Oregon makes history legalizing 'magic' mushrooms, decriminalizing small amounts of other drugs
Oregon made history Tuesday night, passing two statewide ballot measures that affect the use of controlled substances and related criminalization.
Measure 109 passed with 56% of the vote, making Oregon the first state to legalize the use and production of psilocybin products, as well as psilocybin-assisted therapy.
Psilocybin therapy uses a medicine derivative found in "magic mushrooms" in conjunction with guided therapy to address mental health challenges.
Under the measure, patients will not need a prescription or formal diagnosis to participate in the therapy. But the legalization isn't immediate.
The measure stipulates a two-year program development period, during which the Oregon Health Authority would learn more about the therapy and adopt rules for implementation, allowing people age 21 and older to access it.
Supporters of the measure say the experience is safe and has unparalleled benefits, especially for people who have not found relief from traditional talk therapy, medications or other methods.
Oregon results: Get live election updates here
The therapy has been given a breakthrough distinction by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. But opponents to the bill said not enough studies have been done, especially to definitively say it treats conditions such as depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.
"Oregonians suffering from depression and anxiety have a new option for hope," said Sam Chapman, campaign manager for Yes on 109, Tuesday. "Tomorrow we turn to the work ahead: ensuring we create an equitable and regulated program that maximizes health and safety for all who stand to benefit."
About 59% of Oregonian voters approved Measure 110, making Oregon the first state to decriminalize possession of small amounts of drugs, including heroin and cocaine.
Proponents of Measure 110 said drug addiction is currently treated as a crime, not as a health disorder. With the removal of punishments for nonviolent drug offenses and better access to recovery services, they maintain individuals would have a better chance of getting their lives back on track.
However, opponents fear it will support drug use habits and lead to more people using illegal substances — particularly youth — and could result in additional overdose deaths.
The measure limits criminal penalties for possession of controlled substances for personal and non-commercial uses. It also establishes drug addiction treatment and recovery programs using the state's marijuana tax revenue.
"I think Oregonians made it clear that they support a more humane, effective approach to drug addiction," Anthony Johnson, one of the measure's chief petitioners, said Tuesday night. "We took a huge step for funding more treatment and recovery services, and for ending racist drug war policies."
With the measure's passage, Oregon becomes the first state to eliminate criminal penalties — currently classified as misdemeanors — for the possession of small quantities of specific drugs by both adults and juveniles.
Instead, individuals would receive $100 fines, which could be waived if the person receiving them is assessed at a recovery center.
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