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Voters resoundingly pass measures banning siting psilocybin businesses in both towns

DREAMSTIME PHOTO - Voters in Newberg and Dundee banned siting psilocybin businesses via lopsided votes on Nov. 8.

City councils in both Newberg and Dundee left it up to the voters of their respective towns to decide whether psilocybin businesses would be allowed to locate within their confines. Voters in both municipalities responded Nov. 8 with resounding approval of measures that would ban the enterprises for at least two years in Dundee and permanently in Newberg.

The yes votes outdistanced the no votes 65.88% to 34.12% in Dundee and 58.36% to 41.64% in Newberg.

The councils forwarded the decision onto their respective electorates after Measure 109, the Oregon Psilocybin Services Act, was approved by the state's voters in 2020. The measure gave communities a role in the form of three choices: take no action, which would require a city to adopt regulations for allowing manufacturers and service centers; enact a permanent ban and refer it to the ballot; enact a two-year moratorium and refer it to the ballot.

Both cities chose to enact a permanent ban and refer the question to the ballot.

Measure 109, which was adopted by a slim margin in Yamhill County, created a regulatory framework for the production of psilocybin and charged administration of the system to the Oregon Health Authority. The OHA is responsible for writing the rules for production and distribution of the drug via service centers. The measure requires that a physician prescribe micro doses of the drug and that it be administered only at the service center. It cannot be sold for recreational use from service centers.

Micro doses of psilocybin have been hailed by clinicians and the Federal Food and Drug Administration as a breakthrough treatment for depression, anxiety and other neurological maladies.

After lengthy discussion during its July 18 work session, the Newberg City Council unanimously voted during the business session in favor of a permanent ban and referring the question to the voters. City Manager Will Worthey commented that the state had given cities little direction on the issue and although there is a potential for businesses manufacturing and distributing the drug, the state has yet to establish any rules.

"This is virgin territory, in effect, and would involve a lot of (Community Development Director Doug Rux's) research time and a lot of other staff," he said.

In August, the Dundee City Council followed the lead of Newberg to a degree, choosing instead to enact a two-year moratorium on siting psilocybin service centers and refer the question to the voters in the general election.

Had the voters defeated the measures in November, the cities then would refer to whatever rules and regulations the OHA developed when requests come from businesses wishing to site service centers in the town.

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