Why My Conscience Is Voting NO on Colorado Proposition 122: Access to Natural Psychedelics Substances (Blue Book Title)

“More Mushrooms, Less Patriarchy” is the rallying cry I displayed at Denver’s Womxn’s March. I’ve been reflecting heavily on whether 122 upholds this core belief. Psychedelics have the potential to create powerful personal and spiritual transformations. However, these drugs can also be used to exploit and control others. After repeated readings of 122, discussions with colleagues, and searching my heart, I’ve decided it does not measure up. I will be voting ‘NO’ this November.

In August, I spoke about psychedelic consent and abuse in the community and the potential for power abuse under 122. I shared my story about a “professional trip sitter” who unsuccessfully attempted to take advantage of my vulnerable state. Since then, I’ve had an outpouring of both women and men sharing their traumatizing stories of abuse in psychedelic spaces. The sexual violence rate in Colorado is already higher than the national average. 23.8% of women in Colorado have experienced sexual violence, compared to 18.3% nationally. The problem is so pervasive, Colorado House Bill 1169 adds the word ‘consent’ to the state’s statues in an effort to make sexual assault “uninviting” in Colorado. In a state where abuse of power is already running rampant, are we prepared to decriminalize multiple psychedelic drugs before the end of the year?

I believe the Personal Use section of (starting at the bottom of page 12)  which decriminalizes “PURCHASING, OBTAINING, OR INGESTING NATURAL MEDICINE FOR PERSONAL USE, OR GIVING AWAY NATURAL MEDICINE FOR PERSONAL USE” of magic mushrooms, as well as other psychedelics that include, “DIMETHYLTRYPTAMINE (DMT); IBOGAINE; MESCALINE” is too far too fast.

We need time and scientific research to safely and effectively harness the healing powers of these psychedelics. 

DMT is a psychedelic compound that occurs naturally in the brain and throughout nature.  When consumed, DMT can produce profound experiences that can completely transform a person’s worldview. DMT is found in Ayahuasca, a sacred psychedelic brew used by indigenous communities for centuries and shown beneficial in “treating addiction,  depression,  PTSD, and in catalyzing profound experiences of personal and spiritual growth.” Upon ratification by the governor, 122 will immediately decriminalize DMT for Colorado. Localities can not opt-out. This would include synthetic DMT which is consumed from a vape. Lasting only 15 minutes, this heavy hallucinogen takes the user on an out-of-body psychedelic ride. I’ve experienced this powerful drug; one hit left me unaware I had a body. What’s the potential for abuse of this powerful hallucinogen? According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, we don’t know.

These drugs are available on the black market. A medical doctor offered me a DMT vape pen at a party once. I declined because I’m a psychedelic educator and knew what would happen. I would completely disassociate from my body. Decriminalizing DMT will enable the underground drug trade to flourish. How does one tell the difference between a nicotine, cannabis, and a DMT vape pen? I’m not sure. Mess around and find out?

Ibogaine is another powerful psychedelic that is used in traditional spiritual ceremonies. It has gained popularity as a treatment for opioid addiction, and there is evidence that it can be effective in reducing the drug’s cravings. However, there are risks associated with ibogaine use, including cardiac arrest and death. Case studies from the National Library of Medicine highlight instances where death is the result of cardiovascular effects caused by ibogaine. According to a The Scientific African Society “these deaths may be a result of cardiac arrhythmias, caused by a dysregulation of the autonomic nervous system.” As someone who has struggled with dysregulation in the past, I will not be working with Ibogaine if decriminalized. 

Recent studies have shown that psilocybin (magic mushrooms) can help people overcome addiction, anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues. Psilocybin therapy is its infancy but shows great promise for the future of mental health treatments. We have data demonstrating its safe decriminalization in Denver, Colorado. 

Evidence supports legislation to further the reach of the Psilocybin Mushroom Initiative  which requires local law enforcement to treat the personal use and possession of psilocybin mushrooms as their lowest priority. In the legislation’s one-year review hearing, the Denver Psilocybin Mushroom Policy Review Panel noted that the panel unanimously declared that ‘decriminalization’ in Denver has not “created any significant public health or safety issue in the city.” 

If 122 does not pass, we should look to a community healing model recently passed in Hawaii. The legislation removes “psilocybin and psilocyn from the list of controlled substances and requires the Department of Health to establish designated treatment centers for the therapeutic administration of the psychedelics.” This bill would commission our local health agencies, not out-of-state corporations, with creating equitable and accessible models for psilocybin. The Hawaii model also creates a transparent review panel to study the impacts of the legislation. Why not add a review of other psychedelics in a few years when more data is available? Moving too far, too fast could compromise and discount promising research in the field of psychedelic medicine.

Too often, people vote without knowing what they’re voting for. They might not bother to read the bill, or they might only skim it, and as a result they may not understand all of the implications. This can lead to disastrous consequences.

If you’re a voter in Colorado, please take the time to read Proposition 122 thoroughly. Make sure you understand what it says and what it does.

No matter what happens on election day, I am dedicated to offering all bodies a safe space for psychedelic education, community, and healing. 

Published by Ashley Ryan, M.S.

Ashley, aka "The Naughty Professor," is a Sex and Psychedelics Coach who earned her M.S. from Colorado State University. She is also a somatic educator, certified Tantric wellness practitioner, and ordained minister. Ashley wrote “Let’s Talk About Sex on Magic Mushrooms: A Guide for Lovers” to help fill the world with more love and pleasure.

One thought on “Why My Conscience Is Voting NO on Colorado Proposition 122: Access to Natural Psychedelics Substances (Blue Book Title)

  1. Hi Ashley. Thank you for this blog article. As a budding mental health professional, ordained minister, and coach I agree that safety and avoiding poor public perceptions that might restrict research are paramount. I think you’ve convinced me to vote no on a topic that I’m otherwise pretty enthusiastic about. My own personal concern is that non-intentional, non-mystically oriented, non-healing-oriented use of these drugs will fail to provide the benefits we see on “How To Change Your Mind”. People don’t realize that 10,000 years of indigenous wisdom has shown us that the healing happens only in a very controlled environment in which safety and intentionality are promoted.

    The one place that I potentially differ from you is about my attitude towards dissociation. I think (and probably most of my field disagrees!) that it’s tremendously useful in therapy because it opens you to transpersonal experiences that are life-alteringly transformative. But once again dissociation is not something you can safely do at a party, as you mention.

    Safety is also something that people probably don’t understand well. Clearly your mention of sexual or physical abuse is a worst case. But healing cannot occur even with much more subtle forms of lack of safety, such as not being around people you trust, having a physically uncomfortable environment, or any situation that is triggering to past woundings or traumas. This is why having a licensed mental health professional or indigenous-trained mystic available during the process is critical. An impartial and caring view of the individual undergoing the psychedelic experience may be the only thing that can ensure that they are in as safe an environment as possible and at the same time, in the presence of someone who can intervene if something was missed, safety-wise.

    All the best,

    Eric.

    Like

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