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Denver wants your help developing policy for magic mushrooms

Public input wanted on magic mushrooms in Denver
Public input wanted on magic mushrooms in Denver 01:30

Colorado is in its psychedelic era.

In 2022, voters agreed to legalize psilocybin, known better to some as magic mushrooms. Since then, the state has been working on developing framework and regulations for using the psychedelic mushrooms under supervision. That work is still underway, even as the state is set to start accepting applications later this year for "natural healing centers," which would be staffed by so-called "facilitators" who would supervise psilocybin use.

John Bigley
Harvested home grows psilocybin mushrooms in Colorado Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post via Getty Images

It's what Courtneyrose Chung, founder and clinical director of My Denver Therapy, is hoping to do. She currently runs mental health support practices in Denver, Greenwood Village and Lone Tree.

"I kind of started it under the umbrella of trauma," said Chung. "We have licensed professional counselors, family therapists, social workers ... and a nurse practitioner, specifically for this new space we're entering into with the psychedelics."

One day soon, Chung wants to provide assisted psychotherapy with psilocybin.

"This particular drug can have a profound impact on people's brains in really as little as two sessions," Chung said. "Some research has been done on OCD, on treatment-resistant depression… anxiety, PTSD."

Now that Colorado is in the process of medicalizing mushrooms, Chung is another step closer to helping numerous patients she believes would benefit from the drug.

"Since this law was passed, we have had thousands of people email trying to see if it's available yet and if they can get in," she said.

However, as the state is still working on regulations, there are a lot of questions up in the air.

"The potential benefits of psilocybin," said Chung, "I don't think the greater public understands or they think, 'Oh, people are just tripping, and then something happens.'"

To help answer questions and determine the best next steps for licensure, the Denver Department of Excise and License is forming a workgroup. It will explore what policy and licensing laws should look like in the city, while the state-wide regulations are also being developed.

"I think a lot of citizens have questions, we as the city and as regulators have a lot of questions," Molly Duplechian, Executive Director of EXL, said. "This is brand new for Denver, and it's something that Denver can lead the way on. We're really only the second state in the nation that has done this, so we want to get it right, and make sure that we can set a good example just like we did for marijuana regulations."

It's called the Natural Medicine Work Group, and just about anybody is being asked to apply.

"We want to hear from people who've been in this space for several years and have that experience," explained Duplechian. "We want to hear from public health advocates, youth education advocates, youth protection advocates, and really just the community. If it's going to feel like it's going to impact them, we want to hear from them, what concerns they have and how we can mitigate those."

Chung said she is pleased Denver is taking this step. She also hopes the NMWG will also discuss how to better inform the public about psilocybins and what clinical practices like hers would offer.

"We are not in the business of just having people come in and get high and see what it's like. That's not therapeutic," Chung said. "To prioritize people who have truly tried everything and are just desperate for healing and for help because it could change their life, that is what we're in the business of. We want to help people get better."

Applications to serve on the NMWG are due by 5 p.m. Wednesday, March 13, 2024. To apply, complete this form

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