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Most Oregon Voters Favor Legalizing Psilocybin Mushrooms For Medical Use, Poll Finds

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Next year, Oregon voters could decide on a ballot initiative to legalize the medical use of psilocybin and otherwise reduce penalties for possessing and growing mushrooms containing the hallucinogenic compound. According to a new poll, a slim plurality of voters are in favor of the proposal.

But the survey also found that support grows significantly when parts of the proposed measure are clarified, as opposed to just reading voters the officially approved ballot title alone. That suggests a well-funded public education campaign by the measure’s organizers could be well positioned make history by making Oregon the first state in the country to legally allow the use of federal Schedule I drugs beyond marijuana.

Oregon’s attorney general certified the ballot language of the Psilocybin Service Initiative, which is being spearheaded by the Oregon Psilocybin Society (OPS), in November. The group still needs to collect about 140,000 valid voter signatures on a petition to qualify the measure for the 2020 ballot, and the new polling data will likely help with fundraising to support the effort.

When participants were only given the ballot title, 47 percent said they favored the measure, 46 percent opposed it and seven percent were undecided.

But then the pollsters provided participants with questions that summarized the two main aspects of the measure.

1. “Do you support or oppose creating lawful access in Oregon to therapeutic psilocybin services at licensed facilities under the supervision and care of licensed facilitators?”

When the question was phrased this way, support jumped to 64 percent.

2. “Do you support or oppose reducing existing criminal penalties for the unlawful manufacture, possession, and delivery of psilocybin?”

Fifty-four percent said they support this part of the measure.

“These early polling numbers demonstrate that the campaign is indeed viable and that the possibility of success is real. But we have our work cut out for us,” OPS co-founder Tom Eckert told Marijuana Moment. “Support rises significantly when people know what is actually in the initiative, which means that educating the public is critical.”

The survey also listed a number of arguments in favor of the measure, asking respondents to pick the three they found most compelling. The most commonly chosen responses were that psilocybin can treat end-of-life anxiety and depression, replace many treatments “pushed by Big Pharma companies” and help individuals suffering from addictions like alcoholism.

Interestingly, in spite of how the substance is often portrayed in popular culture, only six percent thought the idea that psilocybin can “offer a mystical-type experience which often leads to lasting change” was a particularly compelling argument. Similarly, the notions that psilocybin services “can help restore our broken relationship with nature” or “can help support personal growth” also did not seem to move a large number of voters.

Only seven percent said that psilocybin can help people quit smoking, while several studies have demonstrated that effect.

OPS recruited DHM Research to conduct the online survey, which involved 618 registered voters. The margin of error was +/- 4.9 percentage points.

Increasingly, there’s chatter among drug reform advocates that the fungus-derived psychedelic could follow a similar track as marijuana. Both substances have research-backed therapeutic potential and pose a relatively low health risk.

Separate from the statewide Oregon effort, a Denver-based group is also working toward reform and submitted signatures for a psilocybin decriminalization initiative earlier this month.

Denver Psilocybin Decriminalization Campaign Submits Signatures For Ballot

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia/Mädi.

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.

Kyle Jaeger is Marijuana Moment's Los Angeles-based associate editor. His work has also appeared in High Times, VICE and attn.

Politics

Beto O’Rourke Proposes Drug War Reparations Funded By Marijuana Taxes

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Marijuana would not only be legalized under a plan proposed on Thursday by Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke, but cannabis tax revenue would be used to directly repay formerly incarcerated people through a new “Drug War Justice Grant” program.

Unlike other contenders who have come around to supporting marijuana legalization in just the past couple of years, the former Texas congressman has long called for ending prohibition—and his new plan in many respects goes further than those rolled out by other campaigns.

Please visit Forbes to read the rest of this piece.

(Marijuana Moment’s editor provides some content to Forbes via a temporary exclusive publishing license arrangement.)

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.
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Politics

Support Grows For Marijuana Legalization Bill In Colombia

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Colombia’s legislature will soon take up a bill to legalize and regulate the production and consumption of marijuana for adults.

The legislation, which is being filed by Sen. Gustavo Bolivar of the opposition Colombia Humana party, seeks to end prohibition as a means of curtailing crime and supporting a public health-focused approach to drug policy.

Bolivar, an author who has written several books centered on drug trafficking, has characterized the bill as being about “regularization, not legalization,” but it would provide for legal sales to adults with restrictions similar to those imposed for tobacco and alcohol. There would be penalties for selling to underage individuals and smoking wouldn’t be permitted in public spaces.

The senator pointed to Uruguay, Canada and states in the U.S. as regulatory models for legalization.

“It has been proven that crime levels are lowered and public health is improved,” he said, according to Colombia Reports.

