Oregon activists are one step closer to getting a psilocybin legalization measure on the state’s 2020 ballot.
While an earlier version of the proposal was introduced last year, the organizers behind it are putting their resources into a similar but revised initiative that would create a regulatory framework for the legal use of psilocybin for therapeutic purposes.
The new petition to get the Oregon Psilocybin Services Act on the ballot was filed in early July. More than 1,200 signatures were submitted a couple weeks later, prompting the state’s attorney general to propose a draft ballot title on Wednesday.
The measure “creates [a] regulatory program allowing licensed manufacture, delivery, and administration of psilocybin (psychoactive substance from fungus),” the ballot language states. Under the draft, voters would also see the following “yes” and “no” descriptions:
Result of “Yes” Vote: Allows licensed manufacture, delivery, administration of psilocybin (psychoactive substance from fungus) by/to qualifying adults; creates regulatory/enforcement/taxation system, advisory board, program administration fund.
Result of “No” Vote: “No” vote retains current law, which prohibits manufacture, delivery, and possession of psilocybin and imposes misdemeanor or felony criminal penalties.
A public comment period on the language is open until August 21, and then petitioners must still collect more than 110,000 valid signatures from voters in order to qualify for the ballot.
If approved, the initiative would establish a division within the Oregon Health Authority to oversee licensing and regulations for the “production, processing, delivery [and] possession of psilocybin, and administration” of “psilocybin services” to qualified individuals 21 and older.
It would not provide for retail sales at shops. Rather, those who qualify would be able to visit a registered facility to purchase and consume psilocybin “under the supervision of a psilocybin service facilitator.”
While the purpose of the initiative is to provide people with psilocybin for therapeutic use, the text of the measure states that regulators “may not require a client to be diagnosed with or have any particular medical condition as a condition to being provided psilocybin service.”
The government would also be required to “examine, publish, and distribute to the public” studies that explore the “medical, psychological, and scientific” aspects of psilocybin, particularly as it concerns the treatment of mental health conditions such as “addiction, depression, anxiety disorders, and end-of-life psychological distress.”
Here’s the full summary approved by the secretary of state:
Summary: Currently, federal/state law prohibits the manufacture, delivery, and possession of psilocybin (psychoactive substance from fungus). Initiative amends state law to require Oregon Health Authority (OHA) to establish Oregon Psilocybin Services Program to allow licensed/regulated production, processing, delivery, possession of psilocybin, and administration of “psilocybin services” (defined) by licensed “facilitator” (defined) to “qualified client” (defined). Grants OHA authority to implement, administer, and enforce program. Imposes two-year development period before implementation of the program. Establishes fund for program administration and governor-appointed advisory board that must initially include one measure sponsor; members are compensated. Imposes packaging, labeling, dosage requirements. Requires sales tax for retail psilocybin. Preempts local laws inconsistent with program except “reasonable regulations” (defined). Exempts licensed/regulated activities from criminal penalties. Other provisions.
The psilocybin reform movement is making gains across the country after Denver became the first city in the U.S. to decriminalize the psychedelic mushrooms in May. Shortly thereafter, Oakland’s city council approved a measure to decriminalize not only psilocybin but a wide range of psychedelics including ayahuasca, mescaline and ibogaine, and Berkeley’s city council is considering a similar proposal.
But while advocates are working to take psychedelics decriminalization national—with two organizations so far striving to build on their success and help activists around the country bring reform to their jurisdictions—the Oregon measure is distinct in that it’s the only one currently aiming to create a way for people to legally obtain the substance though a medical model.
Meanwhile, activists in California are seeking to qualify a more modest proposal to decriminalize possession of psilocybin for their state’s 2020 ballot.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia/Alan Rockefeller.