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Oregon County Proposes Ban on Psilocybin Therapy

Linn County leaders are proposing to ban the use of psilocybin therapy centres authorized by a state ballot measure that legalized the therapeutic use psychedelic mushrooms. The Linn County Board of Commissioners approved a plan that would ban psilocybin therapy centers and their production. This proposal will be presented to voters at the November 2022 general elections.

Oregon voters approved Measure 109 (Ordinary Psilocybin Services Act) in 2020. It legalized the therapeutic usage of psilocybin. The legislation will be enacted by state officials. This law authorizes the establishment of centers in which trained facilitators can dispense psilocybin to treat patients.

Measure 109 gives local governments the ability to control psilocybin therapy centres or refer the issue to their community. On June 21, the three-member board of commissioners voted to put a measure banning the psilocybin therapy centers in Linn County before voters in this year’s general election.

“My fear is of young people taking mushrooms and going out and doing things that may cost them their life,” Linn County Commissioner Roger Nyquist told the Albany Democrat-Herald.

“I just think it’s appropriate to refer this measure to the voters in Linn County and allow them to have a say in this, particularly because they did not vote to support this measure in the first place,” he added.

Commissioner Will Tucker expressed concern that first responders may not arrive quickly enough to help a person receiving psilocybin treatment in a remote area of central Oregon.

“I have people who are miles and miles from a service like a grocery store,” he told Filter.

Tucker pointed out that the proposed ballot measure, if it is passed by the Linn County voters would not apply to unincorporated areas. Although the proposal will not impact the unincorporated areas of the county, including Albany, the biggest city in the country, local officials are looking into a ban similar to psilocybin treatment centers. 

“I would love to see it done carefully and in controlled ways,” Tucker said. “My son suffers PTSD; an Iraq War sniper, he has 100 percent disability … If there’s a way his mental health can be affected by marijuana or other drugs including mushrooms, I’d be all for it.”

Only a few countries are moving to ban Psilocybin Therapy Centres

Evan Segura of the Portland Psychedelic Society says it doesn’t appear like there is a growing trend for counties to outlaw psilocybin treatment. Malheur County along Idaho’s border has suggested a ban. He said that there are already several marijuana dispensaries in this jurisdiction that attract customers from nearby states.

“I think these counties are anticipating there will be a huge wave of interest from Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, jumping over the state border to access psilocybin services,” Segura said. “These conservative counties are just not interested in being guinea pigs for this program, and I’m sure there’s a lot of drug-war prohibitionist hysteria that’s causing fear for them.”

Oregon voters approved Measure109 in 2020’s general election. 56% of ballots were in support of the initiative, while 44% voted against. Rural Linn County saw only 45% support psilocybin treatment centers, while 55% voted against the measure. Statewide, 21 of 36 Oregon voted against Measure 109, although the initiative’s success in more populous counties secured its passage.

Linn County Commissioner Sherrie Sprenger said she does not believe Measure 109 will achieve the stated goal of curbing the illicit market for psilocybin, an argument made for legalizing cannabis that she characterizes as “naive and ill-informed.”

“The situation many rural folks in Oregon find themselves in frequently is this idea that our voice wasn’t heard and our voice wasn’t taken into consideration,” Sprenger said. “Sometimes we feel like the metropolitan areas, i.e. Portland and Eugene make the decisions. Local voters need to have a say in their own community.”

Segura stated that many people opposed to psilocybin therapy centers fear that someone might get behind the wheel and drive an automobile right away after an all day session. This is especially true for those with limited means. He doesn’t believe there is a substantial risk to the argument.

“I think that situation is extremely rare,” Segura said. “I think if people can afford the session, they can afford a hotel, if not just stay at a service center that provides lodging. I think there’s minimal risk of someone going to do psilocybin then getting in their car and driving away.”

“We don’t ever hear of stories of people eating mushrooms and then doing something dangerous,” Segura added. “We would hear more of it if it happened more often.”