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.