Oregon may become the first state to legalize ‘magic’ mushroom therapy on Election Day

Oregon may become the first state to legalize ‘magic’ mushroom therapy on Election Day

  • On November 3, Oregon residents will vote on whether to legalize psilocybin, the psychedelic component of "magic" mushrooms. It'd be the first state to do so if the bill, called Measure 109, is passed.
  • Small clinical trials have shown psilocybin decreased anxiety and depression and improved people's overall life satisfaction.
  • Four cities across the US have already decriminalized the substance, meaning it's a low-priority to law enforcement.
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On November 3, Oregonians will vote on whether to legalize psilocybin, the psychedelic ingredient in "magic" mushrooms.

If Measure 109 passes, Oregon will be the first state to legalize the substance for therapeutic uses. For anyone who isn't using the substance under the guidance of a therapist or other licensed facilitator, possessing psilocybin would still be considered illegal.

Magic mushrooms have been on the psychedelic scene for decades, but they've recently gained traction in the medical community as a potential treatment for anxiety and depression. Oregon's ballot measure could make the substance more readily available for those interested in its therapeutic effects.

Potential legalization amidst a psychedelic renaissance

In November 2018, researchers at Johns Hopkins published a paper urging the government to make psilocybin legally available in clinical settings after their small study showed the drug improved anxiety and depression in cancer patients.

New York University researchers have also conducted small studies of the psychedelic drug's psychological effects on cancer patients. Study participants with a history of mental illness have cited decreased depression, anxiety, and PTSD symptoms. Participants with no mental-health history have also noticed benefits, citing an improvement in "life satisfaction." 

Psychedelic researchers have said these studies helped spur a psychedelic renaissance in the US.

Microdosing, or taking such a small amount of a psychedelic substance that it may have a therapeutic benefit without the typical hallucinogenic side effects, has also increased in popularity in recent years. Some say microdosing psychedelics like psilocybin or LSD increases productivity. 

The discovery of ketamine, another psychedelic, as a depression treatment has added to the growing call to legalize psychedelic drugs for therapeutic uses.

Four cities have decriminalized the substance

Four cities — Denver, Colorado; Oakland, California; Santa Cruz, California; and Ann Arbor, Michigan — decriminalized psilocybin.

Under decriminalization, if a person grows, distributes, transports, or buys psilocybin, they are considered of the lowest priority to law enforcement. In Oakland, the measure also decriminalized the hallucinogenic plant ayahuasca.

If psilocybin is legalized in Oregon, a state where mushrooms, psychedelic and otherwise, naturally thrive, residents could obtain psilocybin and use it under professional supervision regardless of whether they have a diagnosed medical condition.

At the same time, Oregonians who have grown and used psilocybin under-the-radar for years worry the measure will stifle their progress.

"This poses a real challenge to what we've worked hard and risked our freedom to create," Gabe, a "magic" mushroom grower who spoke with GQ reporter Colin Groundwater, said. He believes government regulation could make the substance less accessible to everyone.

Other opponents to the measure have said it could make psilocybin less accessible to people who can't afford a facilitator, buy from more expensive government-run operations, or are under intense law enforcement scrutiny.

"What about undocumented people, the homeless, people who don't have insurance or people who don't have ID?" Zave Forster, a member of Portland's Decriminalize Nature chapter, said to GQ.

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