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The November election ballot will feature a measure that would prohibit psilocybin service centers for two years.

PHOTO COURTESY DRUG ENFORCEMENT ADMINISTRATION - The drug psilocybin is derived from certain types of mushrooms. 
Voters in St. Helens will have the final say whether or not to prohibit psilocybin treatment centers within the city, the St. Helens City Council announced Wednesday, Aug. 3.

If approved, treatment centers using psilocybin — also known as "magic mushrooms" — and the manufacture of psilocybin products would be prohibited within St. Helens for two years.

Psilocybin is a psychoactive compound that occurs naturally in certain fungi. The substance has been used as therapy treatment in licensed therapeutic settings and has been used to treat substance abuse disorders and some traumatic mental health responses.

Research suggests psilocybin may help address depression, anxiety, trauma and addiction, according to the Oregon Health Authority. The agency says the drug can also increase "spiritual well-being."

In 2020, Oregon voters approved Measure 109, known as the Oregon Psilocybin Service Act, which allowed for the manufacture, delivery and administration of psilocybin at licensed facilities. It also required the Oregon Health Authority to begin accepting applications for licenses to manufacture, deliver and administer psilocybin in 2023. While the measure passed statewide, voters in Columbia County passed Measure 109 by the slimmest of margins, 520 votes.

Measure 109 gives city councils the option to prohibit the drug treatment centers and manufacturers if approved by city voters. There are no retail sales of psilocybin allowed under state laws and the drug can only be used legally under professional supervision and only in specially designated facilities.

Several Oregon cities and counties are considering such a ban, though in neighboring Washington County, the board of commissioners voted against placing a measure on the fall ballot that would have implemented a temporary ban on psilocybin treatment facilities.

St. Helens city councilors voted unanimously to approve a resolution placing the issue on the ballot, Aug. 3.

Councilor Jessica Chilton was not in attendance at the meeting.

After asking for and receiving no discussion on the topic at the night session, Mayor Rick Scholl said it's up to voters.

"We're just putting it up for a vote," Scholl said. "If voters want to have it, they can. If not, they'll shoot it down. But we'll give it to the voters."

One sticking point for local cities and counties is that Oregon is still working out regulations on how the treatment centers will operate. That work will not likely by complete by September 8, 2022, which is the deadline for local governments to refer a measure for the November ballot.

The General Election is November 8.

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