Oregon became the first state in the nation to create a program where licensed service providers can administer hallucinogenic mushrooms and fungi products to adults who are 21-years-old and up. The state also passed an initiative to decriminalize possession of certain commonly used street drugs.

Measure 109, a 71-page act, establishes the Psilocybin Mushroom Services Program under the Oregon Health Authority. The government agency now has two years to create a program for dispensing psilocybin, a hallucinogenic compound found in some mushrooms and fungi. Clients would be able to purchase and consume the drug at a psilocybin service center, under the supervision of the licensed providers.

Oregonians also voted in favor of Measure 110, which decriminalizes possession of small amounts of narcotics such as heroin, LSD, cocaine, methamphetamines, hydrocodone, codeine and anabolic steroids. The initiative also establishes a drug addiction treatment and recovery program, with funding through marijuana tax revenues and anticipated state savings from reductions in arrests, incarceration and supervision.

With 80% of the vote counted so far, Measure 109 has 56% of voters in favor and 44% voting against. Measure 110 has so far captured 59% of the vote with 41% voting against it. 

The Oregon Psilocybin Society led the Yes on 109 campaign to pass the mushroom measure. As reported in Psychedelic Science Review, the society was founded in 2016 by Tom and Sheri Eckert, therapists who have an office in Beaverton, just outside of Portland. The couple believe psilocybin can be helpful in treating various mental health issues.

The Yes on 109 campaign website said, “Pioneering research at America’s top universities shows that psilocybin therapy can help many that are suffering from depression, anxiety, and addiction. Measure 109 is a carefully crafted ballot measure supported by medical experts, veterans, and people from over 300 Oregon cities to bring this “breakthrough therapy” to Oregon.”

In an interview with the Portland Business Journal, Tom said, “A growing body of research shows that psilocybin therapy helps to address a spectrum of mental health issues, like depression, anxiety and addictions, including alcoholism and even cigarette smoking. It’s also shown to promote a sense of overall well-being, openness, eco-mindedness, and spirituality.”

He added, “So the potential benefits vary widely and come about in a very personalized way. It’s an entirely different approach than typical pharma-based interventions, because the experience itself is the change agent. It helps you to work things out for yourself.”

Sheri has been a speaker at the Spirit Plant Medicine Conference (SPMC), where she was given a “Cosmic Sister Women of the Psychedelic Renaissance” award for her presentation.

She told the Journal about her use of psilocybin, “Like millions of Americans, we’ve had some profound experiences with psychedelics. As far as describing it, I really can’t.” She added that “the scientists at Johns Hopkins have done a great job of isolating elements of the experience, like a sense of oneness, connectedness, a sense of transcendence, sacredness and ineffability — which is why we can’t describe it.”

The American Psychiatric Association disagreed, opposing Measure 109. In a letter to Oregon Secretary of State Bev Clarno, Saul Levin, the group’s CEO and Medical Director said, “It is unwise to authorize treatment that is not yet approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).”

Levin asserted, “As medical experts in psychiatric care, we are concerned about determining medical treatment by ballot initiative. Such treatment should be evidence-based and determined solely by professional standards of care. Science does not yet indicate that psilocybin is a safe medical treatment for mental health conditions. While the FDA [Food and Drug Administration] has granted psilocybin breakthrough therapy status, this does not establish the safety and efficacy of this treatment, it merely establishes the process by which to further study the treatment.”

Levin noted that the FDA had approved more research for the drug as a treatment for major depressive disorder, not anxiety, depression and addiction.

Measure 110 reclassified the personal, non-commercial possession of some narcotics from Class A misdemeanors to Class E violations. Violators now will receive either a $100 fine or complete a health assessment for substance abuse disorder. Individuals who manufacture or distribute illegal drugs would still be subject to a criminal penalty.

Ballotpedia reported that the measure received support from many groups, including the Democratic Party of Oregon, the ACLU, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon, and NARAL Pro-Choice Oregon. Almost $6 million dollars was raised to support the measure.

The group Oregon Recovers opposed the measure, arguing, “Measure 110 is so poorly written it will lead to additional unnecessary deaths, further destabilize Oregon’s fractured and incomplete behavioral health system, and will reduce enrollment in treatment centers across the state.” 

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