Teller County Commissioners Signal Alarm Bell Over Pro-Psychedelic Substances Law

“One pill makes you larger, and one pill makes you small.  And the ones that mother gives you don’t do anything at all.  Go ask Alice when she’s ten feet tall.” Jefferson Airplane, White Rabbit 1967

By Rick Langenberg

“The devil is  in the details,” especially when it comes to a new voter-approved proposition, allowing legal access to psychedelic mushrooms and other strong drug-oriented substances, such as mescaline.

In the eyes of some, this new law has brought back memories of the hippie heyday of the 1960s with Haight Ashbury, the  Summer of Love and open drug fests.


Plus, concerns are still rampant about a touchy subject with government leaders these days: unfunded mandates.


During last week’s final meeting of the year, the Teller County Commissioners took another swat at new state laws and the potential for more fines and mandates.


Topping the latest list of concerns dealt with the new Proposition 122, the controversial ballot issue approved by Colorado voters, allowing for the supervised use of psychedelic mushrooms by adults and other plant-based natural psychedelic substances in licensed facilities.  It would even decriminalize the use, growth and sharing of many psychedelics, for those over 21. Besides psychedelic mushrooms, it could open the door for mescaline and ibogaine use, but wouldn’t permit the sale of these substances.


Proposition 122 won by a close vote statewide, as  Colorado joined Oregon in approving this measure. The victory of this measure, however, has prompted many question  marks.


Board Vice-chairman Erik Stone, who isn’t shy about voicing displeasure with state measures, expressed concerns with this proposition, and the potential impacts, during last week’s regular meeting.  “A lot of people didn’t know what they were voting on,” said Stone “It creates a black market.”


Moreover, he stated that the potential impacts “could be significant.” He mentioned the sharing potential with these dangerous substances as very concerning.


He didn’t get any disagreements from his peers on the commission board.


Local leaders are already reeling from the success of another local pro-drug citizens proposition, dealing with allowing the retail sale of  marijuana in Cripple Creek. The commissioners and Sheriff Jason Mikesell heavily objected to the marijuana ballot measure, approved by a 60 to 40 percent margin locally. It has led to a 180-day moratorium in the licensing of marijuana facilities in Cripple Creek, action finalized recently by the city council.


Proponents of the pro-psychedelic measure cite the health benefits for treating those with mental health woes with these substances. In many cases, they say these natural, plant-based substances can play a role in curing individuals of depression and other ailments.


Critics, though, question the evidence supporting this argument.


Some local leaders are also worried about the details and what type of care facilities could get authorized. Many elected officials agree with Stone in regards to the confusion over the ballot measure, and that voters didn’t exactly know the impacts of what they were approving. Stone said the problem with citizen-related propositions is that they are often poorly-written and raise more questions than answers.


The issue has definitely put Colorado on the map again as a progressive area regarding drug policies. Colorado was one of the first states to allow for recreational pot.


Some critics of the law have jokingly quipped that it may be time for proponents to dust off their old Jefferson Airplane and Grateful Dead albums and head back to Woodstock. Songs, such as White Rabbit by the Jefferson Airplane, which turned the children’s story of Alice in Wonderland into a drug trip, often became an anthem for a different pro-psychedelic perspective at the time.


Proposition 122 wasn’t the only concern voiced by the commissioners. At their final meeting of the year, Stone raised red flags over new internet accessibility standards, which could come with huge price tags for compliance for local governments.  Again, Stone said many new laws have come with good intentions, but are involving unpaid mandates.


Under one scenario requiring web site accessibility for disabled individuals, Stone mentioned thousands of dollars in fines, if some of these standards aren’t met.


In other action, last week’s forum served as a final good-by for clerk and recorder Krystal Brown, who has served for two-plus terms.  She was appointed during a time of much turmoil, when the office was under investigation by the state. Brown was credited for turning things around and running elections properly.


Brown heavily praised her staff in her final remarks.