Election 2022 – Psilocybin Measures 17-111 and 17-110

In 2020 Oregon voters approved the medical use of psilocybin as well as regulated production of it. However, before Measure 109 takes effect in January of 2023 the law allows city councilors and county commissioners to decide whether or not to legalize it within their boundaries. The Grants Pass City Council agreed in July to allow psilocybin service centers where the production of the substance, which comes from hallucinogenic mushrooms, in state licensed facilities. No retail dispensaries will be selling “magic mushrooms,” as psilocybin is known, to the public. Permits will be issued for the carefully controlled manufacture of psilocybin and treatment with the hallucinogenic will be in clinical settings only under the supervision of a trained facilitator, according to OHA.

Rather than take a position on psilocybin, Josephine County Commissioners chose to let the voters decide. Measure 17-110 asks voters if psilocybin should be manufactured in the county and Measure 17-111 asks if service centers should be allowed. A ballot “quirk,” according to Assistant Legal Counsel Allison Smith, allows the voters of Grants Pass and Cave Junction to weigh in on whether or not to allow service centers and manufacturing of psilocybin in the county even though their cities have gone down a different path. Cave Junction will have it’s own question on the ballot, Measure 17-09, asking voters to decide if a moratorium of two years should pass before allowing or banning psilocybin within city limits. They want to see how it works out in other cities before allowing it there.

Public Health Director Michael Weber put together a presentation for county commissioners during a workshop in June.  At that meeting Dr. Kelly Burnett of AllCare Health said although psilocybin hasn’t been approved by the FDA yet, clinical trials have shown it can be life-changing for veterans with severe PTSD and for others suffering with hard-to-treat depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, anxiety due to terminal illness, severe headaches and substance abuse.

“Some of these people are at high risk of suicide, unable to work and make frequent visits to the ER which costs us all money,” she said. “For people like this psilocybin can be a game changer.”

Dr. Burnett made a point of saying psilocybin hasn’t been legalized for recreational use and will be carefully controlled for clinical use only by the Oregon Health Authority. She said patients take the hallucinogen in micro-doses probably dispensed in capsules to be swallowed.

During an earlier discussion at a commission workshop, Sheriff Dave Daniel and Community Development Director Mark Stevenson expressed concern that the legalization of psilocybin would result in another illegal grow boom. Stevenson said if voters approve the use of psilocybin here they can at least try to control it by determining time, place and manner of growing it. Burnett said unlike marijuana medical doses of psilocybin are so small it won’t take much to produce them. Psilocybin can be produced synthetically. For more on psilocybin production see https://trippywellbeing.com/the-psilocybin-supply-chain-every-production-method-explained/

At a public hearing on the ballot measure in July, Commissioners heard from people opposed to legalizing psilocybin, even for medical use only. About 14 people, including Sheriff Daniel, said we learned from legalizing marijuana for medical use only that it didn’t stay for medical use only and that it has brought nothing but headaches since. Many were concerned about the same things Sheriff Daniel was, that approval would allow psilocybin to creep to full legalization and illegal manufacturing like marijuana.