Oregon is a day away from making history and potentially forming a regulated medical system for psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy. As Oregon votes on bringing Measure 109 closer to achieving its goal, let’s take a quick look at the developments around the state ballot on psilocybin, and its impact on the medical and legal sectors.
Measure 109 Timeline
One in six people experiences a mental health issue and most of them face difficulties in accessing mental healthcare in Oregon, according to the Lund Report. The promising results of psilocybin treatment stand as a hopeful alternative to dealing with many mental health-related issues like PTSD, anxiety, and depression.
Measure 109 is an Oregon ballot allowing the residents of the state to vote on the decriminalization of psilocybin for medical treatment. The ballot will determine “a program for administering psilocybin products, such as psilocybin-producing mushrooms and fungi, to individuals aged 21 years or older,” Ballot Pedia reports.
The movement to decriminalize psilocybin was initiated by the husband-and-wife duo Tom and Sheri Eckert, who are also the founders of the Oregon Psilocybin Service Initiative. The couple is working on the draft of the Psilocybin Service Initiative of Oregon with the state legislative council.
The couple started by launching the Oregon Psilocybin Society in 2016, as “an evolving coalition of individuals, networks, and organizations which, in response to a growing body of reputable research, aims to raise awareness about the safety and benefits of controlled ‘Psilocybin Services'” and is currently carrying forward the vision to get the supervised medical use of psilocybin legalized on the 2020 Oregon Ballot.
In November 2018, the movement gathered momentum when Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum signed the approval for Measure 109 ballot language.
Now, the public ballot for the breakthrough therapy is up for a decision, like so much else in America, on November 3.
How Will it Work?
Measure 109 aims at establishing a “state-licensed psilocybin-assisted therapy system”. Psilocybin is regulated as a Schedule I drug under US drug policy, prohibiting its use in any form. This petition-turned-ballot would allow people to access treatment for mental health issues.
Once approved, the Oregon Health Authority will be deemed responsible for carving out the specifics of the program. Various measures would be put in place over a period of two years, during which OHA will be working with the Oregon Psilocybin Advisory Board (OPAB). The committee will set guidelines on the purchase, possession, and consumption of psilocybin at a specific psilocybin centre.
The committee will also create a professional code of conduct for practitioners to earn their licenses, determining qualifications, training, and required exams.
Who Supports Oregon Measure 109?
The Democratic Party of Oregon is one of the main supporters of Measure 109.
Members of Veterans of War have also extended their support to the petition, expressing their confidence in psychedelic-assisted therapy. Moreover, Dr. Bronner, a California soap manufacturer and frequent backer of psychedelic nonprofit ventures, has pledged to invest two million dollars in the cause.
Who Opposes Measure 109?
The Oregon Psychiatric Physicians Association (OPPA) has come out as the main opposition to the movement. “Measure 109 is unsafe and makes misleading promises to Oregonians who are struggling with mental illness,” OPPA writes in its open statement.
Another strong voice of dissent for the petition-come-ballot comes from Kevin Sabet, a former drug policy advisor for Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama. “Medical research should not be the purview of a popular vote,” Sabet tells OPB News.
Ritika is a Toronto-based reporter. She writes about drug policies and developments in psychedelics.