A campaign to legalize psilocybin mushrooms for therapeutic purposes received a $150,000 contribution from the soap company Dr. Bronner’s.
The announcement came on Friday, the same day that the Oregon Psilocybin Society (OPS) held an event to formally launch its signature gathering drive to qualify the measure for the state’s November 2020 ballot.
Under the Oregon Psilocybin Services Act, adults would be able to visit licensed facilities to have the psychedelic administered under the supervision of medical professionals. While research has demonstrated that the substance holds unique potential to treat mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, people wouldn’t have to be diagnosed with any particular condition to qualify under the law if approved by voters next year.
Retail sales would not be allowed, and psilocybin couldn’t be marketed like cannabis is in the state.
“The Bronner family is no stranger to severe depression and anxiety,” David Bronner, CEO of Dr. Bronner’s, said in a press release. “We firmly believe that the integration of psilocybin therapy, to which the FDA recently granted a special ‘breakthrough designation’ is crucial to heal epidemic rates of depression, anxiety, and addiction that pharmaceutical drugs are completely inadequate for.”
“This therapy enables people to process difficult and traumatic emotions and experiences, break destructive patterns of thought and behavior, and love, integrate and forgive themselves and each other,” he said. “People connect to the deeper spiritual ground of their being and to the miraculous living natural world we are one with.”
The psychedelics reform movement has made major gains in 2019, with Denver becoming the first city in the U.S. to decriminalize psilocybin and Oakland later opting to decriminalize the fungi and several other entheogenic substances. Activists are collaborating all across the country now to get decriminalization measures on local and state ballots.
Oregon’s push to legalize psilocybin for therapeutic use is unique in that respect, but its omission of a decriminalization element has been a source of contention among other reform advocacy groups such as Decriminalize Nature Portland.
OPS originally drafted an initiative that would have reduced criminal penalties associated with psilocybin, but the group decided to scrap that provision and rewrite the proposal—in part because it heard that the Drug Policy Alliance would be pursuing broad drug decriminalization in the state through a separate measure.
“The intent of the 2020 Psilocybin Service Initiative of Oregon is to pass the Oregon Psilocybin Services Act and advance a breakthrough therapeutic model currently being perfected in research settings at top universities around the world,” OPS Co-founder Sheri Eckert, who is leading the campaign with her husband Tom, said. “The service model involves a sequence of facilitated sessions, including assessment and preparation, psilocybin administration, and post-therapy integration.”
“We envision a community-based framework, where licensed providers, along with licensed producers of psilocybin mushrooms, blaze trails in Oregon in accordance with evolving practice standards,” she said.
In a separate blog post, Bronner addressed concerns from researchers who are worried that the far-reaching ballot measure could jeopardize their careful, focused approach to demonstrating psilocybin’s medical benefits through federally approved studies.
“Tom and Sheri accurately see that the cultural tide is shifting, and that now is the time for a responsible measure like PSI 2020 that creates a safe, strictly regulated environment to bring the underground therapy movement aboveground, and provides an example outside of the traditional pharma model for responsible regulated adult access to psilocybin therapy,” he wrote. “It’s also important to understand that the state ballot measure process is the only political mechanism that exists for providing this kind of broad responsible adult access. Much like the medical cannabis trajectory, passing this measure will invite federal officials to consider tolerating a responsible innovation in state law via our federalist states’ rights system, even where those state policies differ from federal policy.”
“In fact, I believe a resounding yes vote by Oregonians affirming their right to access responsible psilocybin therapy will only galvanize research and interest, and send a clear message to federal regulators to allow Oregon’s program to go into effect without federal interference, much like state medical cannabis programs that also technically conflict with federal law,” Bronner said.
In order for the initiative to qualify for the November 2020 ballot, OPS must collect 112,020 signatures by July 2.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia/Mushroom Observer.
Trump Says Marijuana Makes People “Lose IQ Points” In Secret Recording
President Trump could be heard saying that using marijuana makes people “lose IQ points” in a secretly recorded conversation released on Saturday.
“In Colorado they have more accidents,” the president said in the clip captured by Lev Parnas, an associate of Trump attorney Rudolph Giuliani, who is at the center of the Ukraine scandal that led to the president’s impeachment. “It does cause an IQ problem.”
(Marijuana Moment’s editor provides some content to Forbes via a temporary exclusive publishing license arrangement.)
Photo courtesy of YouTube/White House.
