Colorado Votes on Psilocybin – Josh Kappel – HPP 122

Josh Kappel

In today’s episode, we have the timely opportunity to discuss Colorado Proposition 122 with one of its co-authors, attorney Josh Kappel. The Natural Medicine Health Act of Colorado would create a pathway to legalize psilocybin therapy in Colorado, and contains some very interesting nuances that make this initiative revolutionary and distinct from other state initiatives. We’ll talk about what this means for therapists, practitioners, and other facilitators. Join us as we dig into the details with drug policy reform advocate and founding partner of Vicente Sederberg law firm, Josh Kappel.

Show Notes:

What You Need to Know About Proposition-122 – 2:22
Formerly known as Initiative 58. Yeah, officially called in the text of the measure, the National Medicine Health Act of Colorado, and now on the ballot as Prop 122. And this is the measure myself, along with others have been working on for quite some time, helping to draft it with this goal, like how do we create access in Colorado for just psychedelic-assisted therapy for any adult who needs it?

Making The World A Bit Better – 8:23
But I’ve had a personal relationship with different actual psychedelics for quite some time, and it sort of put me on sort of a path of like, wanting to make the world a better place. And I sort of found my home and doing that in drug policy. Yeah, and so for the last 18 to 20 years I’ve been engaged in different forms of drug policy, like how do we end the war on drugs? How do we have a public health approach to substance use?

Who Benefits From This New Bill? – 31:18
I think people are generally suspect of your what’s going on here? And this has been something you know, it’s like one of the drafters and that I really dove into, you know, we were debating for a long time of, should we create healing, we may need that healing centers will only be nonprofit businesses. You know, we debated that internally, we talked to others and sort of this conscious capital community.

Meeting People Where They Are – 42:04
I think it’s, you know, it’s like, meeting different people where they are, you know, it’s like my mom would 100% want this to be covered by insurance to be approved by the FDA, you know, whereas, you know, other folks will never want to step foot in any sort of clinical setting, and they’re on this in a very, like, natural, sort of spiritually focused setting.

Full Episode Transcript


Dr. Will Van Derveer, Joshua Kappel


Joshua Kappel  00:00

Yeah, I’ve had a personal relationship with different national psychedelics for quite some time. And it sort of put me on sort of a path of like wanting to make the world a better place. And I sort of found my home and doing that in Dropbox.


Dr. Will Van Derveer  00:17

Thank you for joining us for the Higher Practice Podcast. I’m Dr. Wil Van Derveer with Keith Kurlander, and this is the podcast where we explore what it takes to achieve optimal mental health. On today’s episode, we dig into a ballot initiative that Colorado voters will decide about on November 8 2022, which is called the Natural Medicines Health Act, aka Proposition 122. And we’re delighted to have as our guest, one of the authors of this proposition, Josh Kappel, who is an attorney in Denver, Colorado. Josh has been involved in drug policy reform for over a decade, using his law training to affect change. He is a founding partner of Vicente Sederberg law firm with a passion for helping entrepreneurs and visionaries build human centric and regenerative companies in the psychedelic and cannabis industries. Passionate about policy, Josh also loves helping advocates, draft legislation and building sustainable vehicles that will forever influence these emerging industries. Hi, Joshua, welcome to the show.


Joshua Kappel  01:32

Hey, Will, thanks for having me.


Dr. Will Van Derveer  01:34

Great to have you. Yeah, I’m really excited to talk with you about this new development in Colorado, and what’s happening. We have a big moment in Colorado history coming up, not even a month from now. It’s coming quick.


Joshua Kappel  01:50

Yeah, that’s right. November 8 will be a huge day in Colorado, and really around the country for psychedelic reform and access to psychedelic therapy with the voting on Prop 122.


Dr. Will Van Derveer  02:03

Yeah. So, some people in the audience might remember a different name, Initiative 58 or Prop 58. Anyway, we’re talking about the ballot measure that’s now called Proposition 122, that’s on the ballot in Colorado in November. Well, tell us about what it would do, Josh?


Joshua Kappel  02:22

Yeah, you’re absolutely right. Formerly known as Initiative 58. Yeah, officially called in the text of the measure, the National Medicine Health Act of Colorado, and now on the ballot as Prop 122. And this is the measure myself, along with others have been working on for quite some time, helping to draft it with this goal, like how do we create access in Colorado for just psychedelic-assisted therapy for any adult who needs it? And that’s sort of the impetus behind it, and your big picture of what it does, sort of dive into the details. But the way I like to look as there’s two main things, it provides access by creating a regulated model, do psychedelic assisted therapy, or really just a psychedelic services in general can be therapeutic or it can be self-growth through spiritual. Through this brilliant model, there were license healing centers, and then my sense facilitator, so there’ll be a whole new sort of facilitator profession created in Colorado under DORA for this national psychedelic medicine facilitator. We’re going to unpack that more, I think that’s one piece. There’s this public facing regulated, lots of guardrails model for supervised psychedelic use, there’s no sales a lot. And then on the other side is it removes criminal penalties for the personal use of natural psychedelic medicines. It allows an individual under the age of 21 to possess it, to grow it, to process it, and to share, you know, like amongst their community, like a non-commercial sense. Then this is sort of like really key for some of the communities and the indigenous communities that are out there. So that I asked the circles that are out there is to create a path that doesn’t involve government regulationbut still limits as protects what has been happening in Colorado for decades. Those are like the two main pieces of Prop 122. Actually, there is a 30, because worth mentioning, you know, there’s a lot of civil rights built. Yeah, there’s civil rights that protect the individual, or a facilitator who’s engaging in natural medicine services, protects them around-child rearing, you know, just like a child custody, battle of protective medical care. Protects that around, if someone was on probation and parole, they can’t be forced back to jail because they’re engaging national medicines. There’s also some protections around like the police aren’t using natural medicines as a basis to search the rest of your house. But the big piece of other civil rights, I like the medical care. We saw a lot with cannabis for folks who’ve been denied like organ transplants because they would admit to using cannabis. So kind of defeated the purpose a little bit for not having these, like civil protections in there.


