Why I Oppose Colorado SB23-290: A Psychedelic Educator’s Perspective

I am writing to share with you the testimony I gave to the Colorado Senate Finance Committee on April 20, 2023. I was there to advocate against SB23-290, a bill that would criminalize personal use and community healing. Unfortunately, our requests were not met by the committee. We need to keep fighting for natural medicine rights.

“Mr. Chair, members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to present to you today. My name is Ashley Ryan, representing myself, and I am here to oppose SB23-290 because it violates the spirit of Prop 122 and harms Coloradans.

I am a psychedelic educator, coach, and guide with a Master’s of science in Teaching and Learning from Colorado State University. I help people in my community safely and effectively use psilocybin mushrooms. I used to teach English in local public schools, but I quit due to stress and chronic illness. Psilocybin mushrooms helped me heal and find my calling. 122 passed by the voters of Colorado and is the law. I oppose this bill because it would take away my right to educate and guide others.

I use psilocybin mushrooms to improve my health and happiness, and help others do the same. Psilocybin mushrooms are very safe and effective. They have the highest safety profile of any psychedelic substance–safer than tobacco, alcohol, cannabis, even tylenol. One would need to eat at least 2 lbs of psilocybin mushrooms to achieve a lethal dose, and that isn’t physically possible.

I help mostly marginalized people who need alternative healing options. People like myself who could never afford $4,000 as is expected under the regulatory model in Oregon. But if this bill passes, I won’t be able to offer services anymore. This bill removes the protections in Prop 122 that permitted providers of “bona fide harm reduction services, bona fide therapy services, or other bona fide support services” to receive payment for their time and services. 

This bill is not about protecting public health or safety. It’s about controlling and exploiting natural medicine for profit.

I am an educator, not a healer. I teach people how to heal and they do all the work. Visual aids and hands-on learning methods enhance teaching by making concepts more clear and engaging. 

Under this bill, it would not be legal for me to teach using mushrooms. A person who openly and publicly consumes natural medicine or natural medicine product commits a drug petty offense. That would be like asking me to teach reading without any books.

We already have qualified Coloradans ready to Emerge! We have people like me and others, many of whom are already practicing therapists and medical professionals who will not go on record for fear of losing their licenses. We are the ones who deserve the opportunity to facilitate healing. This bill takes away our rights. 

This bill favors big corporations and wealthy out of state investors who want to profit from natural medicine. This bill ignores the will of the people of Colorado who voted to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms for personal use and community healing. This bill hurts our communities, and this bill would make me a criminal. 

Implementation for 122 was already funded in the budget. We have a Natural Medicine Advisory Board and well-qualified Coloradans offering bona fide therapy services. I ask you to vote No on this bill to remove the out of state corporatization of sacred medicine. 

Thank you. I am for your time and consideration. Please let me know if I can answer any questions.”

Published by Ashley Ryan, M.S.

Ashley is an educator and coach who earned her M.S. from Colorado State University.

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