An effort to legalize the active ingredient of psychedelic mushrooms, psilocybin, is one step closer to getting on Oregon's ballot for the 2020 election. The measure received a draft ballot title this week after petitioners collected just over 1,000 signatures.
The two chief petitioners, Beaverton therapists Tom and Sheri Eckert, still have to wrangle more than 100,000 signatures to get the measure on the ballot for the general election.
If passed, the measure, officially titled the Oregon Psilocybin Service Initiative, would open up use of the psychedelic for therapeutic use, allowing the drug to be manufactured in Oregon and offered to adults in a controlled setting.
The couple has stressed in previous interviews that the push to allow psilocybin has few parallels with cannabis legalization: There will be no marketed mushroom products and no new crop of mushroom dispensaries. Rather, the measure would create a system where adults, after getting medical clearance from a doctor, would be assigned to a facilitator, who would guide them through their trip at a licensed facility.
Recent trials have shown the drug to be a highly effective weapon against mental illness. The therapists believe combining it with therapy could reverse what they call a "mental health crisis here in Oregon," mitigating rates of addiction, anxiety, suicide and treatment-resistant depression in the state.
"Psychedelics are uniquely powerful when it comes to creating lasting change in the human being," Tom Eckert told OPB earlier this year. "It's a unique opportunity and it's been denied for all these years."
If the measures passes, the Oregon Health Authority would be tasked with taking the first steps. According to the petition, the authority would spend two years researching the effect of psilocybin on mental health, creating a “regulatory framework” for implementation, and establishing an advisory board. In 2023, the health authority would begin to oversee the creation of psilocybin products and service centers.
The state has opened up the initiative petition for public comment until Aug. 21.