Dr. Will Van Derveer  05:14

Wow. And also, in addition to those protections you mentioned, it looked like when I read the bill, that they were also protections that the proposition, it’s not a bill yet, right, until it gets voted on. Is that how it works? Is that the language?


Joshua Kappel  05:30

Yes, it’s a great point. It’s a statutory proposition right now.


Dr. Will Van Derveer  05:34

Okay, the proposition.


Joshua Kappel  05:34

Yes. If it passes with 50.1% of the vote, or 50% plus one, it’ll become a statutory machine, which will leave it open to be changed by the legislators. I think it’s a very key piece of this puzzle. And then a lot of the rules of how this works will be like made by DORA, the Department of Regulatory Agencies.


Dr. Will Van Derveer  05:57

Right. So, the stage we’re at is proposition. It’s going to general public voting on the ballot in November voting in Colorado. And going back to what you were saying about civil rights protections, it looks like it also covers licensed individuals. For example, physicians, nurses, in the medical field, even someone who wants to get involved with natural medicines for their own use, that this would confer protections against, let’s say, more complaints, or some kind of, tell us about that in terms of licenses.


Joshua Kappel  06:34

Correct. There’s also a provision that prohibits your any adverse action related to any state based license. This is a state based license in Colorado, for an individual who engages in the personal use of national medicines, or provide national medicines services under the regulated program. As imagined right now is it protect doctors and physicians at the state level, but also therapists, attorneys. I mean, really, anyone who’s licensed by the state that they’re in the state can’t use the fact you’re engaging in the personal use national medicines, or providing national medicine services as a reason to take away your license. Now, with that said, it doesn’t mean there’s a fine balance, that also doesn’t mean the doors wide open, there’s still sort of professional standards if someone’s engaging in the national, or in the use of natural medicines in a way that’s putting others in danger. Like, yeah, there could still be some licensing actions. But I think part of that here is just a broad-based protection of the figure out what exactly that means, but it is a key piece for a lot of professionals. And this hopefully should allow both psychotherapists, both physicians or any physicians get to participate, but individually and professionally.


Dr. Will Van Derveer  07:58

Right. Yeah. And so, I’m so curious, first of all, how you got interested in this work in the first place? It seems like this goes back a while for you in your law career. You’ve been working on decrim efforts in kind of advocacy around access to natural medicines and psychedelics generally for a while. Is that right? Tell us about it.


Joshua Kappel  08:23

No, for sure. Well, it really depends on how far back you want to go. But I’ve had a personal relationship with different actual psychedelics for quite some time, and it sort of put me on sort of a path of like, wanting to make the world a better place. And I sort of found my home and doing that in drug policy. Yeah, and so for the last 18 to 20 years I’ve been engaged in different forms of drug policy, like how do we end the war on drugs? How do we have a public health approach to substance use? For a whole host of reasons, both on one hand is the social justice like needing to stop you in this very like racist drug war. And on the other hand, freedom of cognitive liberty, allowing people agency over their own mind and their own consciousness to sort of like, engage in and grounded in a man that works for them. And so, I started really professionally in this space. We started a law firm, the Vicente Sederberg with this goal of how do we sort of leverage capitalism to end cannabis prohibition. And we drafted a lot of laws, we’ve drafted Amendment 64 in Colorado, but we’re also part of the measure to sort of decriminalizing for medical cannabis, you know, creating a licensed medical cannabis system in Colorado, then eventually, around the country. It’s been really good. Now, with that said, there’s that we’ve learned tons of things from the cannabis space, especially, you know, hey, maybe capitalism isn’t the right vehicle, that really sort of understand some of the harms of capitalism and more of the smart guardrails around that, especially kind of like social equity and sort of reciprocity. Again, a lot of that wasn’t sort of baked into the early cannabis days like we see it now. And so being one of the big lessons and a big thing with the National Mental Health Act is that it does put like equity and justice first from the get go, you know, originally which was a very key piece. We worked on legalizing medical cannabis, we worked on legalizing adult use cannabis, we helped other states do it. We built a law firm around it, but really, it was what really got me involved in sort of the plan that is in a psychedelic space, that’s not always working with Kevin Matthews and the decriminalized Denver campaign back in 2008 and 2009. I remember, Kevin wanted to decriminalize psilocybin. I thought that was crazy. Because this has never been done before. But he was passionate and organized. Him and his team really wanted to move this forward so we help them draft this measure to decriminalize psilocybin in Denver, and it pass, it actually pass the day after. No one thought they’re going to pass because the day after the election that’s in Las Vegas, they came in. And that sort of started in my professional career, at least in the policy change around this space. I also think he was like that Denver vote, then led to so many other cities passing decrim measures. And so, it’s really sort of like set off this policy, tidal wave in many cases, and then from there, you saw Oakland move forward, and then Oregon as a state move forward. And now we’re here in Colorado, you have a very, very progressive bill as well. One thing I will note, though, is I think there’s like a misnomer around the city decriminalization measures, because a lot of folks are, you know, they say, Hey, mushrooms are decriminalized in Denver, where do I buy them at? Okay, started my new mushroom business in Denver, and the answer is none.


