Oregon Moving Towards Psilocybin Legalization

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Image credit: agooey74 at Photostream

A ballot measure to permit the licensed manufacturing and medical administration of psilocybin, a psychoactive compound responsible for the psychedelic effect of “magic mushrooms,” has received the approval of the Oregon Attorney General. The approval of the language of this ballot measure means the initiative can move forward to the petitioning stage and needs only a total of 140,000 verified signatures to appear on the ballot in 2020.

Petitioning is currently being spearheaded by the Oregon Psilocybin Society (OPS), an initiative to “advance a breakthrough therapeutic model currently being perfected in research settings at top universities around the world,” according to the OPS website.

What exactly does OPS hope to see legalized? We’re glad you asked.

Psilocybin is a natural compound found in over 200 species of mushroom and is well known for psychedelic properties sought after for spiritual and recreational reasons. Psilocybin-induced experiences are known to vary widely depending on the attitudes and psychological preparation of the user, typically referred to as “set and setting.” The psychiatric use of psilocybin has frequently been the subject of scientific research since the compound was first isolated in the 1950s, but has been depicted in cave drawings estimated to be as old as 6000 years old in Europe and 8000 years old in Africa.

A double-blind study performed at Johns Hopkins University on the use of psilocybin in cancer patients found that high doses of the Schedule I drug “produced large decreases in clinician- and self-rated measures of depressed mood and anxiety, along with increases in quality of life, life meaning, and optimism, and decreases in death anxiety.” Proponents of psychedelic medicine, such as the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), frequently cite similar findings in other studies.

Oregon is among 10 states within the United States that have decriminalized the recreational use of marijuana, which similarly to magic mushrooms, is a naturally occurring biological entity that finds itself on the United States Drug Enforcement Administration’s infamous Schedule 1, which is reserved for “drugs, substances, or chemicals [that] are defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” The push to legalize marijuana has changed the legal status rapidly, and “psychedelics,” which are hallucinogenic substances capable of producing reportedly profound experiences, could be the next domino to fall as the war on drugs comes to an end.

Interest in legalizing psilocybin is also evident in another west coast state: California. The California Psilocybin Mushroom Decriminalization Initiative, an attempted ballot measure to fully decriminalize psilocybin to a more extreme extent than the proposition in Oregon, did not receive the number of signature required to appear on the 2018 ballot.

Oregon is presented with the opportunity to become a trendsetter, much like the states of Colorado and Washington did in 2012 by tying for first place in the weed legalization race. Portland, Oregon’s largest city, is home to a growing psychedelic counterculture where thousands of people frequently come together to express their psychedelic enthusiasm. How the Beaver State will respond to this opportunity is still unknown, but considering the unique culture of the Oregon population, turning it down may very well be out of character.

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Nathaniel Owen is the Chairman and co-founder of Being Libertarian. He is a writer, musician, homeschooling advocate, and libertarian, and typically addresses issues from an economic point of view. Nathaniel is a member of the Goldwater Institute, a Friend of the Rare Book School at the University of Virginia, and has been a member of the Libertarian Party since 2012.

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