Legal mushrooms? Oregon may vote on it.

Legal mushrooms? Oregon may vote on it.

VicesFebruary 20, 2017 By Reilly Capps

One enterprising group has recently submitted a proposal to the Oregon state government for a ballot initiative that would legalize psilocybin mushrooms by as early as November 2018.

Though if it actually passes, mushrooms wouldn't just be sold at the corner store like marijuana dispensaries. They would be done with a trained person there, sober, with the approval of a doctor — similar to the way ketamine treatments for depression are done.

"There really is no danger if you do it in a regulated situation," Tom Eckert, a licensed professional counselor and one of the leaders of the Oregon Psilocybin Society, the force behind the measure, says by phone. "You're not going to overdose, it's not addictive. We see a lot of excitement around the idea. This could happen quicker than everyone expects." Supporters point to studies suggesting that psilocybin sessions can permanently change personality, can help with OCD, addiction and anxiety, and can be the most meaningful experiences of a person's life.

Not so fast, say opponents.

"Legalization is never the key," Jo McGuire of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, an anti-marijuana legalization group, tells us. McGuire says she'd be worried about dosing safely, about liability for the therapists, and more. "There's just so many issues with this. None of this is a good idea."

McGuire sighs, "Leave it to Oregon to experiment."

Magic mushrooms are listed as a Schedule I drug by the Drug Enforcement Agency, making them as illegal as heroin or marijuana. (Attempts to contact the DEA today were unsuccessful.) Mushrooms are legal in just a few places worldwide, and have been decriminalized in a few countries, such as Portugal. Only about 22 percent of Americans support legalizing mushrooms.

Organizers say they aren't sure whether they'll aim for the 2018 elections, or wait until the presidential elections of 2020, when turnout is usually higher and more young people vote.

Michael Jacobs, a political organizer who supports the initiative, says he thinks it will be "easy" to gather the 88,000 signatures necessary.

"When we started the efforts to legalize marijuana and hemp, people laughed," Jacobs says by phone. Marijuana is now legal, in some form, in 28 states.

[Sheri Eckert and her husband Tom, leaders of the effort to legalize psilocybin mushrooms in Oregon, posted this picture to their Facebook page, of the language they submitted to the state government for a ballot measure.]