Dr. Will Van Derveer  11:53



Joshua Kappel  11:53

The issue is that’s not actually legal in Denver, it’s still a kind at the state level. The Denver measure makes it the lowest law enforcement priority, prohibits funding from the state of enforcing or prohibits the city from enforcing state laws from a funding perspective, but truly not decriminalize. So there’s, like a total misnomer.


Dr. Will Van Derveer  12:15

Right. Deprioritize is probably a more accurate way to describe it. Yeah, that’s important. And some of the folks listening are probably therapists, and some may be even in our training for psychedelic therapy training, and we get these questions a lot about, Well, now that psilocybin is decriminalized in Denver, I can just do psilocybin therapy in Denver, right? It’s like, No, you can’t do that, not yet. Yeah, it’s confusing for folks, these different nuances and the language.


Joshua Kappel  12:48

Yeah, I guess on that point, too, I think it’s super interesting to mention federal law at this time.


Dr. Will Van Derveer  12:56



Joshua Kappel  12:56

Our measure changes state law but it doesn’t change federal. Yeah, and so, if a measure passes, yes, like the possession of psilocybin will be decriminalized in the whole state of Colorado, but it’ll still be a federal crime. If you’re out at your Rocky Mountain National Park, and you’re eating mushrooms after this passes, still, it’s your federal land, you can still get a ticket for that.


Dr. Will Van Derveer  13:20



Joshua Kappel  13:20

There’s also sort of like implications around the federal licensing and other issues as well.


Dr. Will Van Derveer  13:26

Yeah. Speaking of that, let’s talk a little more about that, and kind of like the state and the federal mismatch. I guess, this might be a kind of an obvious question but, why try to change things at the state level when in theory, psilocybin is going to go through phase three trials and eventually be looked at by FDA. There’s no initiation of a phase three study that I know about yet, but there is hope that that will happen. And the process that we use for other tools like, I don’t know, ketamine or other tools that have been through a phase three study get approved on the federal level. MDMA, of course, not a plant medicine, but on the way through phase three, and hopefully, if it holds up, it won’t be a political decision, it’ll get approved. But why even go to a state level rather than, so to speak, waiting for psilocybin?


Joshua Kappel  14:27

Great question. The strategy of going state by state really also kind of started in the cannabis world. And we saw no movement at the federal level and so many people are being arrested under state law, that it made sense for us to say, Okay, if we change state laws, then we can effectively remove 99, 98% of all cannabis around you. Yeah, and there wasn’t also the same. Yeah, it’s like, there wasn’t the same push at the federal level. Now, if people ask me sometimes about psychedelics and the legal status, it’s super interesting because it’s like on one hand, it’s like cannabis 1996. We have one state that has like a state based program. On the other hand, it’s a lot more legal than cannabis. Otherwise, if you have COMPASS, you have MAPS, you have all these companies moving forward with, youpsilocybin or MDMA, or ketamine is already approved are all the different analogs, different varieties of these different compounds and some citizen science? The question is why? You know, and you I think there’s a couple of reasons. One is, we don’t know exactly, it’s like psilocybin will ever be approved. Yeah, I feel knock on wood, I feel confident with MDMA. But our measure doesn’t touch on mbN. esteem, as we’ve touched on psilocybin and psilocybin and DMT mescaline, but not from peyote. So we don’t know if these substances will ever be approved to survive one reason we don’t know when. And then the second reason is, and I think it’s a really good question is like, Hey, should there be an avenue for the non medicalized access to national site developments, you know, our prescription model? You would people benefit from natural sight about therapy without, like, an underlying indication, you know, or more like a spiritual or religious sense or self growth mindset. And I think that that, you know, is, is really, the why of this measure is that we allow another model to, you know, know, I do believe we’ll have a very, you know, we’ll have this medical model that’s approved by the FDA, and then sort of this middle ground model that’s lightly regulated by the state, and then our Ma supervising the personal exploration through the decrypt measure, and these other two pieces of like, the personal use, and this mental model wouldn’t really exist in China, if we just had the


