The chairman of the volunteer board writing Oregon’s rules for psilocybin has resigned. The departure comes after board members were asked to disclose any conflicts of interest.
Tom Eckert and his late wife, Sheri Eckert, championed the 2020 ballot measure that created Oregon’s new system for taking hallucinogenic mushrooms. As chairman of the Oregon Psilocybin Advisory Board, Eckert was helping to write the policies under which the ballot measure will operate. Sheri Eckert died in December 2020, just after voters approved Measure 109.
In a resignation letter Thursday, Eckert said he is mindful of appearances and doesn’t want anything to distract from the work. He also said he looks forward to supporting the development of Oregon’s psilocybin infrastructure in new and different roles.
“It is a day of satisfaction for me, knowing that I have helped carry out the bold policy-making mission that my late, great wife Sheri and I initiated some seven years ago,” he wrote. “Over the course of this journey, I have had the honor of working closely with brilliant individuals and organizations — a confluence of interests —supportive of legalizing psilocybin services in Oregon, the first state ever to do so.”
VICE recently reported that Eckert was in a relationship with the CEO of a Dutch psychedelic retreat company, Synthesis. Willamette Week has reported that Synthesis plans to open a clinic in Oregon and that other board members had called for Eckert to resign.
Oregon Health Authority leaders issued a written statement thanking Eckert for his service and wishing him the best. With regard to board members being asked to declare conflicts of interest, the state said it has encouraged the psilocybin advisory group to work with the Oregon Government Ethics Commission. The state has invited commission officials to talk to the board at its next meeting.
“Oregon Health Authority has ensured that members of the Oregon Psilocybin Advisory Board have received information about compliance with Oregon’s ethics laws and has encouraged board members to work with the Oregon Government Ethics Commission on any questions about conflicts of interest,” according to the state health agency statement. “The Oregon Government Ethics Commission provides guidance to public officials on what constitutes actual and potential conflicts of interest and also receives and investigates complaints related to violations of conflicts of interest.”