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Psilocybin Measure Approved For Oregon's November Ballot

Tom Eckert and his wife, Sheri, are the co-sponsors of the Psilocybin Service Initiative.
Tom Eckert and his wife, Sheri, are the co-sponsors of the Psilocybin Service Initiative.

An initiative to allow the therapeutic use of psilocybin in Oregon has qualified for the November ballot.

If approved by voters, Oregon would be the first state to allow some legal use of the drug, which is found in psychedelic mushrooms.

Backers of the initiative, who collected well over the 112,020 valid signatures needed to qualify, said they believe licensed therapy using the drug can help treat depression and anxiety.

“This careful, regulated approach can make a real difference in peoples’ lives and we’re looking forward to bringing this program to the state,” said Sheri Eckert in a statement from the psilocybin campaign. She is a chief petitioner of the measure along with her husband, Tom Eckert.

The psilocybin initiative will appear on the ballot with a separate measure that would decriminalize all drug use — including for psilocybin — and boost funding for treatment programs.

Tom Eckert said in a 2019 interview with OPB they decided not to move toward full legalization of psilocybin.

“It doesn’t parallel cannabis,” he said. “There’ll be no dispensaries. Nobody is buying this and taking it home with them.”

The measure calls for a two-year phase-in of a program to license therapists to treat patients with psilocybin.

Backers have spent nearly $1.2 million on their campaign so far, according to disclosure reports filed with the secretary of state. Just over $1 million of that came from New Approach PAC, a Washington, D.C. group that has also been involved in several cannabis legalization campaigns.

Copyright 2020 Oregon Public Broadcasting

Jeff Mapes is a senior political reporter at Oregon Public Broadcasting. Previously, Jeff covered state and national politics for The Oregonian for nearly 32 years. He has covered numerous presidential, congressional, gubernatorial and ballot measure campaigns, as well as many sessions of the Legislature, stretching back to 1985. Jeff graduated from San Jose State University with a B.A. in journalism.