Sen. Alberto Castilla Salazar of the leftist Polo Democrático party said that his coalition supports the reform measure.

“Colombia must overcome prohibitionism and break the ties of illegal groups with the control of cannabis, so that it is the State that regulates, defines the forms and understands consumption as a public health problem,” he said on Tuesday.

Sen. Julián Gallo Cubillos of the FARC party said his coalition supports the legislation and that it represents “a new way to fight the scourge of drug trafficking.”

The proposal has also garnered the support of former President Juan Manuel Santos, who has been an outspoken advocate for ending the war on drugs. His Liberal party could make or break the legislation depending on where members fall.

While left and center-left lawmakers seem largely united around legalizing marijuana, the issue will likely face resistance from President Ivan Duque, who last year signed a decree banning low-level possession of cannabis and cocaine despite court rulings that such activity is permissible.

As Colombia Reports noted, however, Duque’s far-right Democratic Center party is in the minority.

“We’ll have to see how many senators are left to former president Juan Manuel Santos and see how public opinion receives the idea that marijuana can be consumed in public spaces,” Sen. Paloma Valencia, a member of the president’s party, said.

If the country does opt to pursue a regulated cannabis program, it will join Mexico, where lawmakers are readying legislation to legalize marijuana for adult use following a Supreme Court ruling establishing that a ban on possession and cultivation for personal use is unconstitutional.

Former White House Drug Czar Offers Marijuana Legalization Advice To Mexico

Photo courtesy of Brian Shamblen.

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Marijuana Offenses Would No Longer Get Immigrants Deported Under New Congressional Bill

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The fourth highest-ranking Democrat in the House introduced a bill on Wednesday designed to protect immigrants from being deported or denied entry into the U.S. over low-level marijuana offenses.

Assistant Speaker Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) filed the Removing Marijuana from Deportable Offenses Act, which stipulates that “any offenses involving the use, possession, or distribution of marijuana shall not be considered as grounds of inadmissibility.”

It would further allow immigrants who’ve been denied a visa or deported due to cannabis offenses to reapply or have their visa reissued.

In a press release, Luján said that the legislation is necessary in order to combat what he described as the “despicable” weaponization of marijuana against immigrant communities by the Trump administration. According to Human Rights Watch, 34,000 immigrants were deported from 2007 to 2012 for cannabis possession.

“The federal government should not be wasting resources to wreak havoc on immigrant families when there are children held in border camps that are desperate for legal services, hygiene products, and basic humanitarian care,” he said. “Providing care for these children and families should be where the Trump administration devotes its funding – not working as a deportation force.”

“I’m proud to be fighting for this legislation to hold President Trump accountable and defend our immigrant communities from senseless and hateful policies,” he said.

The legislation is identical to a companion bill that Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) introduced in June.

“This Administration’s efforts to use marijuana possession as a tool for deportation is misguided and does not make our communities safer,” Booker said. “Limited law enforcement resources should not be wasted on deporting people for something two of the last three presidents have admitted to doing.”

Earlier this year, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services issued a memo stating that immigrants are ineligible for citizenship if they use marijuana or engage in cannabis-related activities, including employment in a state-legal cannabis business, because such activity is not consistent with “good moral character.”

So far, the House version has 21 cosponsors, including Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Lou Correa (D-CA), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Jim McGovern (D-MA), Eric Swalwell (D-CA), Dina Titus (D-NV), Nydia Velázquez (D-NY), and Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ).

“We’re the closest that we have ever been to ending marijuana prohibition across the United States; it’s vital that individuals and communities that continue to bear the brunt of prohibition do not get left behind—that includes noncitizens,” Queen Adesuyi, policy coordinator for Drug Policy Alliance, said. “Marijuana has been one of the leading causes for deportation, destroying the lives of countless individuals and families over a substance that is now the center of an industry bringing in billions in profits.”

FWD.us President Todd Schulte called the proposal “commonsense legislation that will help keep families together and ensure taxpayer dollars aren’t wasted on cruelly deporting individuals with low-level offenses.”

“The status quo of marijuana criminalization is irrational and discriminatory towards tens of thousands of otherwise law-abiding aspiring Americans who pose no safety risk to the United States,” NORML Political Director Justin Strekal said. “Public opinion and policy surrounding cannabis are rapidly shifting, which is why we must ensure that those who strive to achieve the American Dream are treated with dignity.”

Also this week, Luján became of cosponsor of separate far-reaching legislation to remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act and divert funds toward programs to begin repairing the damage of the war on drugs.

Read the text of Luján’s marijuana and immigration bill below:

Lujan marijuana bill by Marijuana Moment on Scribd

Key Congressional Chair Says Marijuana Banking Vote Will Happen Over Groups’ Objections

Photo courtesy of Philip Steffan.

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.
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