Politics

Oregonians to Vote on Radical Drug Reforms

By Hilary Corrigan Jul 8, 2020
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A much anticipated psilocybin therapy measure has qualified for Oregon’s November ballot.

The measure, which would allow the hallucinogen found in “magic” mushrooms to be used for therapeutic purposes, is the first of its kind in the U.S. The intended therapy would enable trained facilitators to administer doses of the compound to help patients cope with harmful patterns of thought and emotion. In recent years, the concept has attracted interest from credible institutions.

The Oregon Psilocybin Therapy Ballot Measure needed 112,020 valid signatures to qualify and received about 20,000 more than that, according to the Oregon Secretary of State’s election division. Tom and Sheri Eckert, a married therapist couple in Portland, are the proposal’s chief proponents.

“This careful, regulated approach can make a real difference in people’s lives and we’re looking forward to bringing this program to the state,” Sheri Eckert said in a press release.

She anticipates talking with voters about the therapy, and why it’s “a part of our collective answer to the mental health crisis our state faces.”

“Oregonians deserve access to psilocybin therapy as a treatment option — and now we officially have a chance to win it,” Tom Eckert stated.

If the measure passes, the Oregon Health Authority would have a mandate to set up licensing, training and education requirements for therapy centers and facilitators over two years.

The campaign now plans to use advertising, social media and online communication tools like Zoom to inform voters.

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Another Oregon measure

A separate drug measure also recently qualified for the ballot in Oregon.

The Drug Addiction Treatment and Recovery Act would remove criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of all drugs. If it passes, Oregon would be the first state to decriminalize all drugs.

The effort aims to shift how the state addresses addiction and make treatment easier to access. It would use existing cannabis taxes to fund more addiction and recovery services, including housing, peer support and recovery centers. 

Proponents of ballot measures on cannabis and other issues have faced huge hurdles across the country as the COVID-19 pandemic slowed efforts to gather signatures. Several measures dropped out of the running and states largely blocked efforts for digital options and electronic signatures.