Dr. Will Van Derveer  16:48

right. Yeah, and I mean, especially with psilocybin, to me, it makes so much sense to be from a civic freedom perspective. And the right to work with a plant ally that can open up consciousness can cause to quote, you know, Johns Hopkins can occasion mystical experience, right? A substance that has been in use in ritual settings for 1000s and 1000s, of years, and indigenous frameworks, and also one that showed up in a really interesting study, you’re probably familiar with David Nutt, the pharmacologist in the UK, was famously sacked from his government post when he wrote an opinion in a paper in London, saying that riding horses is more dangerous than taking a psychedelic, or I think he was talking specifically about MDMA. But he had this graph in his paper, after he got fired that he published that showed, you know, alcohol and heroin and, you know, stimulants and all these things at the very high end of abuse and actual harm to society. And then psilocybin, like, all the way down at the far end of like, this massive list of substances and, and so I think when we start thinking about like, risks and benefits, and obviously, we’re talking about adult use here, we’re not talking about, you know, kids getting into it, that’s a whole nother thing. But obviously, we need protections, you know, access protections for children, so forth, parents have to be responsible for what they have at home, right. But when you start looking at the big picture of benefits and drawbacks, and you look at prohibition, and the drawbacks of that, versus, you know, the drawbacks of decriminalization, access, taking responsibility for ourselves and our families and putting the onus of, so to speak, safety or protection on the more on the individual, maybe, and last on law enforcement. To me, it’s a no brainer that, you know, the benefits outweigh the drawbacks. Yeah, that’s


Joshua Kappel  18:56

a really good point, you know, and part of that, you know, I will admit, you know, we don’t, we don’t know exactly what, you know, open, you know, it’s like what a very accessible psilocybin experiences would look like, and how that affects the general public. But with that said, it’s like, well, we know around psychedelics today, yes. Like, like, as you mentioned, it’s like, it’s really not that big of a deal. There’s not that many arrests. You know, it’s like a lot of people use psychedelics in a very, like, responsible, safe setting. But just, you know, some people won’t, I think I’d say, like, anticipate what I can, right. Yeah, I think a big piece of this measure too, is like, with the state being in this like regulatory position. They’ll be an opportunities to ask yourself, like, what sort of guardrails do we think makes sense? Right? Like, should there be screenings around with the more screenings around certain personality disorders? Should there be like in Oregon should be limited to one type of mushroom or, you know, do we want this more open? And you had this conversation around like, what’s a dark resonance of like safety and training places is a conversation that happened in this measure, you know, sort of over the next 18 months, you know, providing the passes.


Dr. Will Van Derveer  20:11

Yeah, I think about some of the patients I treated earlier in my career who, you know, maybe were younger, maybe in high school, you just like kids who were just a little different, maybe a little odd, and, you know, maybe had a risk or a predisposition to psychosis. And one of the fears, I think, and I’ve seen, like I said, I’ve seen it happen in a handful of my patients is like these, these folks who might have a variety of different risks for psychosis, and then take a psychedelic, and the psychedelic experience kind of cracks open something underlying in that person. And then the question becomes what that person would they have developed a psychotic disorder if they didn’t ever take a psychedelic and, and so what comes up for me is like this more paternalistic may be concerned as a physician, as a psychiatrist of the diluting of, of the conversation about risk, you know, and making sure like you were just saying that there are guardrails in place that would trigger someone who does have an underlying risk, who maybe has no business taking a psychedelic to get that information, you know, and have that readily available or part of the conversation somehow. So going back to what you said is, it’s not without risk that something like this would get approved. But to me on balance, the risk of harm to, you know, great multitudes of people is a lot less than what’s already happening with people getting incarcerated for minor drug offenses.


Joshua Kappel  21:46

Yeah. Well, let me ask you, I mean, do you think the you know, when it comes to looking at the breasts and screening, potentially individuals who this might be more destabilizing for? Is that like a decision? Do you think like it has a community or as the state this is like, should be like a one size mandate that goes across the boiler? Should this be a rule from Dor, you need to screen out someone with bipolar syndrome or disorder? Or do you think this is more like a case by case therapist by therapists conversation that they need to have with their own patients?


Dr. Will Van Derveer  22:23

That’s a great question. You know, it brings up kind of a lot for me as a psychiatrist around decisions that I’ve made over the years, to treat people in different ways. And I think, for me, it’s been really important to have the freedom to, you know, for instance, taper people who have a psychotic disorder off of their anti psychotics, bearing in mind that there is a risk to doing that, and bringing other resources to bear for that person that could help them continue to flourish and thrive in their lives without having to bear the really terrible side effects that come from anti psychotic medications for certain people. So I think if I was laboring under a kind of a blanket prohibition of, you know, if so, and so ever had psychosis in the past, or if they have a parent with schizophrenia, or they have other risk factors for psychosis, you’re never allowed to work with that person on psilocybin. And I don’t think that would feel good as a practitioner, because they know that their clinical judgment would sometimes dictate that the benefits outweigh the risk of harm in individual cases, you know, and that people are more complex than just, oh, they’re gonna have a psychotic experience, if they ever take psilocybin. It’s kind of like, what I was taught to teach, you know, what I was taught to tell patients, which I learned pretty quickly not to do anymore, was never go off your medication. You know, you’re fucked if you ever stopped taking your anti psychotic or you’re in a depressant. And the reality just doesn’t match up to that view that certain doors are always closed for certain people. It’s all about what is the constellation of support? What’s the constellation of challenge and that person’s life? And I think just making very precise recommendations based on a deeper conversation about all the factors that play, and I would also say, you know, when we start looking at like, long term health risks, we have to talk about alcohol too, because, I mean, we’re having this conversation about psilocybin, but, you know, it’s like, well, if somebody’s drinking a lot, or they have reasons that I perceive that I want to, you know, talk to them about what I see as evidence of harm from their alcohol use patterns, because it’s legal. It’s like, it’s up to them. They’re gonna have to make that choice themselves. Right. I mean, there are extreme cases where someone gets the rights taken away because they’ve, you know, hurt themselves or other people too much with alcohol, but those are extremely rare. So I guess my political, maybe position really is maybe more of a, if you’re not hurting other people, and then we have to make our own choices about what we’re exploring and what gives us meaning in our lives. You know,


