SALEM, Ore. (Nov. 9, 2020) – Last Tuesday, Oregon became the first state to create a legal framework for the medical use of “magic mushrooms” despite federal prohibition.

Oregon voters approved Measure 109 by a 55.8 percent to 44.2 percent margin.

Under the new law, the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) will establish a program to license medical practitioners to provide psilocybin to patients 21 or older. Clients would be allowed to purchase, possess, and consume psilocybin at a “psilocybin service center” under the supervision of a licensed “psilocybin service facilitator.” The OHA will determine the qualifications for “facilitators” and patients.

Psilocybin is a hallucinogenic compound found in certain mushrooms. A number of studies have shown psilocybin to be effective in the treatment of depression, PTSD, chronic pain and addiction. For instance, a Johns Hopkins study found that “psilocybin produces substantial and sustained decreases in depression and anxiety in patients with life-threatening cancer.”

Earlier this year, Ann Arbor, Michigan; Oakland, California; and Denver Colorado all decriminalized psilocybin.

Despite the movement to decriminalize psilocybin and create a process to use it medicinally, the federal government maintains a total ban on the substance.

LEGALITY

Under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) passed in 1970, the federal government maintains complete prohibition of psilocybin. Of course, the federal government lacks any constitutional authority to ban or regulate such substances within the borders of a state, despite the opinion of the politically connected lawyers on the Supreme Court. If you doubt this, ask yourself why it took a constitutional amendment to institute federal alcohol prohibition.

The new Oregon law will effectively end state enforcement of some laws prohibiting the possession of psilocybin. As we’ve seen with marijuana and hemp, when states and localities stop enforcing laws banning a substance, the federal government finds it virtually impossible to maintain prohibition. For instance, FBI statistics show that law enforcement makes approximately 99 of 100 marijuana arrests under state, not federal law. By curtailing or ending state prohibition, states sweep part of the basis for 99 percent of marijuana arrests.

Furthermore, figures indicate it would take 40 percent of the DEA’s yearly annual budget just to investigate and raid all of the dispensaries in Los Angeles – a single city in a single state. That doesn’t include the cost of prosecution either. The lesson? The feds lack the resources to enforce marijuana prohibition without state and local assistance, and the same will likely hold true with psilocybin.

Passage of this resolution in Oregon takes the very first step toward nullifying psilocybin prohibition in practice and effect.


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