Oregon To Vote On Legalizing Shrooms, Decriminalizing All Drugs

By Lindsey Weedston 10/09/19

The Psilocybin Service Initiative of Oregon (PSI 2020) would allow residents to legally access psilocybin-assisted therapy.

Oregon resident voting on legalizing shrooms, decriminalizing all drugs

Oregon voters will soon decide on two major drug reform ballot measures that could result in the biggest changes to any state’s drug policies since Colorado and Washington state legalized cannabis in 2012.

One measure would legalize psychedelic mushrooms, commonly referred to as “shrooms” or “magic mushrooms,” and another would decriminalize all drugs within the state.

Oregon In Unique Position For Decriminalization

According to Vice reporter Jon Walker, a combination of factors that make Oregon unique are responsible for the fact that total drug decriminalization is possible anywhere in the U.S. in 2020.

“There is no single reason the state is so well-positioned to be a laboratory for drug reform,” Walker writes. “Instead, imagine a vast, multi-layered Venn diagram including public health needs, quirks of local history, unique funding opportunities, costs, arcane ballot access rules, demographics, and politics.”

So far, only the cities of Denver and Oakland have decriminalized shrooms. The Psilocybin Service Initiative of Oregon (PSI 2020) would allow residents to legally access psilocybin-assisted therapy, which has been increasingly tested as a remedy for a number of mental illnesses including treatment-resistant depression and PTSD.

Psilocybin is the active ingredient in shrooms and is a naturally occurring psychedelic that can produce sensory hallucinations and intensify states of emotion.

“We see this not only as a template for Oregon but for the rest of the country and the world,” said Sheri Eckert, a PSI 2020 petitioner. 

“We feel that Oregonians are ready to take an innovative approach to mental health care and the problem of addictions, because the current modalities and delivery systems have proven inadequate,” added Eckert’s husband, Tom.

Policy Modeled After Portugal

At the same time, the 2020 Drug Addiction Treatment and Recovery Act (DATRA) is on its way to the ballot. This bill is modeled after drug policy reform in Portugal, where all low-level possession of drugs has been decriminalized and funding is funneled away from law enforcement and into addiction treatment programs.

After passing this sweeping drug reform in 2001, Portugal saw its rates of problem drug use, HIV and hepatitis infection, overdose deaths, and drug-related crime plummet.

According to chief DATRA petitioner Anthony Johnson, in spite of Oregon’s progressive history of drug policy reform, much more work needs to be done.

“Oregon ranks 50th in the country in access to drug addiction treatment, and I’m hopeful about the prospect of redirecting a portion of cannabis tax revenue so that everyone struggling with addiction can have access to the treatment services they need,” said Johnson to Marijuana Moment.

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Lindsey Weedston is a Seattle area writer focused on mental health and addiction, politics, human rights, and various social issues. Her work has appeared in The Establishment, Ravishly, ThinkProgress, Little Things, Yes! Magazine, and others. You can find her daily writings at NotSorryFeminism.com. Twitter: https://twitter.com/LindseyWeedston