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Colorado Appoints Natural Medicine Advisory Board to Shape Psychedelic Program
Get to know the board that will help craft Colorado's psilocybin program under the Natural Medicine Health Act (Proposition 122)
Last updated August 18, 2023 to reflect the addition of Stacie Loucks and the replacement of inaugural board chair Katina Banks with Lundy.
On Friday, Governor Jared Polis announced members of the Colorado Natural Medicine Advisory Board. This fifteen-member board sits within the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA), where it will advise regulators drafting rules for the state’s psilocybin program. Colorado voters approved the Natural Medicine Health Act (Proposition 122) in November, triggering an eighteen-month implementation phase in which the board will complete its work.
I’ve summarized each board member’s background below so that you can find the information in one place. The board consists of two types of appointees. The first group will serve two-year terms, and the second will serve four-year terms. All but one of the appointed members reside in Colorado.
At least on the surface, few board members appear to have experience directly related to psychedelics. Though she does not mention psychedelics by name, Dr. Sofia Chavez, a board-certified natural medicine physician, describes being raised with the healing traditions of her New Mexican ancestors and continuing to learn their practices and Mesoamerican healing techniques. Dr. Sue Sisley, the only board member from out of state, is well known for her controlled substances research, particularly involving cannabis. Also an advocate for psychedelics research, Sisley supports an Arizona bill to fund clinical trials with psilocybin.
Several board members have experience related to drug policy or substance use treatment. Professor Bradley Connor of Colorado State University has studied addiction, cannabis, and alcohol use, but his curriculum vitae makes no mention of psychedelics. Wendy Buxton-Andrade, the Prowers County Commissioner for District 3, chairs Colorado’s Opioid Settlement Board for Region 19. In 2017, Fortune Magazine named journalist turned marketing professional Ricardo Baca one of the seven most powerful people in the U.S. marijuana industry.
I will update this article as we learn more about the Natural Medicine Advisory Board. The newly appointed members include:
Members serving two-year terms expiring January 31, 2025
William Dunn, NRP, FP-C
William Dunn of Avon, CO will represent first responders. He is the Senior Manager of Clinical Services at Eagle County Paramedic Service. According to his profile at Pinnacle EMS, Dunn has more than 25 years of experience as a paramedic and 15 years of management experience. According to LinkedIn, Dunn attended the University of Colorado at Boulder and Eckerd College.
“Psilocybin shows promise in the treatment of trauma — many of my colleagues have been affected by PTSD — and many have committed suicide. First and foremost my interest is a strong desire to save my friends from the trauma paramedics suffer,” wrote Dunn in his Board application. “However, I do have an earnestness that if there’s a need for an EMS perspective in the use of psilocybin, I believe my expertise in the industry and experience with governmental entities and boards will make me useful in the process.”
Dunn serves as Chair of the Emergency Response, Safety, and Ethics Subcommittee and the Harm Reduction and Public Safety Subcommittee .
Billy Wynne, JD
Billy Wynne of Greenwood Village, CO will represent the fields of health insurance, health policy, and harm reduction. According to Wynn’s professional website, he attended Dartmouth College and the University of Virginia Law School. Wynn reports having significant experience working in Washington healthcare policy, having served as Health Policy Counsel to the Senate Finance Committee. In 2018, Wynn founded the Wynne Health Group, a government and public relations firm with operations in Denver, Los Angeles, and Washington, DC. In 2020, he and his wife Christy opened Colorado’s first “100% sober bar” in the Jefferson Park neighborhood of Denver.
“I believe that the natural medicines that will become available to Coloradans due to the Natural Medicine Health Act hold great promise for helping patients with mental illness, an aspect of medicine where there are currently profound shortfalls in access and quality,” wrote Wynne in his Board application. “I have benefited from the use of psilocybin in a therapeutic setting and thus believe I can bring some valuable personal experience to the work of this Board. More broadly, my long career in health policy should be beneficial to the Board’s work, particularly with regard to considering ways to ensure equitable access to these medicines, including via coverage by private and public insurance programs.”
Wynne is Chair of the Public Health and Health Equity Subcommittee, and he serves on the Products, Research, and Data Subcommittee.
