Legal Psilocybin Edibles Could Be Coming to Colorado | Westword

Legal Psilocybin Edibles Could Be Coming to Colorado

There are some catches, but state regulators are open to the idea.
Psilocybin-infused food or drinks similar to cannabis edibles are popular among underground recreational users.
Psilocybin-infused food or drinks similar to cannabis edibles are popular among underground recreational users. Flickr/Artizone
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Magic mushroom chocolates, gummies, tea and other psilocybin edibles could be legally available in Colorado by late 2024 or early 2025, according to the state Department of Revenue's new Natural Medicine Division.

The NMD was created by Senate Bill 23-290, a law enacted by the state legislature this past session after voters approved Proposition 122, the 2022 initiative that legalized medical psilocybin while also decriminalizing the recreational cultivation and possession of psilocybin, DMT, ibogaine and mescaline. Applications for medical psilocybin facilitators and businesses could begin as soon as next year, while DMT, ibogaine and mescaline will be evaluated by the state Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) for potential medical legalization down the road.

In the meantime, both the DOR and DORA are currently crafting suggested frameworks for medical psilocybin use, with DORA tasked with licensing facilitation clinics and individuals. Already experienced with regulating Colorado's medical and recreational cannabis industries, DOR and its newly created NMD will handle cultivations, manufacturers and laboratory testing facilities.

Neither Prop 122 nor SB 290 allow for psilocybin dispensaries or a commercial recreational market, with all regulated consumption required to take place in a licensed and supervised setting. And psilocybin-infused food or drinks similar to cannabis edibles will likely be allowed, according to a discussion during the NMD's October 3 session.

"We do anticipate interest in natural medicine edibles," NMD senior director Dominique Mendiola said during the meeting, adding that products with smaller doses of psilocybin intended for microdosing are also part of the conversation. But there are some catches.

For starters, the NMD still needs to figure out which products and production methods would be allowed. The details surrounding packaging, serving size, product testing and facility requirements haven't yet been drafted, while one provision in SB 290 bans synthetic-based extractions, which are commonly used in the cannabis industry to make the bulk of infused products.
click to enlarge A chocolate ice cream cone infused with psilocybin mushrooms
Edibles with psilocybin extract range from chocolates and gummies to drinks and frozen goods.
Natural extraction methods are achievable and gaining popularity in commercial cannabis, though, and psilocybin product manufacturers can employ similar methods, according to neuroscientist Gabe Treviño.

"They're more and more prevalent on the market. I don't know if that falls under, you know, synthetic derivative — but I hear people grow the psilocybin naturally and then bake it into chocolate, and it gets all the same pretty packaging that you see in the cannabis market and shows up in virtual marketplaces as well as in-person marketplaces," Treviño said during the hearing. "How do we test it? How do we make sure there are not contaminants in it? I don't have the answers to any of that, but I just wanted to put that on the radar."

Underground psilocybin edibles can be found for sale on social media and other corners of the internet, especially in Colorado, where psychedelic reform has emboldened illegal market activity.

But in Colorado, making psilocybin edibles at home is now legal for adults ages 21 and older, as long as the products aren't for sale or given to minors. A handful of licensed cannabis testing labs have already begun testing psilocybin mushrooms and infused products, providing some valuable information for home cooks in the process.

"Chocolate bars and gummies are the most popular kind of edibles that we've been seeing out there, as well as tinctures and tea — but depending on the process and temperatures used, and whether or not there are preservatives, that potency can rapidly degrade," Noah Novello explained.

Owner of Colorado cannabis lab Friday Ventures, Novello has been expanding the lab's offering to include psilocybin. According to Novello, the potency of extracted psilocybin can degrade quickly when in powder form or after interacting with water, both of which are necessities for magic mushroom tea. Based on his experiences with cannabis testing, Novello sees future complications with psilocybin edibles distribution.

"I know the compliance testing process sometimes can take at least a week, and in that amount of time the potency of water-based psilocybin products can diminish by half or 100 percent," he added. "The stability of some of these products is not at all like cannabis, and they can very much degrade into absolutely nothing that's psychoactive within a few hours, within a few days or weeks, depending on the process and the temperatures and the other ingredients in the product."

Suggestions to counteract psilocybin degradation in tea include a kit for production, with the user or facilitator responsible for brewing.

Other commercial challenges that the NMD still has to tackle include advertising limits and restrictions for psilocybin, which is still illegal at the federal level, as well as business ownership requirements and potential statewide caps on certain psychedelic business licenses; communication with law enforcement to ensure that legal operators aren't detained or unfairly disciplined has also been discussed.

Colorado currently bans a single individual from owning a financial interest in more than five psilocybin business licenses, but will likely abstain from adding any in-state residency requirements for business owners, according to Mendiola and the Colorado Attorney General's Office.

The NMD has held previous conversations surrounding SB 290's implementation, first responder training, public education and natural medicine lab testing, and is currently planning more stakeholder sessions for the month of November.
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