Oregon Votes YES To Psilocybin

Oregon Votes YES To Psilocybin

So— it’s finally happening!

Oregon just became the 1st US state to legalize psilocybin on Tuesday night— which also happened to be Election Day (as you may have heard…

Also referred to as Measure 109, Oregon residents voted to allow access to psilocybin for therapeutic use. Even without a note from your doctor. However, the psychedelic compound is still illegal if you use it without a therapist or licensed trip sitter.

Oregon state also decriminalized psilocybin in a separate vote (you may recall Washington D.C. doing the same thing recently). This means that if you hold just enough for one person to trip — around 0.5 to 5 grams— then you won’t be in danger of being arrested.

You’ll Have to Wait 2 Years (Which Is Better Than Nothing) 

After a development stage, Measure 109 will be enacted in 2 years for Oregon residents. 

The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) will watch over the cultivation, growth, and distribution of legal psilocybin. OHA will also draft rules for consumer tax, and the right to replicate clinical trials. In the end, the success of psilocybin as a legal drug for research and therapy will depend on how OHA builds its framework.

A Chance to Enjoy the Time They Have Left

In a “Vote Yes to 109” press release, Dr. Nick Gideonse, a physician and hospice medical director, cited his support:

“We have so many tools for physical pain, but for many facing the end of life, mental anguish and existential fear leave people stuck in a cycle of anxiety and depression in their final days and weeks. Psilocybin therapy has demonstrated its potential to help these patients through this suffering, and go on to enjoy the time they have left.” 

Researchers have found psilocybin to decrease feelings of anxiety and depression in patients with chronic illnesses, such as cancer. Other studies have also found psilocybin to be effective for those struggling with mental illness, who may find no relief from Big Pharma anti-depressants.

Johns Hopkins researcher Matthew Johnson published new data this week which saw 2 doses of psilocybin, paired with psychotherapy, to be enough to greatly improve symptoms of major depression.

Passing Measure 109 should fast-track further research into psilocybin and its potential benefits for people with depression, anxiety, and PTSD— as well as many other conditions which confound traditional treatment.

Beyond Clinical Trials, Into the Real World 

In a press release, Heather Jackson, Board President of Unlimited Sciences, a psychedelic research nonprofit, pointed out:

“Legalization and decriminalization in Oregon and Washington D.C. will now allow us to do what we think is so vital…and that is to collect data in the naturalistic setting.” 

“Naturalistic setting”, as opposed to clinical setting, refers to when psilocybin is studied outside of a lab. This will yield anecdotal reports on how people react to the compound, such as personal testimonies. At present, clinical settings, not naturalistic ones, have hosted the most reliable trials using psilocybin… with trained scientists monitoring users before, during, and after giving them the compound.

Legalizing psilocybin will grant access to thousands of potential users. Which should provide enough anecdotal reports to support existing clinical data. We just have to wait two years…

According to Roland Griffiths, a psychopharmacologist, the key to more extensive research is funding from the National Institutes of Health, since most of their studies thus far have been done through philanthropic donations.

“We are bound by a federal regulatory statute and the Oregon initiative does not address that. They announced their intention to work with the federal government over issues having to do with drug regulation, but the devil’s in the details here.” 

– via Business Insider 

This means that federal agencies – such as the FDA and DEA – still need to approve any psychedelic drug research Griffith’s team does in Oregon. Simply put, state policies like Measure 109 cannot influence federal ones, especially when it comes to drug use and research. 

Potential Spike In Negative Side-Effects? 

Matthew Johnson, a researcher at Johns Hopkins University, said:

“If the ultimate implementation of [Measure 109] is not done in the right way, you could have adverse outcomes and then people will step back and say, ‘All of that stuff I’ve been reading about the promising use of psychedelics as medicine, those studies at Johns Hopkins and those studies at UCLA, etc? They weren’t what they were cracked up to be.” 

If Oregon fails to include screening measures and monitoring of patients during and after psilocybin use, then there, in theory, could be more reports of negative side-effects, such as cardiac arrest or psychosis. Any negative publicity could undermine existing and future research, Johnson says. But the researcher is confident of Measure 109 enacting in two years— regardless of how Oregon figures out the guidelines.

“We’re not saying it should happen, but since it’s happening, we’re going to learn something from it.” 

Fresh Start for the American Psychosphere 

Oregon’s decision to vote YES to Psilocybin signals a ray of hope for the United States as a whole.

Paul Austin, founder of the Netherlands-based psychedelic retreat company Synthesis, said that Measure 109 could “boost mindfulness in society as a whole”.

“[Psilocybin] can be incredibly effective at just helping to cultivate more peace, more equanimity, and more stillness in everyday life, which then makes it much easier to respond, rather than react to, everything that’s going on around us.” 

In such a tumultuous world, perhaps this is just what the doctor ordered.

So what do you think? Will other US states follow Oregon’s lead to legalize psilocybin? 

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