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Colorado Senate Approves Legislation Banning Social Media Praise of Drugs

This bill (SB24-158) regarding social media and drugs, including legal psychedelics, infringes on both the First and Fourth Amendment.



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There’s another attack on the First Amendment for you to worry about, especially if you live in Colorado. The Centennial State’s Senate approved an epically terrifying social media bill that could require social media platforms to prohibit users from saying anything deemed positive about controlled substances online, including psychedelics legal in the state, specific hemp products, and even some over-the-counter cough syrups.


The bill, officially named SB24-158, is a comprehensive measure that addresses internet age verification and content regulations, mandating that social media platforms promptly delete any user “who promotes, sells, or advertises an illicit substance.”


Originally, the bill would have also applied to cannabis, which is, of course, legal in Colorado. Adults 21 and older can possess up to one ounce of marijuana and grow up to six plants privately. Thankfully, that got scrapped, thanks to an amendment last month from the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Chris Hansen (D), who made sure it includes language noting that “a social media platform may allow a user to promote, sell, or advertise medical marijuana or retail marijuana to users who are at least twenty-one years of age” if the content that the user is posting is in line with state cannabis laws. So, while IGing your legal weed should be fine, be careful about posting anything purchased on the black market or potentially grown illicitly. The Senate, with four members excused, voted 30-1 on Wednesday to pass the revised measure during its third reading.


However, there’s still plenty to be angry over. The revised bill would continue to cover a wide range of both legal and illegal substances. Despite the amendment concerning cannabis, the bill could still pose significant threats for users who attempt to share harmless and legal content about substances as available as cough medicine. 


“The updated version would still prevent users from from promoting NyQuil or anti-anxiety medications among many others, even though it exempts marijuana,” R Street Institute Fellow Shoshana Weismann, told Marijuana Moment last month. “And if you promote those medications, you will be reported to law enforcement. That is asinine.”


Because this isn’t just a rule a private company is creating. It’s the government. 


And as amended, the bill maintains that its reach pertains to certain hemp products, such as those containing over 1.25 milligrams of THC or any with a CBD-to-THC ratio under 20:1. It also includes most other hemp-based products meant for human consumption, so basically anything except for those categorized as dietary supplements, foods, food additives, or herbs.


The state’s psychedelic advocates are concerned. It pits Colorado’s legal drug laws up against government overreach. As Marijuana Moment reports, Kevin Matthews, the director of the campaign in Denver that successfully made the city the first in the U.S. to decriminalize psilocybin, said on Facebook after Wednesday’s vote that the SB24-158 would “make it nearly impossible to even simply talk about plant and fungi medicine on any social media network without state monitoring.” Of course, this not only is worrisome for those who like to post photos of their beautiful fungi, but puts information about safe and responsible usage at risk. Once again, an attempt to regulate and restrict will end up making substances that would usually be very safe and beneficial more dangerous than if people were just let be. 

The measure’s language “severely handicaps the emergent psychedelic ecosystem at all levels to educate the public,” Matthews wrote, “and gives broad powers to a state apparatus to take legal action against individuals for expressing their opinion online.”


Under the proposed legislation, social media companies would need to revise their policies and make them publicly available by July 1, 2025. Any changes to these policies must be posted online within 14 days after they are implemented. The companies would be obligated to annually provide the state attorney general with reports confirming whether their published policies include definitions and provisions related to illicit substances, as per a legislative summary given to a Senate committee. The bill requires companies to keep “all data and metadata related to users’ identities and activities” for one year, which puts users at risk of hackers coming in and stealing such data. 


While the First Amendment is obviously a concern, informed critics warn that the bill infringes on the Fourth Amendment as well, which is meant to protect Americans from unreasonable search and seizures by the government.

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