Joshua Kappel  25:18

I think that’s right. And at least in my circling community, there’s a lot of individuals I’ve known him sort of been able to step away from alcohol, you know, with different psychedelics. And so being able to break those patterns, and you didn’t, whether it’s like, a macro jobs here with a therapist, or you know, if it’s like micro dosing over time, you know, actually, you know, a lot of people, I feel like, I’ve been able to use these substances to get off, like, what are the own, there are legal substances that the world says is okay for us?


Dr. Will Van Derveer  25:50

Right. And there are clinical trials with psilocybin, specifically on alcohol use disorders. And yeah, and Bill W, from AAA has famously been said to, you know, have experienced, I think it was LSD in his case, in order to sort of have this awakening that caused him to stop. Yeah, that’s a good point.


Joshua Kappel  26:12

Yeah. And yeah, it’s always Yeah, I think it’s, you know, we we use alcohol as a marker of what is safe in society that is like, Hey, I was anything. Right? It’s a pretty low bar.


Dr. Will Van Derveer  26:32

Yeah, it brings questions up for me about like, I can’t remember which anthropologist, it was, who observed that, you know, it’s, it’s sort of like, part of human nature, you know, over the entire course of, you know, however many hundreds of 1000s of years of humanity to, to use substances to alter our consciousness and having alcohol available and legal. I know a lot of people who, of course, get addicted to alcohol, but there are also people who are using alcohol to change their consciousness or their state temporarily. And it’s almost like this, it’s like taking Benadryl for sleep, like, there’s a huge downside, and it might get you to sleep, but you’re gonna feel crappy the next day. Versus like doing whatever you need to do to get to the bottom of the root causes of that insomnia, right? So, yeah, I wonder if, you know, a lot of people, if they were more cleaner, maybe more, so to speak healthier alternatives to alcohol for altering consciousness, by ingesting something, if a lot of people would sort of jump the fence and move over to a different way?


Joshua Kappel  27:39

I wonder that, too. And it’s pretty difficult, you know, because it’s, it’s like, I think a good substance that a lot of people would use instead of like kava, for example, you know, but it’s like of a, you know, hazard. There’s some liver toxicity there. Now, how does that compare to alcohols, liver toxicity, that’s a whole other unit, but it hasn’t been approved as a beverage by the FDA. So you can only be really drank as a dietary supplement. So there’s also kind of like a difficulty of like, creating others, or like alcohol substitutes that have effect on on yours, or like consciousness that can be you know, they’re like beverage form that people can drink. And like a, in a social setting. And I don’t know, if I completely agree, you know, especially, you know, ISIS, like a lot of people using, you know, kind of microdosing of that substitute a little bit. You’re under the National medicine Health Act, you know, there is nursing, you know, so you know, it’s like, on the personal use side, someone can, you know, grow their own mushrooms and make their own microscopes, and like, share them with their community, but there’s no like, there’s not gonna be a way to like, buy or sell, you know, really any of these psychedelic substances. In part, because we’re not looking to make the next cannabis industry, we’re just, like, provide access here to, for people to, to heal and to change their consciousness.


Dr. Will Van Derveer  28:51

I think that’s so important to underline what you just said that this is not about commercialization, it’s not about selling, in fact, selling would remain prohibited. So I don’t know what kind of ads are out there against Proposition 122. But I think it’s really important for people to hear that, again, that this is about opening up the possibilities for access for healing and personal use.


Joshua Kappel  29:14

Yeah, I think that is like a key piece, you know, that there’s no commercial sales as this is about the commercialization of it. And then I think another key piece to that we built into, you know, the, well, there’s two pieces. One wonder we’ve gotten to the end of the regulated model is around access. So there’s this big question about, like, how can we create equitable access just like it out there? Yes. It’s sort of like the the framework and the structure that we put in is that there’s, you know, a lot of this will be flushed out in rulemaking, but there’s, there’s a mandate to have sort of like sliding scale licensing. So larger companies pay higher fees than smaller companies. So there’s sort of like access to medical. There’s like diversity of ownership, you know, in size of these companies and then And this fund that’s created can then be used to sort of provide access to low income individuals. So there’s, you know, there’s a mandate from door to night rules around how do we make sure there’s access for low income, there’s been disproportionately harmed by the war on drugs. And people, you know, in the indigenous people have, like traditional use of these natural medicines, I think it’s like, a key piece of this puzzle, because, you know, we’re really, in creating a regular model, we’re trying to make it a way that’s like, you know, that’s really rooted in equity and justice. And so like honoring those who came before us, and making this as like psychedelic therapy isn’t just for rich white folks here that it’s actually accessible for everyone. Right. And


Dr. Will Van Derveer  30:45

so it’s a good piece to jump into this critique, there’s a movement against this proposition that has said things like, this is really for venture capitalists, for people to get rich on psychedelics in Colorado, but I don’t see opportunity for that in this bill, for example, there’s a limit right on the number of healing centers, for example, that one organization or, or a group of individuals could own right. Tell me more about that. I mean, what why are people saying this is about venture capital on people getting rich on psychedelics?


