Part 1: Background
The general topic covered in this paper comprise of the Oregon Measure 109 that seeks to involve voters in the legalization process of therapeutic psilocybin. The Oregon Measure 109, also referred to as the Oregon Psilocybin Services Act (OPSA), seeks to force the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) towards amending the state law that allows the creation of Oregon Psilocybin Services Program (OPSP) (Ballotpedia). The OPSP is designed to create regulations focused on administering of psilocybin products. The psilocybin products subject to the regulation by the program include psilocybin-producing mushrooms and fungi products. The ballot issue seeks to legalize the use of psilocybin products to individuals aged 21 years or older applied in controlled clinical settings (Foden-Vencil). The legalization of the product is intended to be used in the treatment of mental health crisis that has been prevalent in the state of Oregon. Also, critical in addressing costly epidemics such as PTSD, treatment-resistant depression, anxiety, suicide, and drug addiction such as nicotine and alcohol.
The initiative seeking the legalization of psilocybin products was started by the Oregon Psilocybin Society (OPS) founded in 2016 by Portland psychotherapists Tom and Sheri Eckert. The intention for the establishment of OPS that is critical towards the campaigning of the OPSA is driven by the desire to raise awareness on the safety and benefits of having controlled Psilocybin services as vital measures used in the treatment of severe diseases (Hall and Seddiq). The pursuit of this initiative is informed by the growing evidence that indicates the profound value of psilocybin-assisted therapy as a safe and unique treatment form for key diseases affecting people in the state. The ballot issue has already been voted for with “Yes” taking the lead after acquiring 1,270,057 votes (55.7 percent) against “No” 1,008,199 votes (44.3 percent) (Foden-Vencil). The “Yes” vote prompted the OHA to pave way in the legalization of Psilocybin products overturning the former illegal status of the manufacturing and consumption of Psilocybin under both the federal and state law. This prompted Oregon to be the first state to establish laws and regulations intended to create a state-licensed, Psilocybin-assisted therapy program (Groundwater).
Part 2: Positions on the issue
The prevailing of the “Yes” over “No” on the ballot issue creates future potential legal challenges seeking to address the concerns raised in the opposing sides. The “Yes” team led by the OPS supported the initiative on the basis of new-found and growing evidence that demonstrate the significance of Psilocybin-assisted therapy and its efficiency in treatment of diseases such as mental problems, PTSD, anxiety and depression, suicide, and drug addiction (Ballotpedia). For example, evidence supported by experts such as Dr. Adie Rae, an assistant scientist at Legacy Research Institute illustrate the effectiveness of Psilocybin products in the intervention of persons suffering from anxiety, trauma and depression (Groundwater). Dr. Rachel Knox, chair for the Oregon Cannabis Commission echoes similar words in the emphasis of professionals and trained therapists facilitate the use of Psilocybin (Acker). As well, U.S. Representative Earl Blumenauer articulates the value of Psilocybin as a breakthrough in the treatment of therapy in the state. Furthermore, David Bronner, the chief executive office of Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps as critical measures used for life-saving scenarios among high traumatized populations such as veterans and marginalized communities that are in great need (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC).
The position of the opposing side is informed by strong arguments based on the need for scientific research and expertise as the basis for the approval of Psilocybin medicine. This is contrary to subjecting a serious matter as a drug approval to a ballot that negates or has no foundation of scientific trials. For example, Dr. Saul Levin, chief executive officer of the American Psychiatric Association cautions the use of ballot initiative as a determinant of medical treatment (Ballotpedia). To ascertain the safety and effectiveness of the drugs, use of science and evidence-based research should be the sole determinants of drugs approval. Dr. Nicole Cirino, president of the Oregon Psychiatric Association argues that the approach is setting Oregonians as guinea pigs in receive Psilocybin treatment for psychological conditions (Ballotpedia). Furthermore, Oregon Psychiatric Physicians Association argues that Measure 109 fails to consider the side effects of Psilocybin that affects serotonin levels in the brain leading to hallucinations. This places a heavy caution on the safety of the Psilocybin medicine.
Part 3: Interest Groups
The “Yes” campaign was led by OPS and enjoys massive support from legislatures such as U.S. Representative Earl Blumenauer, Oregon State Senators; Michael Dembrow, Lew Frederick, Jeff Golden, and Elizabeth Steiner Hayward. Also, the Democratic Party of Oregon and Independent Pat of Oregon are major parties supporting the initiative. Unions including American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and Coalition of Oregon Professionals Associations for Counselling and Therapy support the ballot initiative. Others include Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, ACLU or Oregon, Veterans of War, among others. The win for the supporting side is attributed to having received a total of $5.3 million in cash and in-kind contributions with the New Approach PAC being the biggest single contributor of $3.5 million that supports progressive initaitives.
The “No” campaign was led by the Washington County Republican Party with the support of unions such as American Psychiatric Association, Oregon Medical Association, and Oregon Psychiatric Physicians Associations. Also, organizations such as Decriminalize Nature Portland, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and Oregon Council of Child and Adult Psychiatry being on the front line opposing the initiative. The “No” campaign or opposing parties suffered greatly from lack of coordination and financial mobilization to effectively counter the influence of the supporters of the initiative.
Part 4: Trends
The social and political trends show dissenting views. For example, the Democrats were directly involved in the campaigning for the legalization of Psilocybin. This shows the impact of political parties and candidates in pursuit of progressive initiatives. In the social aspect, the involvement of medical and psychiatric professions opposing the initiative shows a lack of consensus between the professionals and the public officials. The professionals are expected to fully comply and implement the initiative one it passed. This posits serious problems for effective implementation of the initiative.
Part 5: Conclusion
In conclusion, the outcome of the Psilocybin initiative has already been determined with the vote to approve the legalization taking lead. The win over lose on the initiative campaigns can be attributed to the existence of effective supporting team and financial capacity to pursue and influence voters towards accepting the Oregon Measure 109. However, the initiative is bound to be marred with future controversies and reluctance of psychiatric professionals failing to fully implemented the policy. Therefore, a likely challenge to ascertain scientific and evidence-based research has extensively been established on the safety of Psilocybin is looming. Therefore, the need to meet the scientific, professional, and evidence-based proof for the effectiveness of Psilocybin medicines must be guarantee to sustain the initiative.
“Oregon Measure 109, Psilocybin Mushroom Services Program Initiative (2020).” Ballotpedia, ballotpedia.org/Oregon_Measure_109,_Psilocybin_Mushroom_Services_Program_Initiative_(2020).
“Type 2 Diabetes.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 30 May 2019, www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/type2.html.
Acker, Lizzy. “Oregon Becomes First State to Legalize Psychedelic Mushrooms.” Oregonlive, 4 Nov. 2020, www.oregonlive.com/politics/2020/11/oregon-becomes-first-state-to-legalize-psychedelic-mushrooms.html.
Foden-Vencil, Kristian. “Oregon Voters Legalize Therapeutic Psilocybin.” Opb, OPB, 4 Nov. 2020, www.opb.org/article/2020/11/04/oregon-measure-109-psilocybin/.
Groundwater, Colin. “Oregon Is on the Verge of Legalizing Shrooms Therapy, Thanks to Your Favorite Hippie Soap.” GQ, www.gq.com/story/measure-109-legal-shrooms-therapy.
Hall, Madison, and Oma Seddiq. “Oregon Voted to Legalize the Sale of Psychedelic Mushrooms.” Business Insider, Business Insider, 4 Nov. 2020, www.businessinsider.com/oregon-measure-109-live-vote-count-results-2020?IR=T.