Sofia Chavez, PhD
Sofia Chavez of Lakewood, CO will represent the Indigenous and religious use of psychedelics. Chavez is a board-certified Doctor of Natural Medicine. According to LinkedIn, she graduated from the Metropolitan State University of Denver and the Institute of Bioenergetic Medicine. For the past six year, Chavez has served as a Community Liaison at Denver Health “strengthening relationships between the Denver Health Pena clinic and Hispanic community.” For twenty-three years, she has offered therapeutic services at Estara Health and Wellness, in Lakewood, Colorado.
According to a profile hosted by the GlobalMindEd Conference, Chavez “was raised with the healing traditions of her ancestors from Cubero and Tijeras New Mexico,” and she has “continued to learn the healing ways of her ancestors” and Mesoamerican healing techniques. Chavez reportedly studied with Dr. Clarrisa Pinkola Estés, who was also appointed to the Natural Medicine Advisory Board, at her Archetypal and Cross-Cultural Studies Institute.
“I have promoted clinical and public awareness in the areas of natural medicine for more than 30 years,” wrote Chavez in her Board application. “My elders were indigenous people of color, this work of promoting awareness, instilling respect, advocating for research, and addressing historical trauma will improve the determinants of health and increase social justice for all people living in Colorado.”
Chaves serves on the Indigenous and Religious Use and Outreach Subcommittee.
Bradley Connor, PhD
Bradley Connor of Fort Collins, CO will represent the fields of natural medicine therapy and research. Connor is a Professor at Colorado State University, where he leads the Development of Addictive & Risky Behaviors Lab and directs the Masters in Addictions Counseling. Connor attended college and completed a masters and Doctor of Clinical Psychology degree at UCLA. His latest research appears to have focused on the identification of substance use conditions, the co-consumption of cannabis and alcohol, and telehealth services for suicide prevention.
“This is an important initiative and appropriate implementation is going to be key,” wrote Connor in his Board application. “Stakeholders need to be involved, especially those with experience in the area.”
Conor is Chair Products, Research, and Data Subcommittee, and he serves on the Emergency Response, Safety, and Ethics Subcommittee.
Wendy Buxton-Andrade of Lamar, CO fills a board seat focused on disparities in access to healthcare. Buxton-Andrade serves as the Prowers County Commissioner for District 3. According to her commission profile, Buxton-Andrade earned a degree in marketing from Metropolitan State College in Denver. She reports having twenty-five years of varied business experience, which includes running a medical staffing service in Denver. Buxton-Adrade chairs the state’s Opioid Settlement Board for Region 19, which includes nine Colorado counties.
According to public records obtained by the Denver Post, in her Board application, Buxton-Andrade wrote: “I do worry [that] adolescents will normalize the use of psychedelics with this proposition being passed. As elected officials, we need to make sure that we regulate natural medicine, just as we do pharmaceuticals, because they can be equally dangerous to our communities and most importantly to our [constituents].”
Buxton-Adrade serves on the Public Health and Health Equity Subcommittee and the Harm Reduction and Public Safety Subcommittee.
Skippy Leigh Upton Mesirow
Skippy Leigh Upton Mesirow of Aspen, CO occupies a seat focused on determining the criteria for approving permitted organizations. According to Mesirow’s campaign website, he is Colorado’s youngest City Councilperson. He is a Founder of the Elected Leaders Collective, which promotes mental health for elected officials, public sector workers, and first responders. A former competitive skier and collegiate national champion, Mesirow describes himself as a passionate advocate for the environment, community connection and empowerment, mental wellbeing, and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).
“As a sitting City Council member, I do deep policy and legislative work in the mental health space, supporting progressive policy. I have lived and continue to evolve in my own mental health journey. Therapeutic plant medicine retreats have been a significant part of my journey and growth,” wrote Upton Mesirow in his Board application. “Amongst legislators who could serve on this commission, I have deep personal experience, extreme passion, and deep lived and studied knowledge of the field, and an amazing network to call on. I am Zendo trained as (a) psychedelic sitter, and will be taking a psychedelic certificate program to myself serve in this field.”
Mesirow serves on the Indigenous and Religious Use and Outreach Subcommittee and the Products, Research, and Data Subcommittee.
Ernestine “Tina” Gonzales, PhD, MA, MS
Ernestine Gonzales of Colorado Springs, CO will represent the fields of health insurance, healthcare policy, criminal justice reform, and healthcare equity. There is little or no information available online regarding Gonzales. However, according to the Denver Post, she oversees the operations of Beacon Health Options. In this role, she has worked with the state’s Department of Corrections on programming to help released inmates transition back to working in their communities.
