Forget the stigma: Psychedelics aren’t just for the Merry Pranksters anymore. This fall, with the Oregon Psilocybin Services Act, Oregonians can vote to approve psilocybin — the “magic” part of psychedelic mushrooms — for therapeutic use.
Tom and Sheri Eckert are the chief petitioners of Initiative Petition 34, as it was known during the signature-gathering phase. The Eckerts, Beaverton-based counselors who have long been advocates for psilocybin therapy, filed the petition to get this on the ballot in 2019.
Between November 2019 and July 2020, campaigners collected more than 132,000 verified signatures from people across the state, well more than the 112,020 necessary to qualify for the state ballot. Now that it has qualified, its title has changed from IP 34 to Measure 109, which is how it will appear on the ballot.
Stephanie Head is a volunteer based in the Eugene-Springfield area who helped gather signatures for the campaign. Head says that she was inspired to help after hearing the research behind how psilocybin can help someone struggling with treatment-resistant depression. She said this research corroborated her own experience with it, calling it “life-changing.”
A study published in the journal European Neuropsychopharmacology in April said that a single dose of psilocybin can be associated with “long-term increased mindfulness” due to changes in one of the brain’s serotonin receptors.
You’re not going to find any shroom dispensaries, though; proponents of this measure want to make it clear that legalizing psilocybin for therapeutic use would not be like legalizing recreational marijuana, and there would be a two-year waiting period to figure out therapist licensing and other rules before the public can participate.
This measure also doesn’t call for decriminalizing the drug, but it will be on the ballot alongside Measure 110, which supports decriminalizing all drug possession, including psilocybin.
Head says the volunteer team had to work extra hard to get the required support to get the initiative on the ballot since they couldn’t campaign in person during the COVID-19 pandemic. She encourages interested voters to donate to the campaign and have conversations with friends and family.
“Some people really have it ingrained that this is a party drug,” she says. “I really encourage people to look at some of the research on how this can really help people.”