DENVER (KDVR) — A bill was introduced in the state Capitol last week that, if passed, would be the first step into the medical field for a recently decriminalized plant used in the area of mental health.

On Jan. 21, Colorado State Rep. Alex Valdez and State Sen. Joann Ginal, both Democrats, introduced HB22-1116, a bill that, according to its own text, would establish “a policy review panel to study plant-based medicines to support mental health.” 

These plants could serve as natural alternatives to prescriptions used to treat mental health disorders. According to the proposed legislation, the definition of “plant-based medicine” is any naturally occurring hallucinogenic plant-based compound. If it were moved into law, the only eligible plants under that definition would be:

  • Psilocybin
  • Psilocyn
  • Dimethyltryptamine
  • Ibogaine

Where these ‘plant-based medicines’ are found

An ordinance was passed in May 2019 that decriminalized “magic mushrooms” in Denver. The naturally present psychedelic compound found within these mushrooms is psilocybin. The psychedelic substance found in some of these types of mushrooms, which number over 200, is psilocyn. This substance affects serotonin, the key hormone that affects mood, sleep, and digestion.

An animal study conducted in 2013 at the University of Southern Florida in Tampa Bay revealed that mice treated with psilocybin, while at the same time being extensively exposed to “unpleasant environmental cues,” began losing their fearful response to the stress-inducing cue quicker than the mice that did not receive the compound.

According to the Gulf Coast-based team, due to their findings, those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder could theoretically be treated with these mushrooms to help repair nerve cell regrowth in the area of the brain most heavily associated with emotion and memory retention.

Dimethyltryptamine, or DMT, is structurally similar to psilocybin, and according to the Alcohol and Drug Foundation, it can be found in certain types of animals and plants. The popular Peruvian brew ayahuasca has this as one of its ingredients and is used by some to help treat mental disorders. There are currently several active ayahuasca retreats in Colorado.

Ibogaine is a psychoactive substance that carries psychedelic properties and is used to help those addicted to opioids overcome their addictions. It can be found in an African plant that was used in spiritual ceremonies.

What’s next for Colorado HB22-1116?

The next appointment for the introduced legislation will land on Tuesday, Feb. 15, when the Public & Behavioral Health and Human Services Committee meets. It is currently the third piece of business on the docket, which will convene at 1:30 p.m.