In her Board application, Gonzales wrote, “I found the best way to being a voice, share experiences, and being a catalyst of change is to get involved with those who impact legislation.” She added, “[w]itnessing what is happening in the communities, boot on the ground and bringing those experiences to those who may not be able to speak with our neighborhoods or rural communities allows for new perspectives on issues.”
Gonzales serves on the Indigenous and Religious Use and Outreach Subcommittee and the Public Health and Health Equity Subcommittee.
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Members serving four-year expiring January 31, 2025
At the full board meeting on August 18, 2023, the board announced that Governor Polis had appointed Stacy Loucks to fill the seat of former board member and chair Katina Banks. Existing board member Lundy replaced Banks as chair. Loucks was not present at the August 18 meeting.
Loucks is a government relations & public affairs strategist with Agora Civic Engagement. Loucks is the third public relations professional appointed to the board, following the appointment of Billy Wynne and Ricardo Baca. Psychedelic Week could find no evidence that she has expertise or experience with psychedelics. However, she has experience in state cannabis licensing.
Prior to joining Agora Civic Engagement, Loucks was Executive Director of Denver Excise & Licensing, the city’s central business-licensing department before stepping down and being replaced with Ashley Kilroy. The department manages licenses for medical and adult use cannabis businesses.
Earlier, Loucks worked in the offices of two Denver mayors, Michael B. Hancock and Guillermo Vidal.
Lundy of Denver, Colorado occupies a seat focused on behavioral health and disparities in access to healthcare services. Lundy is a self-described entrepreneur and licensed mental health clinician completing their ordination process at Highlands Church North Denver. They report applying their training in psychology and theology to business. Lundy previously co-founded Circus X Productions, an arts production company “curating experiences for a spiritually conscious world.”
In their Board application, Lundy wrote, “I am uniquely qualified and passionate about health equity within the natural medicine sector in light of my intersections as a non-binary and queer person, mental health and natural medicine entrepreneur, licensed professional counselor, and someone with lived mental health experience personally transformed by natural medicines.” They added, “I also started my first company in the cannabis industry (2014) and have first-hand experience about ways the Natural Medicine Advisory Board can learn from and not repeat lesions from the inequities within the cannabis industry, especially as an underrepresented entrepreneur.”
Lundy serves on the Public Health and Health Equity Subcommittee and the Products, Research, and Data Subcommittee.
On the full board meeting on August 18, 2023, it was announced that Lundy was replacing Katina Banks as Chair of the Natural Medicine Advisory Board.
Suzanne Sisley, MD
Dr. Sue Sisley of Scottsdale, AZ will represent mycology and natural medicine cultivation. Sisley is an Arizona-based physician practicing Internal Medicine & Psychiatry. She is well known for her controlled substance research. According to her professional profile, Sisley is President of the Scottsdale Research Institute and best known as principal investigator for the only FDA-sanctioned randomized controlled trial on the safety and efficacy of smoked marijuana for treating PTSD in combat veterans. Sisley serves as a member of the Adjunct Faculty in the Department of Sociology at Cal Poly Humbolt.
Sisley serves on the Products, Research, and Data Subcommittee.
Katina Banks, JD
On August 18, 2023, the board announced that Katina Banks had left the Natural Medicine Advisory Board. Governor Jared Polis replaced Banks with Stacie Loucks and appointed Lundy board chair in place of Banks.
Attorney Katina Banks of Denver, CO fills a seat focused on the criteria for approving permitted organizations. In 2018, Banks joined the intellectual property team of Denver law firm Baker Hostettler. Her professional profile states she has over seventeen years of legal experience with expertise in copyright, trademark, and advertising law. Banks serves on the advisory council of the Mathew Shepard Foundation, a civil rights organization. She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and Capital University Law School.
“Throughout my professional legal career I have believed in giving back to my community and enjoy volunteer service for the greater good,” wrote Banks in her Board application. “Also I have significant civic board/commission experience to help advance the important public work of these special administrative bodies.”
Banks served as the inaugural Chair of the Natural Medicine Advisory Board and a member of the Qualifications Training and Licensing Subcommittee. However, Banks participated in few subcommittee and full board meetings.