Joshua Kappel  31:18

Yeah, I mean, I think, you know, whenever there’s like a new industry, or new ecosystem created, people are sort of concerned, like, who’s to benefit? You know, and then there’s money behind the campaign, I think people are generally suspect of your what’s going on here and Trump? And this has been something you know, it’s like one of the drafters and that I really dove into, you know, we were debating for a long time of, should we create heels, we mandate that he’ll only be nonprofit businesses? You know, we debated that internally, we talked to others and sort of this conscious capital community, like how do we, how do we do this, we decided, well, if we mandate ever just to be nonprofit, then you’ll make a management company and there’ll be some there’ll be like, some system or structure to get around sort of like legislating corporate for you. And we also looked at like, Hey, baby, it just like deeper only does that make sense? You know, for us there was what would we decriminalize? You know, cannabis, or 2006, out of 7000s of businesses popped up with no rules. They said, Oh, I can, there’s no, there’s enough protections for me. So I can I start a business, I don’t know how long it’s gonna last, I’m gonna start a cannabis business based on like, short term, let’s get as much money as possible before they change as we want this, like short term extraction model. In fact, it’s either kind of trying to figure out like, Hey, what is the best way to go about this? And so what we did, you know, is two, three main things, you know, one that we talked about is there is no sale. So we’re not talking about selling products. We’re not like, we’re not talking about you’re trying to, you create a whole new market. And you know, how many sales can we sell every day? Yada, yada, yada? Or how many, you know, widgets? Can we sell every day, instead of based off of therapy and facilitators? You know, and the other tip is, as you mentioned, it’s like no individual can have an interest in more than five of these hearings. And what does this mean, you know, what we’ve seen this meme before is like this, independent how the rules are drafted like this, actually prohibit public companies from being involved, because you can’t, because like an individual person wouldn’t be able to, like own a stock from five different companies, or, you know, or prohibits, but it definitely prohibits, like an individual from having any sort of financial interest in more than five. So that sort of keeps us small. But the thing that I’m most excited about is, you know, we built in this ESG screen into the licensing permissions. So any company that wants to participate in this spot has to go through a screen, that’d be created by Dora that grades, their environmental practices, their social responsibility practices, and their governance practices. And then they have to get a certain score to even qualify. And so what this could be is like, Hey, are you net zero? You get 10 points. Oh, you’re you know, you have a sustainability plan. Maybe you get two points. So you pay your employees you know, living wage, you get five points, oh, you pay your employees double living wage, you get 20 points, and oh, yeah, the reciprocity program, you get 15 points, or you just your pick these numbers about these thing, how do these businesses plan to operate? And like we’re gonna score them based off of value, only that businesses participate that have sound environmentally friendly.


Dr. Will Van Derveer  34:44

Wow, that’s exciting. I didn’t realize that was an adult in there.


Joshua Kappel  34:47

Yeah. The strength of will depend on the regulatory process, but the whole idea is like, kind of like a double click. It’s like, how do you figure out here what do we hate about capitalism, which Just generally like the race to the bottom and extraction, or like, let’s say trigger those things.


Dr. Will Van Derveer  35:06

Right? Definitely. Well, I’m also curious is a little bit of a talking about baking in, you know, these controls in Colorado, Oregon, you know, to shift gears for a moment really took a very different approach, from what I can tell, they said, Look, we’re gonna put psilocybin services completely and totally outside of anything having to do with medical regulation, psychotherapy, psychiatry, we’re calling it psilocybin services. We’re gonna license facilitators separately from their therapy, licensure or their medical licensure. And it’s just a really different approach. And I think it’s interesting. So I’m, I’m curious, as you and the team kind of debated internally and developed the plan for Prop 122. What, what were you thinking about in terms of like, why go in this other direction with putting it under the division of regulatory agencies and kind of bringing it in my mind anyway, it looks like it’s more integrated into psychotherapy, as a regulated service in Colorado and, and even psychiatry.


Joshua Kappel  36:17

Yeah, no, I mean, it’s, it’s a fascinating debate that it’s, you know, I think, like how it plays out, we’ll be, we’ll see, you know, but, you know, when we’re sort of putting these things together, there’s a lot of conversations with folks in the community, about, you know, accessibility to become you to become a facilitator. And, you know, some folks in the community wanted to make it really easy for folks to become a facilitator, while others said, like, man, they’re working, very powerful substances, agree a lot of training are going to make sure that people actually have facilitators actually have real experience with these substances in a way that’s like that they know how to navigate some of the dynamics. And there’s just a tension and the tension is theirs. And it’s a healthy tension, you know, because like, you have safety. On one hand, you have accessibility, on the other hand, I do believe it’s like, in the middle is like someplace that, you know, probably makes your makes no sense. How we sort of tackle that, in the National Mental Health Act was, Hey, what is this a way we can make tiered facilitator training, you know, and say, Hey, have you, the trends are ultimately going to be decided by Dora, but it’s supposed to be tiered based off of the services being provided, and sort of like the indications of the participants. The idea is, you know, is that maybe someone who’s just being a trip sitter has a different level of training than someone engaged, like, psychedelic assisted there. You know, someone coming for spiritual growth that looks different than somebody coming to heal Trump. And, you know, I think the difficulty and you probably know, this better is, I think, I don’t necessarily know if whoever knows what you’re what they’re going to work for in a psilocybin session. Before they get there.


