over several sessions, without expecting full results right away. So, I was optimistic. I did feel something temporarily, it really did feel like a possible start. I scheduled my second infusion for four days later.

Conclusion

This article relates to my own personal experience with ketamine treatments. It is not generalizable to the entire population, and is meant to help those looking into this treatment, to know some of the possible things to expect. Everyone that tries treatment will have their own experience. Some will not sound like mine. Read the next installment to find out more about my second infusion.

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Colorado is 2nd State to Legalize Psychedelics: Voted in By the People

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Mid term elections came and went, and they certainly changed the landscape in terms of drugs. Not only did Maryland and Missouri pass cannabis legalization measures for recreational use; Colorado also made a big move when it became the second state to legalize psychedelics by allowing entheogenic plants. What does this mean for the state?

How did the vote go?

Mid term elections aren’t always exciting, particularly because they’re not for presidential candidates. But that doesn’t mean exciting things can’t happen, and Colorado is a great example of this. This year, while five states allowed residents to vote on recreational cannabis legalization measures, Colorado did it a bit more like Oregon, putting it to their people to choose if they wanted to legalize some psychedelics.

And the people said yes! Coloradoans had Proposition 122 put before them, the Decriminalization and Regulated Access Program for Certain Psychedelic Plants and Fungi Initiative. The winning yes vote came from a massive 91.46% of the voting population (you read that right), which was comprised of 1,296,994 votes. The no end accounted for a mere 8.54% of the voting population, with 121,111 votes. To say Colorado really wanted legal psychedelics, is practically an understatement.


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So what does this Proposition 122 do? The newly passed Colorado measure works to define specific plants containing psychedelics, as natural medicines. These include dimethyltryptamine (DMT); ibogaine; mescaline (but not the peyote plant, which is technically already covered federally under the American Indian Religious Freedom Act, while the other mescaline-containing plants were never federally illegalized, making for a loophole); and psilocybin; and psilocyn, the compounds found in magic mushrooms.

It also decriminalizes the personal possession, use, transport, and cultivation of these plants, so long as the person is 21 or older. Along with this, it creates the Regulated Natural Medicine Access Program which will be used to open an industry of licensed healing centers where such medications can be administered as a part of natural medicine services.

How does this differ from Oregon?

Colorado is not the 1st state to pass a law to legalize psychedelics. In fact, its technically the 2nd state to pass a recreational legalization, and the 3rd state to offer some form of access measure. The most well-known, is the first to do it, Oregon. In the 2020 elections, Oregon also put it to its people to decide if they wanted to specifically legalize psilocybin mushrooms.

In November 2020, 55.75% of the voting population gave a yes vote to Measure 109: Psilocybin Mushroom Services Program Initiative. That equaled 1,270,057 votes. 44.25% of the voting population voted no to the measure, comprised of 1,008,199 votes. This measure came with far less specifics than the Colorado measure, and there was uncertainty for many months over what kind of a legalization it was, and if it counted more as medical. In 2022, Oregon released its first draft rules for the industry, making a few things clear.

According to these rules, not only does this only relate to magic mushrooms, but only one kind of magic mushroom applies: Psilocybe cubensis. Meaning once its not this particular magic mushroom, the legalization no longer holds. But it also doesn’t apply to some other important things. Like personal possession, or the ability to self-cultivate the mushrooms. Oregon only went as far as to legalize use of the mushrooms in approved centers, under the eye of trained, but not medical, tripsitters. Everything outside of this specific scenario, is not legal.

Colorado and its move to legalize psychedelics is much wider-reaching. It involves many different plants with psychedelic compounds, it allows the personal possession of the plants, and the personal cultivation of them. Though it will set up centers for use, it doesn’t disallow the personal use of the substances outside of this. As it relates specifically to plants containing psychedelic compounds, it excludes psychedelics like LSD and MDMA, which are synthetically-made, and do not appear in nature.

But didn’t Colorado already legalize MDMA?

Yes, Colorado has been on a rampage. Not only was Denver the first city in the US to pass a decriminalization measure for psychedelics in 2019, but in 2022, Colorado passed HB 1344, which was officially signed off on in June of this year, after essentially racing through the state’s congress at nearly unprecedented speeds.

HB 1344 is an interesting bill. It doesn’t exactly legalize MDMA, because it’s not federally legal yet. What it does is work as a pre-emptive legalization. As in, the second the US passes a federal legalization, Colorado is already ready to go with laws set up to govern the use of the drug in the state. This means, should it not get a federal pass, HB 1344 is useless. It goes into action only upon the federal passage.

Colorado legalizes MDMA for pilot program
Colorado legalizes MDMA for pilot program

How likely is this federal passage? Very likely. When the FDA gives ‘breakthrough therapy’ status to the medication a company is working on, a status meant to quicken a drug to market in the case of it being a new therapy that can offer benefits that existing therapies don’t offer; it means a government agency is literally pushing for it to happen. And such is the case for both MDMA and psilocybin on a federal level.

In the case of MDMA, the company leading the charge is MAPS (Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies), which not only has this breakthrough therapy status, but which organized its Phase III trials directly with the FDA to ensure that results meet regulation. It would be short-sighted to believe that a legalization isn’t coming, especially considering how well the trials have been going for the treatment of PTSD.

