Oregon Moves to Legalize Magic Mushrooms With 2020 Ballot Measure
The state of Oregon will soon vote on a ballot initiative to legalize psilocybin, the psychoactive ingredient in “magic” mushrooms, in a 2020 election. If passed, the measure would decriminalize possession, allow administration from licensed professionals, legalize the manufacture and delivery, and create a regulatory program for its clinical use.
The measure comes in the wake of widespread legalization and decriminalization of state laws related to cannabis, as well as a multitude of government-sanctioned studies exploring the use of psychedelics to treat depression, PTSD, drug addiction, and chronic headaches.
In addition to changes in the social and political climate surrounding these substances, public health regulatory agencies are starting to recognize the clinical benefits of psychedelics, including the FDA which recently gave psilocybin breakthrough therapy status for treatment-resistance depression, meaning it will expedite development and approval processes for the drug’s use.
This recent wave of legalization marks a progressive turning point, after decades of oppressive and inane drug laws that have filled prisons (many of which are private and for profit), spawned opioid epidemics, and unfairly targeted minorities. And now it appears that the tides are slowly turning, potentially leading to a day when medical professionals can precisely and sensibly utilize an ancient plant medicine with healing potential.
Psilocybin is currently Schedule I – the same classification as drugs like cocaine and heroine – but if passed, the amendment would move to reclassify it as Schedule IV, the same as anti-anxiety medications such as Xanax. However, the drug could only be administered by a professional in a clinical setting and patients would remain in that setting until the effects of the drug wore off.
Oregon is not the only state attempting to legalize psilocybin as similar ballot measures are being proposed in certain California cities, as well as Denver, CO. However, Oregon is now the first state to attain the required number of signatures for the measure to make the 2020 ballot.
The Oregon measure is being headed by Tom and Sheri Eckert, two psychotherapists practicing in the Portland area, who also founded the Oregon Psilocybin Society.
“A growing body of evidence demonstrates that psilocybin assisted therapy is safe and uniquely effective. We think that this novel approach could help alleviate the mental health crisis here in Oregon by addressing costly epidemics like suicide, treatment-resistant depression and anxiety, PTSD, and addiction to drugs, alcohol, and nicotine. Additionally, the measure would open doors for new research, create access to services for those interested in personal development, and reduce penalties for common possession of psilocybin,” — PSI Chief Petitioners Tom and Sheri Eckert
A number of government-sanctioned clinical trials with psilocybin and other psychedelic substances have proven successful recently, particularly by researchers at Johns Hopkins and London’s Imperial College, for treatment of PTSD, depression, and drug addiction. In one breakthrough study headed by Dr. Robin Carhart-Harris, psilocybin was found to flip a “reset” mechanism in the brains of patients experiencing treatment-resistant forms of depression.
His work, as well as that of Dr. Roland Griffiths, has made drastic steps forward in the field of psychedelic therapy, opening up new modalities for patients who have exhausted all pharmaceutical options in treating severe mental illnesses.
Further anecdotal evidence has been found for the use of psilocybin in treating cluster headaches and chronic migraines. In fact, there is evidence that Albert Hoffman – the eminent discoverer of LSD-25 – was researching psilocybin as a potential treatment for headaches before it was criminalized in 1968.
For more on the history and use of psilocybin check out this episode of Psychedelica :
Is Psychedelic Tourism Destroying the Sanctity of Plant Medicine?
As psychedelic healing and plant medicine go more mainstream, luxury psychedelic tourism is on the rise—good news for the spread of this medicine, but how might over-commercialism affect this sacred practice?
A recent Bloomberg article highlights the rise in all-inclusive psychedelic retreats. Indigenous plant medicine has been around for centuries, and its health benefits have been scientifically demonstrated, but as it gains mainstream acceptance and finds a bigger audience, some only see dollar signs.
Bloomberg reports, “according to Data Bridge Market Research the psychedelic market is expected to grow from $3.8 billion in 2020 to $10.7 billion by 2027.”
With the potential to make a lot of money, could some unscrupulous companies capitalize on this trend and remove the sanctity of this practice?
Carlos Tanner is the director of The Ayahuasca Foundation in Peru, he founded the center in 2009 as the result of his own healing journey. “When I started our retreat center, The Ayahuasca Foundation, I was coming off of a seven-year study myself; a four-year apprenticeship where I lived with a curandero and several years after that of studying with other teachers,” Tanner said.
“For most people that were starting centers at that time—which wasn’t many—you were a student first, and eventually after years of study, you came to the point where you wanted to offer this to people from outside of the culture. Now we see people who don’t have very much experience at all, but yet they’re opening a healing center.”
As this budding industry is dealing with rapid growth, there are some complicated issues regarding its increased popularity.
“When it comes to the commercialization of substances that have an ancestral background I would say that it is a delicate situation, and I hope that there would be a benefit to those indigenous populations from which those traditions were orignated. But at the same time, I know many indigenous people and they are for the spreading of what they believe to be their culture, which oftentimes was something that was looked upon negatively or was degraded as if they were second-class citizens, quite literally,” Tanner said.
“But now having people from the Western world, from the modern world, want to learn or experience elements of their culture, I think gives them a sense of pride. So it’s a complex question, to say the least.”