Oregon on Wednesday became the first state to legalize the active ingredient in so-called magic mushrooms on an election night that saw more states ease restrictions on recreational drugs across the country.
Oregon’s Measure 109 will give legal access to psilocybin, the main active ingredient in “magic mushrooms,” for mental health treatment in supervised settings. As of Wednesday at about 6 a.m. ET, the measure was passing with 55.8% support and over 2 million votes cast, according to Oregon’s Secretary of State.
While some cities have moved to legalize and regulate access to the drug, Oregon will become the first state in the country to legalize it on a statewide basis if the measure passes and becomes law. Supporters of the measure point to the medical benefits of the drug, which has been shown in some studies to benefit trauma survivors.
Through Measure 110, which has captured more than 58% of the vote so far, Oregon would also decriminalize the possession of small amounts of some hard drugs, including heroin and LSD. Instead of criminal prosecution, people in possession would face a $100 fine, which can be waived if the person agrees to pursue treatment, according to the measure.
The field of psychedelic-enhanced therapy has increasingly garnered interest among investors, including big names like billionaire investor Peter Thiel.
Ronan Levy, the cofounder of Field Trip Health, a Toronto-based company that provides psychedelic-enhanced psychotherapy, said the ballot wins are “fantastic news” for what he called the psychedelic renaissance. His company went public last month and is traded on the Canadian exchange.
Research is mounting that indicates the benefits of using psychedelic drugs to enhance therapy, Levy said, adding that “there’s almost no mental health condition right now that’s not being looked at.” However, he added that, the drug alone isn’t necessarily helpful; it needs to be taken under supervision of trained personnel, which is what Field Trip Health offers.
Levy added that he expects more states to legalize the use of psychedelics in supervised settings in the years to come. He said there would have been more ballot measures up for vote this year, but the pandemic got in their way, making it difficult to garner enough signatures to land on the ballot.
In an election year like no other, Oregon’s not alone in the “psychedelic renaissance.”
In the District of Columbia, residents voted to decriminalize the use of magic mushrooms and other psychedelic substances, including the active ingredients in ayahuasca and peyote, with the passage of Initiative 81, the Entheogenic Plant and Fungus Policy Act of 2020. As of about 2 a.m. ET, the initiative had passed with a landslide 76.3% of the vote.
The measure doesn’t legalize the drugs, it makes possession of the them among the lowest enforcement priorities for D.C. police, according to the initiative, which still faces hurdles before it becomes law. The D.C. Council needs to approve the measure before sending it to Congress for review. Congress then has 30 legislative days to block it or allow it to become law.
A spokesman for the American Psychological Association said the organization does not have a stance on either the legalization or decriminalization of psychedelic drugs.