Oregon’s November Ballot suggests that the state is making meaningful strides to dismantle the war on drugs. Measure 110, The Drug Addiction Treatment and Recovery Act seeks to decriminalize low-level drug possession and expand access to addiction treatment services paid for by marijuana taxes. Measure 109, The Psylocibin Therapy Bill would establish a program allowing licensed mental health professionals to provide psilocybin therapy to adults 21 and older. Psilocybin is the psychoactive component in magic mushrooms. State Democrats are urging Oregon residents to vote “yes” on these initiatives.
The Drug Addiction Treatment and Recovery Act (Measure 110) needed 116,622 signatures to make it on the ballot. It received 156,009 signatures. What’s perhaps even more promising is the long list of local and national organizations that announced their support for Measure 110. “Oregon law enforcement officers in 2017 arrested more than 8,000 people in cases where simple drug possession was the most serious offense,” the initiative reads. “In many instances, the same people were arrested for drug possession, again and again, because they are unable to get treatment.” The Oregon Criminal Justice Commission determined that the decriminalization initiative would reduce felony and misdemeanor convictions for drug possession by 91 percent. They also projected that it would result in a whopping 95 percent drop in racial disparities for possession arrests.
The Psylocibin Therapy Bill (Measure 109) received endorsements from several state and national organizations. Like Measure 110, the initiative easily collected more than enough signatures to make it on the November ballot. Magic mushrooms as a viable therapeutic option has undergone a renaissance. The FDA declared psilocybin to be a “breakthrough therapy” just last year. Numerous studies on psilocybin treatment have shown that the drug can help treat anxiety, depression, PTSD, addiction, and end-of-life fear in terminally ill people. U.S. Congressman Earl Blumenauer is encouraging people to vote “yes” on Measure 109. Blumenauer writes that the initiative is “healthcare policy done right.” “I support 109 because it tackles an important issue in our community, mental health, and it does so in an innovative and responsible way,” the letter reads. “Measure 109 gives Oregonians who suffer from depression and anxiety the opportunity to overcome their mental health challenges through a program designed for safety and support.” If the measure passes, the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) is responsible for establishing the program and regulating it. OHA will have two years to develop the program. During the development phase, mental health professionals will research and make recommendations on administering psilocybin to treat mental health conditions. After that, the new law will allow “a client who is at least 21 years of age to purchase, possess, consume, and experience the effects of psilocybin at a licensed psilocybin service center during a psilocybin administration session with a licensed psilocybin service facilitator.” Both of the potentially revolutionary measures have garnered extensive support. If Oregon’s voters approve Measures 109 and 110 in November, Oregon will lead the country in progressive drug policies, and their success could encourage other states to follow suit.