Austin Police Chief Says Marijuana Arrests Will Continue Despite City Council Vote
Chief Brian Manley said he would continue to enforce marijuana laws the day after the city council unanimously approved stopping arrests and tickets for low-level cases.
The day after the Austin City Council approved a resolution to stop arresting or ticketing people for most low-level marijuana possession offenses, the police chief made clear he had no plans to do so.
“[Marijuana] is still illegal, and we will still enforce marijuana law if we come across people smoking in the community,” Chief Brian Manley said during a news conference Friday afternoon.
Though cracking down on those in possession of small amounts of marijuana has never been a priority for the department, he said, police will continue to either issue tickets under the city’s “cite-and-release” policy or arrest people if officers “come across it.”
The difference, according to City Council member and resolution sponsor Greg Casar, is that the council’s move now guarantees those actions will come with no penalty. Tickets will be meaningless pieces of paper and any arrests will result in a quick release with no charges accepted from prosecutors, he told The Texas Tribune after the news conference.
“What has changed since yesterday is that enforcement, almost in virtually all cases, is now handing someone a piece of paper with no penalty or no court date,” Casar said.
The move by the City Council came as a direct result from Texas’ new hemp law which complicated marijuana prosecution across the state. Last summer, when lawmakers legalized hemp, they also changed the definition of marijuana from cannabis to cannabis that contains more than 0.3% THC, the psychoactive ingredient in the plant.
Many prosecutors, including those in Austin’s Travis County, now won’t accept pot cases based on look and smell alone, requiring lab testing to determine THC levels before accepting a case. Such testing is not yet available in public crime labs, though some counties and cities have spent money to obtain test results from private labs.
The council’s resolution prohibited using city funds or personnel to conduct such testing in non-felony marijuana cases. It also directed the elimination, to the furthest extent possible, of arrests or citations for cannabis possession. As Manley also noted, the resolution clarifies it can’t technically decriminalize marijuana, since that is state law.
The resolution gave the city manager until May 1 to report back to the council on how police were trained in this new resolution, and Casar said he hopes Manley reviews his policies before then.
Manley said in the news conference that he would continue to review the resolution, as well as police policies.
But, he assured, “a City Council does not have the authority to tell a police department not to enforce a state law.”
The Texas Tribune is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.
Andrew Yang Wants To Legalize Psychedelic Mushrooms For Military Veterans
Andrew Yang says he wants to legalize psilocybin mushrooms for military veterans to help them combat mental health conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
During a town hall event at an Iowa college on Thursday, the 2020 Democratic presidential candidate was asked whether he would take initiative and allow veterans to access medical marijuana if elected. Yang replied he “will be so excited to be that commander-in-chief” that he would not only end federal cannabis prohibition but would go one step further by legalizing the psychedelic fungus for veterans as well.
“We need to get marijuana off of the Controlled Substances Act and legalize it at the federal level, make it freely available,” he said. “I say this because I’ve talked to hundreds of veterans and other Americans who benefit from marijuana as a pain relief treatment, and it’s much less deadly than the opiates that many, many people are using for the same conditions.”
“I’ve talked to veterans who’ve also benefited from psilocybin mushrooms,” he added. “They said it was the only thing that actually has helped combat their PTSD. I’m for legalizing psilocybin mushrooms for veterans as well. Pretty much if it’s going to help a veteran, we should make it easier, not harder, for them to get access to it.”
Yang’s drug policy reform platform is unique in that respect. While the majority of Democratic candidates support marijuana legalization, he’s pushed unique proposals such as decriminalizing possession of opioids and making psilocybin mushrooms “more freely available” for therapeutic purposes. The candidate also wants to invest federal funds in safe injection facilities where individuals can use prohibited drugs in a medically supervised environment and receive help getting into treatment.
He hasn’t gone so far as embracing the decriminalization of all drugs, as former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg has, however.
That said, Yang did signal that he’s open to legalizing and regulating “certain drugs” beyond cannabis, which he argued would disrupt international drug cartels. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) recently said she backs “legalizing and regulating” currently illegal controlled substances to protect public safety and combat the illicit market.
At the Iowa town hall, Yang went on to say that he’s particularly interested in legalizing marijuana, and he again pledged to “pardon everyone who’s in jail for a non-violent marijuana-related offense because they shouldn’t be in jail for something that’s frankly legal in other parts of the country.”
“And I would pardon them all on April 20, 2021, high-five them on the way out of jail and be like, ‘things got a lot better in the last year,'” he said, referencing the unofficial cannabis holiday 4/20.
Photo element courtesy of Gage Skidmore.