UPDATE: Both Oregon and DC voted to loosen restrictions on psychedelic drugs, as part of a major rejection of the war on drugs seen on Election Day.
The US has a near-total criminal prohibition of psychedelic drugs. In Oregon and Washington, DC, voters are being asked if they’d like to change that.
Oregon’s Measure 109 asks voters whether psilocybin mushrooms, also known as magic mushrooms, should be allowed for medical purposes.
In Washington, DC, voters are being presented with Initiative 81, which could decriminalize a range of psychedelic plants and fungi.
The measures are seen by many activists as the next stage in scaling back America’s war on drugs, now that marijuana legalization has already reached 11 states and could be legalized in four more in the November election.
Polls show strong support for marijuana legalization, but it’s unclear how much public backing there is for measures decriminalizing psychedelics or legalizing them for medicinal purposes. Denver became the first US city to vote to decriminalize psychedelic mushrooms in 2019, but no state has decriminalized or legalized psychedelic substances for medical use.
But activists may have an advantage in Oregon and Washington, DC — both of which are very liberal, and were among the first jurisdictions to legalize cannabis for recreational use (although DC, due to a bill passed by Congress, still prohibits sales).
The Oregon and DC measures will likely set the stage for future drug policy reform efforts. If two progressive places move forward with their measures, that may signal a wider public appetite for expanding access to psychedelic drugs. If the measures fail — especially in an election year that seems very favorable to more progressive causes — drug policy reformers almost certainly have their work cut out for them.
Washington, DC, Initiative 81
A yes vote would effectively decriminalize the non-commercial cultivation, distribution, possession, and use of “entheogenic plants and fungi,” and ask prosecutors to drop cases related to these substances. Commercial sales wouldn’t be allowed.
A no vote would mean DC would not deprioritize the enforcement of anti-psychedelic laws.
Oregon Measure 109
A yes on Measure 109 would allow patients 21 and older to buy, possess, and consume psychedelic drugs at “psilocybin service centers,” under the supervision of trained facilitators.
A no vote would mean patients would not have legal, supervised access to these drugs.