On Tuesday November 3, 2020, Oregon became the first state to legalize psychedelic mushrooms. Approximately 56 percent of Oregon voters cast their ballots in favor of Measure 109, which legalized psilocybin, commonly referred to as psychedelic or “magic” mushrooms, for therapeutic use in supervised environments. The new Oregon measure will allow people in the state who are age 21 or older to access psychedelic mushrooms for personal development upon passing a screening conducted by a qualified therapist. People who use the drug will be able to do so at a psilocybin service center, with the supervision of a designated service facilitator. Oregon will have a two-year planning period, in which lawmakers will determine how the drug will be regulated, including qualifications for therapists intending to prescribe psychedelic mushrooms and for psilocybin facilitators. The program will be regulated by the Oregon Health Authority.
Voters in the District of Columbia also voted in the November election in favor of modifying criminal enforcement of the use of psilocybin (as well as other designated drugs), with a landslide of approximately 76 percent of voters in favor of the new law. Measure 81 directs police in the District of Columbia to treat non-commercial growing, distribution, possession, and use of “entheogenic plants and fungi” as among their lowest enforcement priorities.
Oregon and the District of Columbia follow a number of cities across the country that have decriminalized the use of psychedelic mushrooms. For example, in May 2019, Denver was the first U.S. city to decriminalize the use of psychedelic mushrooms. With a slim majority, Denver voters narrowly approved Ordinance 301, which decriminalized the possession of psychedelic mushrooms for adults age 21 or older. A number of U.S. cities have followed suit with similar laws, such as Ann Arbor, Mich., and Oakland and Santa Cruz, Calif.
So, how does one explain the legalization trend for psychedelic mushroom across U.S. jurisdictions? The answer likely relates to promising research results for psychedelic mushrooms as a therapeutic treatment. Research conducted at institutions, such as John Hopkins University, the University of California Los Angeles, and Imperial College in London suggest that psychedelic mushroom therapy could be helpful for patients experiencing depression, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and addiction. In Oregon, the potential therapeutic value of psychedelic mushrooms for individuals experiencing addiction prompted psychotherapists Sheri and Thomas Eckert to introduce and support Oregon’s Measure 109. As cities and states across the United States look to alternative therapies to help treat patients, the legalization trend for psychedelic mushrooms may follow cannabis legalization trends.
For more information on Oregon’s legalization measure, please visit here.
For more information on D.C.’s legalization measure, please visit here.