Oregon, a pioneering state of cannabis legalization, stands once again at the forefront of a potential revolution in drug policy reform.
The first initiative would legalize psilocybin mushrooms for therapeutic purposes in a medically supervised environment. It also lists no specific conditions that would make patients qualify for such treatment.
The second measure aims to decriminalize possession of all drugs that are presently outlawed in the state. It would also channel marijuana tax revenue into expanding treatment programs for substance misuse.
If these initiatives pass, Oregon would be the first state to enact changes on this level.
Oregon Rep. Earl Blumenauer, one of the most passionate advocates for drug policy reform in Congress, has also been campaigning for psychedelic therapy. In August, Blumenauer fired off an email blast to raise cash in support of the mushroom initiative.
“Measure 109 will offer hope in the form of a breakthrough treatment option in Oregon: psilocybin therapy,” Blumanauer wrote. “It gives Oregonians who suffer from depression and anxiety the opportunity to overcome their mental health challenges through a program designed for safety and support. It’s healthcare policy done right, and it will help thousands.”
Also in August, the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission reported that the decriminalization initiative would reduce felony and misdemeanor convictions for drug possession by 91 percent overall, and racially disproportionate drug busts by an astounding 95 percent.
The commission’s report specified that the decline would prove “substantial for all racial groups, ranging from 82.9 percent for Asian Oregonians to approximately 94 percent for Native American and Black Oregonians.”
Furthermore, the report stated that the reduced convictions “will result in fewer collateral consequences stemming from criminal justice system involvement, which include difficulties in finding employment, loss of access to student loans for education, difficulties in obtaining housing, restrictions on professional licensing, and others.”
A separate report issued by the Oregon Financial Estimate Committee (OFEC) breaks down the expenses and benefits of legalizing psilocybin therapy and decriminalizing drugs.
The mushroom measure proposes spending $57 million in marijuana tax revenue on drug treatment annually. That should not be a problem, the OFEC found, as Oregon’s legal weed sales are soaring, with cannabis tax cash expected to hit $182 million between 2021 and 2023.
On the decriminalization front, OFEC wrote that the state would save money by spending considerably less on law enforcement. “These savings are estimated at $0.3 million in 2019-21 and $24.5 million in 2021-23,” the report forecasts. “The savings are expected to increase beyond the 2021-23 biennium.”
With all this shockingly sensible but still bold and forward-thinking drug reform movement going on, perhaps it’s time for Oregon to change its nickname from The Beaver State to The Braver State.