Dr. Will Van Derveer  38:00

That’s exactly what I was thinking. You might think you’re coming in for personal growth, and all of a sudden, you’re in a really gnarly trauma vortex that takes time to, to work through. But yeah, yeah, yeah, I get it. Well, on the surface, you might, I mean, I use myself as an example, you know, like, I looked like a pretty highly functional person, until I started plumbing the depths of my psychology and come to find out, there’s all kinds of really intense stuff in there that it’s been amazing to get to access and work through, because it actually gives me more sovereignty and flexibility and more joyful experience. But there were times where I really needed to be held by somebody much more experienced, let’s say, that’s the trick is like, for me, it’s more about experience than it is about what the letters are after the person’s name, you know, because there are people who were incredibly gifted, who have every credential under the sun, you know, and then there are people who are incredibly gifted, who have no credentials formally at all. And then there are people who are have every credential under the sun and I would never want to sit with them as a facilitator for me, and just, you know, completely miss attuned and hopelessly kind of like, unemotional or something. And then, you know, you have people who maybe go to Peru and drink Ayahuasca and come back and open a shaman business after one, you know, Ayahuasca experience, so, and they’re probably not in a great place to even understand what’s going on when people have a complex reaction to something. So, to me, it’s really not so much the, I mean, when I was trained by by maps and MDMA therapy, I felt like a lot of what I needed to do was unlearn techniques that I’d learned in my training as a psychiatrist, but there was definitely a foundation there that was useful. There was definitely a foundation that was useful. So I think it’s valid. I mean, what what you’re talking about, I mean, not that you need natural medicine Health Act will be decided on You know, regardless of my opinion, but I think it does make sense to have a tiered approach where, you know, a person who gets has a, let’s say, a spiritual emergency, or they have some kind of big experience with a not very deeply trained trip center could always go in and seek services from someone who has a deep understanding of trauma and trauma resolution,


Joshua Kappel  40:22

then I think that’s right. I think it’ll be really interesting. Like it was. So training requirements, kind of that I think, I think a key piece of naturalness and how factors, though, will be a large, like, public input process, public stakeholder process, but what do these trainings look like? There’s a provision in ours where like, to be a facilitator, there’s no prerequisite degree. But you know, that the state is allowed to give you credit for relevant experience, whether it’s as a psychotherapist or as a psychiatrist, or as a medicine keeper. And how’s that going to be measured? Yeah, it’s like, a really good, really good question. And I always chuckle it’s like, hey, when people are, I love your thoughts on this, but we feel like choosing a facilitator, like, what do they go to you to screen them to make sure that they’re a good fit for them? You know, I always we bought that because that way, we can mandate that the facilitators had, like, so many deep experiences with the medicine that they’re working with prior to being a facilitator.


Dr. Will Van Derveer  41:22

Yeah, I mean, and then there’s all this individual variation on what kind of facilitator works for you personally, versus the kind of facilitator I want to work with, you know, for example, someone with more of a bent toward shamanism and who’s going to use maybe palo santo or sage or something to clear the space in the room might be a great thing for one individual, but then the next individual who really feels a lot safer and more held in a more kind of medical or clinical environment might really want to have a physician or, you know, a PhD, or somebody who’s more traditional or conservative in their approach.


Joshua Kappel  42:04

I think that’s absolutely right. I think it’s, you know, it’s like, meeting different people where they are, you know, it’s like my mom, 100% of want us to be covered by insurance to be approved by the FDA, you know, whereas, you know, other folks will never want to step foot in any sort of clinical setting, and they’re on this in a very, like, natural, sort of experientially focused setting. And, you know, and then there’s the people in between. Yeah, I think it’s my perfect worldview provide this passes, you know, I think we actually started to see these multiple different approaches that, you know, allow people to beam that where they are, I think there’s recipes from, you know, like, how do we deal with the NIA shamans that you mentioned, that you have very limited, you know, experience with some of these medicines, and then feel called to instantly start serving them, versus people who’ve been working with these medicines for decades, and still don’t feel like they’re ready to smoke? Right. Now, it’s Yeah, I think one thing to note, too, that, you know, is very key on on this topic, as it’s put the national medicines and medicine out that there’s these two models, there’s this, you know, regulated model, you know, some rabid backdoor, but then there is this de creme model, and in this very limited sounds like it does permit, you know, indigenous communities and sort of existing communities to operate without being dictated how to operate by the state. You know, and I think it’s a very key because it was like design, you know, Dora can’t be telling an Ayahuasca how to like run their circle, right? Yeah. And so it’s a very design out these two different paths. With that said, though, it’s like the personal use path that we have to protect it you know, can’t you know people abuse it and it’s like, you know, it could be on the chopping block, but the state legislature says like very key, you know, that is that, you know, this side is like honored as well. But in a way that’s like true and not like, you know, people not appeasing so


