A magic mushroom measure passed two years ago still has another hill to climb at the ballot box.
Oregon’s approval of Measure 109 in 2020 allowed for psilocybin production and therapies in the state. But this November, some counties and cities will get to decide what that means for them, including many in Central Oregon.
Oregon voters approved ballot Measure 109 (M109), also known as the Oregon Psilocybin Services Act, in November 2020 with 56% of the vote. The measure gives the Oregon Health Authority the power to license and regulate psilocybin manufacturing and services in the state. The OHA was directed to spend a two year period from Jan. 1, 2021 to Dec 31, 2022 in order to build an Oregon Psilocybin Services Section to establish rules and regulations for production of psilocybin and providing psilocybin services.
On January 2, 2023, the OHA will be able to accept applications for manufacturing and treatment facilities.
The 2022 vote
Measure 109 allowed for local jurisdictions to choose whether or not to allow voters to back out of the legislation in the 2022 election, for either a total ban or a two-year moratorium. On a county level (including Deschutes, Jefferson, and Crook Counties) a ‘yes’ vote will “prohibit the manufacturing and operation of Psilocybin Product Manufacturing and Psilocybin Service Centers within the unincorporated areas (outside of city limits)” of each county. A ‘no’ vote would allow it.
On a city level, a ‘yes’ vote would prohibit, or ban, the “establishment and operation of psilocybin related businesses” in the city. Some cities have opted to vote on a total ban, while others have opted for a two-year moratorium.
Deschutes, Jefferson, and Crook County commissioners decided to voters in their jurisdictions to vote on the issue in November.
Local governments in La Pine, Prineville, Redmond, Madras, Culver, and Metolius have also decided to let their cities vote on the issue.
In Deschutes County, 52.6% of voters were in favor of the measure in 2020.
Commissioner Tony DeBone said another vote in 2022 allowed county leadership the chance to discuss where treatment centers would be, as well as allowing voters the chance to become more informed before decisions were made.
“If we didn’t do what we did, we would have been stepping into the unknown without the backup of the the vote of the people,” he said.
The public can continue to submit written comments on the issue until Oct. 13, when the Deschutes County Planning Commission will accept more public comments at their 5:30 p.m. meeting.
The planning commission will then choose another date to provide a recommendation to the Board of County Commissioners on where treatment centers could potentially be.
DeBone said that even though a narrow majority of voters were in favor of Measure 109, he is unsure what to expect from the 2022 election.
“There is a cross section of people that are pro and against,” DeBone said. “It’s all over the place. I don’t know what’s going to happen on this vote.”
The City of Redmond has opted to vote on a complete ban for the manufacturing of psilocybin products, and a two-year moratorium on psilocybin service centers.
The City of La Pine has opted to vote on a complete ban for both manufacturing and service centers.
In Jefferson County, most voters were against Measure 109 in 2020, with 40.3% in favor and 59.7% against.
Jefferson County Health Services Director Dr. Michael Baker called the studies around psilocybin’s effectiveness “exciting,” but he had reservations about the county’s capacity to provide it.
“The studies show positive results associated with the use of psilocybin during treatment,” Baker told Central Oregon Daily News on Wednesday. “However, it really seems that the use of psilocybin alone is not enough. There does need to be a strong behavioral health component built into the treatment.
“That’s where I think Jefferson County falls short. We are already four times the patient to provider ratio needed to meet basic behavioral/mental health services locally. Right now, we do not have the infrastructure needed to support something like this locally.”
The City of Madras has opted to vote on a complete ban for both manufacturing and service centers.
The Cities of Culver and Metolius have also opted to vote on a complete ban.
Most Crook County voters were against Measure 109 in 2020, by a wider margin than the other two Central Oregon counties. Just 35.3% voted to approve it, while 64.7% voted against it.
Crook County Judge Seth Crawford said the discomfort from local communities stems from the rules surrounding psilocybin “not being very clear.”
“Very unclear, and just their comfort with the science is pretty low,” he said.
Crawford said the citizens he’s spoken to have been grateful to have the chance to vote about the future of the issue for themselves.
“I wish they could do that more often,” he said. “I think it would make the people of Crook County appreciative that they got to decide which way the community went.”
He said he expects the 2022 election to have a similar outcome to 2020, with most voters against production and service centers for psilocybin.
The City of Prineville opted to vote on a complete ban on psilocybin manufacturing and service centers, rather than a two-year moratorium.