But wait…Connecticut gives access to psychedelics too, right?

If you’re paying attention, I said Colorado is actually the 3rd state to pass some form of a legalization measure. Oregon was first, and as it turns out, Connecticut was second, though with a different kind of measure, which isn’t considered an outright legalization. It’s also strictly for medical use.

Connecticut passed Bill No. 5506, which actually makes use of an existent federal pilot program, that is unfortunately, not often accessed. The federal program is the FDA’s expanded access program, which allows the use of drugs that have not been approved yet and are still under investigation. The point of the program is to allow patients in dire need, to access medications that have made it at least through Phase I, with the thought being that dire circumstances allow for dire measures to be taken.

Connecticut’s bill really just accesses this program through its own pilot program, and is meant to begin in the state in 2023. Once the compounds it allows are officially approved by the federal government, the pilot program ends, and the new legalization measures take over. The Connecticut bill specifically allows for the access of yet-unapproved psilocybin and MDMA medications.

This pilot program will allow access solely on a medical level, which is different from both Oregon and Colorado. It comes with absolutely no recreational aspects, and does nothing to allow for personal possession, use, or cultivation. What it does do, is reinforce the usefulness of both psilocybin and MDMA in treating different disorders, and works to start getting access to these compounds, to patients in need.

Moving forward

The psychedelics boom is happening very quickly. Way more quickly than the cannabis boom, which realistically paved the way of the former. Had we not gotten the country acclimated to marijuana, it probably would’ve been harder to push for psychedelics. But with weed now legal in just about half the country, psychedelics are sliding by much faster, and more easily.

Besides the three states just mentioned which have some measure in place, there are plenty of other states that have been/are considering full-state legalizations (California, Washington, Michigan), and a multitude of locations that have decriminalized use. These include: San Francisco, Oakland, Santa Cruz, and Arcata, in California; as well as Denver, Colorado; Ann Arbor, Washtenaw County, and Detroit, in Michigan; Washington, DC; Somerville, Cambridge, Northampton, and Easthampton, Massachusetts; and Seattle, Washington.

Should we expect more? You better believe it. Which one will be next, and how long it may take, are undetermined, but the trend is in place, and we know from watching cannabis, that the snowball becomes an avalanche. States where legislation was recently introduced include New Jersey with its Psilocybin Behavioral Health Access and Services Act; California with its SB-519 to decriminalize several compounds and open facilitated use centers; Oklahoma which introduced HB 3414 to study psilocybin and give access to patients in need; and Hawaii, which passed SB No 3160 to create a task force to implement psilocybin medications for adults medically.

Conclusion

Colorado shows that the push to legalize psychedelics didn’t end with Oregon, and that we can expect way more. It also shows the progression already in motion for these laws, as it offers a much wider legalization than its predecessor. It will be interesting to see what happens next in this world.

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Lawyer.. “Police will keep raiding Toronto magic mushroom dispensary if city doesn’t step up”

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The city says it has no plans to use its powers to shut down Toronto’s only magic mushroom dispensary after a Toronto police raid earlier this month, leaving the shop still operating in a kind of grey area.

Shroomyz — a dispensary chain that first opened in Ottawa — became Toronto’s first mushroom dispensary after opening this September. While the sale of psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, is illegal under the Controlled Drug and Substances Act, that hasn’t stopped the store from operating out of its Queen Street West location.

Toronto previously saw a situation like this pop up — though with more city interventions — when cannabis retailers rapidly expanded in the region before pot was legalized in 2018. Now, this shop is operating in a similar sort of way, filling a void advocates say is sorely needed, though one expert cautions this can come with risk for the public.

Paul Lewin, a lawyer who specializes in issues surrounding cannabis and psychedelics, said he wasn’t surprised Shroomyz had opened in the city, given the current limited access to psilocybin for people who need it for medicinal purposes. He told CBC News he also thought a crackdown on the dispensary would eventually happen.

“There’s a general sense that the law is out of touch,” Lewin said.

“Many patients who would benefit from medical psilocybin cannot get access and this tends to happen when there’s a substance that does a lot of good and the government is making it very difficult to access it,” he added.

“Others will spring up and fill the void.”

While Shroomyz may be the only known psilocybin retail store in the city, signs promoting anonymous online businesses selling magic mushrooms can also be found across Toronto.

Paul Lewin, a Toronto lawyer who specializes in issues surrounding cannabis and psychedelics, says the city’s only magic mushroom dispensary is ‘filling a void’ for people who use the substance for medicinal purposes. (Radio-Canada)

While the City of Toronto previously enforced bylaws on illegal cannabis dispensaries before it was legalized in 2018, it has taken a hands-off approach in enforcing any bylaws in this case. The city confirmed Shroomyz has no business licence, but said any crackdown on its operations would be a “police matter.”

“The City of Toronto does not have the jurisdiction to enforce the Controlled Drug and Substances Act nor is a business licence issued for this type of business,” said Naomi Ahmad, a city spokesperson, in a statement to CBC Toronto.

“The city issues business licences and permits to certain businesses as specified in the licensing bylaw.”

Read more

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/shroomyz-toronto-dispensary-magic-mushrooms-1.6661739



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