University of Colorado Denver Launches Psychedelic Research Center

Center research will include potential benefits of psychedelics and the implications of legalization in the state.

The University of Colorado Denver has established a psychedelic research center to explore the potential mental and physical health applications of psychedelic drugs and the impact of Colorado’s recent legislation decriminalizing certain psychedelics, the university said in a June 24 news release.

Researchers at the new CU Denver Center for Psychedelic Research will conduct studies on the therapeutic potential of psychedelics for various health conditions, including mental health disorders and late-stage cancer and other debilitating illnesses.

CU Denver psychology professor Jim Grigsby will serve as the center’s chief science officer and medical director. In addition to being the director of the new center, Grigsby is a co-principal investigator of one of the nation’s largest studies on the therapeutic use of psilocybin among patients facing the end of life.

“Preliminary research here, and elsewhere, suggests that psychedelics may induce or enhance neural plasticity and neurogenesis in certain parts of the brain,” Grigsby said. “They are thought to have powerful anti-inflammatory effects, which might make them effective as therapies for neurological conditions such as stroke or certain neurodegenerative diseases. We have a lot of work to do, but there is so much potential that it’s an exciting time.”

Center research will also explore the impact these drugs have on the economy and society, including how Colorado’s new state law is applied, ethical and public health implications and equitable structures to develop insurance coverage and payment policies for these novel treatments.

Colorado voters passed Proposition 122 in 2022, which decriminalized certain plant and fungal-based psychedelic drugs, and required the state to establish protocols for the use of such drugs in controlled clinical settings to adults over 21. The regulations go into effect this year.