Colorado Senate Passes Bill Restricting Social Media Praise of Certain Substances, Raising First Amendment Concerns

In a move that has raised alarm bells over First Amendment rights, the Colorado Senate has passed a bill that could restrict social media users from promoting certain substances, including legal psychedelics and hemp products. The bill, SB24-158, aims to address internet age verification and content regulations, but critics argue it goes too far in limiting free speech.

The revised bill, which passed with a 30-1 vote, would require social media platforms to promptly delete any user content that promotes, sells, or advertises “illicit substances.” While an amendment exempted legal cannabis from the bill, it still covers a wide range of legal and illegal substances, including certain hemp products and over-the-counter medications like NyQuil.

Critics argue that the bill is overly broad and could lead to the suppression of harmless and legal content. “The updated version would still prevent users from promoting legal medications, even though it exempts marijuana,” said Shoshana Weismann, a fellow at the R Street Institute. “And if you promote those medications, you will be reported to law enforcement. That is asinine.”

The bill’s language has also raised concerns among psychedelic advocates, who fear it could stifle education and discussion around safe and responsible use. “This bill would make it nearly impossible to even simply talk about plant and fungi medicine on any social media network without state monitoring,” said Kevin Matthews, director of the Denver campaign that decriminalized psilocybin.

Under the proposed legislation, social media companies would need to revise their policies and make them publicly available by July 1, 2025. They would also be required to provide annual reports to the state attorney general and keep user data and metadata for one year, raising concerns over privacy and the potential for data breaches.

Critics argue that the bill infringes on both the First Amendment, which protects free speech, and the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable search and seizures. As the bill moves forward, it remains to be seen how it will be implemented and what impact it will have on social media users in Colorado.

Keywords: Colorado Senate, social media, First Amendment, free speech, psychedelics, hemp products, cannabis, government overreach, privacy concerns.


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