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If approved, the drug could be used in Oregon to treat mental illnesses like depression and anxiety starting in 2023.

COURTESY PHOTO: SAM CHAPMAN - The psilocybin therapy initative qualified for Oregon's November 2020 ballot on July 8, 2020.An initiative that would legalize psilocybin therapy under limited circumstances qualified for Oregon's November 2020 ballot Wednesday, July 8, according to the Oregon Secretary of State's website.

Oregon Psilocybin Services Act verified 132,465 signatures, well over the 112,020 needed to make it on the ballot.

If the measure is passed in November, it would legalize psilocybin therapy, in which licensed providers would give clients controlled doses of the drug.

Chief petitioners Sheri and Tom Eckert said that Oregon is facing a mental health epidemic. Nearly a quarter of Oregonians have a mental illness but 60% of them did not receive treatment, according to Mental Health America's 2020 State of Mental Health in America rankings.

Psilocybin, a hallucinogenic drug found in "magic mushrooms," is classified federally as a Schedule I drug. That means, according to U.S. law, it has no "accepted medical use," according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

However, clinical studies from universities such as Johns Hopkins and UCLA show that psilocybin may be an effective treatment for depression and anxiety.

"It offers a lot of possibility and hope for Oregonians," Sheri Eckert said, "and we're hoping that with this careful regulated framework, we can address the mental health crisis that we have here in our state and bring some relief to those who are struggling in their lives and in a really safe, regulated way."

The initiative would require licenses to grow psilocybin mushrooms, to provide treatment or to open a therapy center. The treatment would be available only to people 21 years or older at licensed service centers and no one would be allowed to leave the center while under the influence.

The measure has a two-year "development period" during which the Oregon Health Authority — under the guidance of an advisory board that would be created by the measure — would establish regulations for the licenses. Licenses would not be available until after the development period ends in 2023.

Tom Eckert said that the measure is written to be revenue neutral but could potentially become a source of revenue for the state.

The campaign initially had submitted 135,573 signatures in May, but only 106,908 were validated by the Secretary of State's office. The campaign submitted an additional 31,209 on June 29.

The initiative is one of two that have qualified for the November ballot.


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