Oregonians in dozens of counties, cities will vote on psilocybin bans in November
Alex Baumhardt/Oregon Capital Chronicle
Oregonians in 57 cities and 26 of the state’s 36 counties will vote in November on banning or postponing psilocybin treatment centers in their areas.
The centers were first approved by state voters in 2020 with almost 56% of the vote supporting Measure 109. The vote made Oregon the first state in the nation to legalize such treatment. The program will be launched by the Oregon Health Authority in January.
But the measure included a process for cities and counties to back out of legalization, allowing a vote on local bans or a two-year moratorium before joining the rest of the state. They had until Aug. 19 to file paperwork with the Secretary of State’s office to put it on the November ballot.
At least 27 cities have ensured access to psilocybin treatment, including 17 of the state’s most populous cities.
Psilocybin is a hallucinogenic substance found in some mushrooms that has been shown to effectively treat anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress.
A slight majority of residents in Deschutes County, about 53%, voted to approve Measure 109 in 2020, helping to get it passed statewide. But the county’s commissioners recently opted to put the question on the November ballot by a 2-to-1 vote.
Commissioner Phil Chang was the lone dissenter.
At a press conference Tuesday, Chang said he did so because counties have a responsibility to make sure residents can get needed medical care. Counties “are the local public health authorities for their communities,” he said. “I want people in my community to have access to effective treatments.”
Sam Chapman, executive director of the nonprofit Healing Advocacy Fund, which is supporting the rollout of Measure 109, also said at the news conference medical centers offering psilocybin treatments will be regulated by the Oregon Health Authority. A draft of the final rules will be ready in September, and will be finalized and adopted by the agency by Dec. 31. The health authority will begin taking applications for treatment centers and providers on Jan. 2.
Chapman estimates more than 2 million people could seek psilocybin therapy in Oregon if it’s implemented statewide.
“Oregon will become a destination of sorts for people who don’t want to leave the country for this treatment, which is currently the only option,” he said.