Dr. Will Van Derveer  44:01

is there anything about the proposition that we haven’t talked about that you want people to know about before we start wrapping up


Joshua Kappel  44:10

talking about accent as we talked about the personal use? I think the one thing that Gen Ed’s would have actually mentioned at the beginning is what nationalist second up Madison’s already talking about, you know, and so they’re gonna start with on the regulated side with just psilocybin and psilocybin and then there’s an advisory board that’s going to be that’s created and to help one you know, address all these issues we just discussed over the last hour but also that can recommend other national psychedelic medicines to be added to the regular program, and the many that they can recommend if it’s DMT includes Ibogaine includes mescaline, but not from from the decrypt side, there’s decriminalizes all of these natural psychedelics you know, right away. So I think that’s like something to know. And then I think another key piece, you know, to note too, is if There’s, there isn’t a lot and this goes back to the civil rights. But there isn’t a desire to try and like figure out what insurance coverage looks like here. Yeah, and there’s, you know, the advisory board supposed to create a report about it. There’s a prohibition on sort of Colorado’s Medicaid from denying coverage, if coverage would otherwise be provided. Colorado, Medicaid was providing coverage for the psychotherapy session. They can’t deny it just because somewhere in your history of hearing this person is not. You know, and that’s it, you’re coming back to like, how do we sort of like put this in there, like an access first model, and an equity first model? And then there’s also a couple other bells and whistles? One is there’s a sort of easy record ceiling provision, so folks with prior convictions, get their records, you know, in a pretty expeditious manner. And there’s probably a couple other pieces I’m forgetting, but we’re definitely gonna talk about those.


Dr. Will Van Derveer  45:57

So that sound that last piece sounds like it falls into the Justice kind of conversation. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Wow. There’s a lot to this proposition. There is,


Joshua Kappel  46:10

it takes Oregon and it really like expands on it, you know, lessons learned from Oregon plus, you know, a lot of a lot more equity, a lot more focus on sort of indigenous and historical cultures. And it moves this forward away. To me that’s very, very responsible and very complex. But ultimately, the success of this is gonna come down to implementation. And it’s, you know, right at people who, if we can have the smartest people in the room, you know, folks like yourself or others in the psychedelic therapy community, you’re coming to the table and talking about like, Hey, here’s a rose makes sense. Here’s a rose don’t make sense, based off of my experience, right? Yeah. And then we can have like a very effective program that can provide healing to a lot of people.


Dr. Will Van Derveer  46:55

We sure need it. Yeah. Well, thanks, Josh. This has been really illuminating. I’ve learned things about the proposition I didn’t know about. And I hope that our listeners are, I’m sure they’re getting a lot of value about hearing about the details. And, as Josh mentioned, this is coming up on November 8, on the on the ballot in Colorado. So if if people have questions or comments, you know, reach out. I’ll give the information about how to reach us in the intro and the outro of the of the podcast. And thanks for joining us, Josh.


Joshua Kappel  47:30

Yeah, yeah. Thanks for having me. And hopefully, all of your listeners are in Colorado voters will vote yes. problems when they do this November.


Dr. Will Van Derveer  47:38

Yeah. Thanks for all your effort on this proposition and for taking, you know, taking a stand for accessibility and equity and moving things forward. Yeah,


Joshua Kappel  47:49

it’s just kind of privileged to be able to, you know, fight this fight with, with everyone. Yeah.


Dr. Will Van Derveer  47:56

Thanks, Josh. All right, thank you. We look forward to connecting with you again on the next episode of the higher practice Podcast where we explore what it takes to achieve optimal mental health.

Josh Kappel

Josh Kappel is a founding partner of Vicente Sederberg with a passion for helping entrepreneurs and visionaries build human-centric and regenerative companies in the cannabis and psychedelic industries. Passionate about policy, Josh also loves helping advocates draft legislation and build sustaining vehicles that will forever influence these emerging industries.

In addition to policy work, Josh focuses his corporate practice on risk assessment for multinational corporations and financial transactions in the highly regulated cannabis industry. He also routinely provides advice to patients, caregivers, and businesses about cannabis, licensing, regulatory compliance, general business, and transactional law, and the intersection of state and federal law. Recently, Josh has focused his time on the two largest cannabis markets in the world: California and Canada.

In 2023, Josh was recognized by his peers in the “Best Lawyers” list for his work in cannabis law.

Josh previously served as associate director of Sensible Colorado, a nonprofit organization that advocated for medical marijuana patient rights and played a key role in opening the door for the state’s regulated medical marijuana system. Josh also contributed to the drafting of Amendment 64, which legalized cannabis for adult use in Colorado.

Josh is a founding board member of the International Cannabis Bar Association, Simplifya, and VS Tech Ventures, and a founding member of the Council for Responsible Cannabis Regulation. He is also a member of the Psychedelic Bar Association. Josh is a sought-after thought leader in cannabis and psychedelics policy, contributing writings, presenting at local and international conferences, working on psychedelics reform initiatives, and testifying at public hearings on marijuana-related issues. He was named one of “Denver’s Top Lawyers” by 5280 Magazine from 2016–2020.

To learn more about Josh Kappel, visit:,_Decriminalization_and_Regulated_Access _Program_for_Certain_Psychedelic_Plants_and_Fungi_Initiative_(2022)