Magic mushrooms may be on the 2020 ballot

Peter Dejong/AP file

“Magic mushrooms” containing psilocybin could be legalized for use in clinical settings in Oregon under an initiative that could qualify for the 2020 ballot. The mushrooms above are from the Netherlands.

An Oregon ballot measure to legalize the use of psilocybin in therapeutic settings has gained enough signatures to appear on the November ballot, if those signatures can be verified.

Chief petitioners of Oregon Psilocybin Therapy Initiative, or Initiative Petition #34, Sheri and Tom Eckert, said Monday during a Zoom press conference that the campaign has gathered 164,782 signatures.

If elections officials verify they have submitted enough valid signatures, the measure will appear on the November ballot.

The campaign believes they will know for sure by mid-July.

IP 34 would legalize the use of psychedelic mushrooms in controlled doses and administered by professionals in the state.

Oregon would be the first state to legalize the substance, which is currently a Schedule I drug. Cities like Oakland, California, and Denver have already decriminalized psilocybin.

“Pioneering research at institutions like Johns Hopkins, NYU, and UCLA has shown the significant promise of psilocybin therapy,” said a press release put out by the campaign Monday, “especially for people whose depression or anxiety hasn’t responded to other available treatments.”

It’s a cause the Eckerts have championed for years that now is closer than ever to appearing on the Oregon ballot in November.

The effort got a $1 million boost from Dr. Bronner’s soap company in May.

“We just want to send a signal to the donor community that this is a really important ballot measure to support,” CEO David Bronner said at the time.

If the measure passes, it won’t mean psilocybin will be widely available in the same way cannabis is. Instead, it will “empower the Oregon Health Authority to set up all licensing, training, certification, and ongoing education requirements for psilocybin service centers and facilitators during a mandated two-year development process,” according to the legalization campaign’s press release.

Only license holders will be able to “provide psilocybin therapy, cultivate psilocybin, or own a psilocybin service center,” under the measure, and the measure would not allow people to take or grow psychedelic mushrooms in their homes, or leave a treatment facility while still under the influence of psilocybin.

The use of the substance will be highly structured, with therapy recipients going through a pre-screening, a supervised therapy session and a post-use evaluation.

“Oregon has some of the highest rates of depression, anxiety, and addiction in the country,” Sheri Eckert said in the release. “As a therapist, I … am intimately aware of how mental health affects our communities — not only people suffering from mental health conditions but their families and loved ones as well.”

“I also know that the options we have to help those people are just not enough.”

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