Ricardo Baca of Denver, CO will represent Indigenous use of psychedelics, public health, drug policy, and harm reduction. According to his LinkedIn profile, Baca was the Denver Post’s first marijuana editor from 2013 - 2016. He is currently the Founder and CEO of Grasslands, a marketing and public relations firm in Denver. In 2017, Fortune Magazine named Baca one of the seven most powerful people in America’s marijuana industry. He earned an undergraduate degree in journalism from the Metropolitan State University of Denver.
In his Board application, Baca wrote: “After a lifelong career in journalism . . . I’ve found my passion for serving my community in roles I couldn’t hold as a journalist — and it would be an honor to play a role in this historic process.”
Baca serves on the Indigenous and Religious Use and Outreach Subcommittee and the Harm Reduction and Public Safety Subcommittee.
Alisa Hannum, PhD
Alisa Hannum will represent mental and behavioral health providers and issues confronting veterans. According to her profile at the EMDR Training Academy, Hannum is a clinical psychologist in the VA Eastern Colorado Healthcare System. She received her PhD in clinical psychology from West Virginia University in 2010 and completed a National Research Service Award Postdoctoral Fellowship in suicide prevention at the University of Rochester Medical Center. Dr. Hannum’s research has primarily focused on suicide prevention and the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Hannum is Chair of the Qualifications, Licensing, and Training Subcommittee, and serves on the Emergency Response, Safety, and Ethics Subcommittee.
Clarissa Pinkola Estés, PhD
Clarissa Pinkola Estés of Denver, CO will serve as a representative of Indigenous and religious use of psychedelics. The Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame describes Estés as an award-winning poet, certified Jungian psychoanalyst, post-trauma recovery specialist, and cantadora (keeper of the old stories in the Latina tradition). Estés graduated from Red Rocks Community College and Loretto Heights College before receiving her doctorate from The Union Graduate School in ethno-clinical psychology, the study of groups with an emphasis on Indigenous history. She has been in clinical practice with war veterans and persons who are survivors of massacres and disasters for over 50 years.
“Having served before with DORA for 13 years as governors’ appointee to Colo. State Grievance Board, I see the deep importance of civic participation for public safety and for better lives for our citizens,” wrote Pinkola Estés in her Board application. “I think I can help to bring new helping ways, while honoring old ways that still work well.”
Estés is Chair of Indigenous and Religious Use and Outreach Subcommittee, and she serves on the Harm Reduction and Public Safety Subcommittee.
Joshua Goodwin, PhD
Joshua Goodwin of Aurora, CO will represent military veterans. According to his LinkedIn profile, Goodwin is a retired Air Force Office of Special Investigations counterespionage case officer and special agent. He is CEO of Operation True North Colorado, a mental health company designed for veterans, first responders, and their families. Goodwin received his doctorate in executive leadership from the University of Charleston, West Virginia, a master’s in industrial and organizational psychology from Argosy University, and a bachelor’s in in criminal justice and psychology from Excelsior University.
Goodwin is Vice Chair of the Natural Medicine Advisory Board. He also serves on the Emergency Response, Safety, and Ethics Subcommittee and the Public Health and Health Equity Subcommittee.
Sheriff David Lucero
Sheriff David Lucero of Pueblo, CO will represent the field of criminal justice reform. He is a twenty-two-year law enforcement veteran, having spent eighteen years with the Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office. Lucero was sworn in as Sheriff on January 10, 2023.
Lucero serves on the Emergency Response, Safety, and Ethics Subcommittee and the Harm Reduction and Public Safety Subcommittee.
Stay tuned to Psychedelic Week for more news on Colorado’s Natural Medicine Advisory Board.
*The views expressed on Psychedelic Week do not represent the views of Harvard University, POPLAR at the Petrie-Flom Center at Harvard Law School, Florida State University, or the Florida State University College of Law. Psychedelic Week is an independent project unaffiliated with these programs and institutions.
Mason Marks, MD, JD is the Florida Bar Health Law Section Professor at the Florida State University College of Law. He is the senior fellow and project lead of the Project on Psychedelics Law and Regulation (POPLAR) at the Petrie-Flom Center at Harvard Law School and an affiliated fellow at the Information Society Project at Yale Law School. Marks teaches constitutional law, administrative law, drug law, and psychedelic law. Before moving to Florida, he served on the Oregon Psilocybin Advisory Board where he chaired its Licensing Subcommittee. Marks has drafted drug policies for state and local lawmakers. His forthcoming book on psychedelic law and politics will be published by Yale University Press. He tweets at @MasonMarksMD and @PsychedelicWeek.