Policy Reform

Open Letter: Help Legalize Psilocybin Services in Oregon

Oregon Shrooms

Word is getting out about the healing power of psilocybin, the psychedelic compound found in “magic” mushrooms. Here in Oregon, where psilocybin mushrooms colonize our coastal forests, we’re inspired. As husband-and-wife founders of the Oregon Psilocybin Society, we’re envisioning a historic push to legalize and regulate psilocybin services, also known as psilocybin assisted therapy, statewide. A growing number of people are getting behind the idea, largely in response to the latest science.

The research, coming from places like UCLA, NYU, and Johns Hopkins, shows that psilocybin, when administered as part of a therapeutic sequence, combats otherwise unrelenting anxiety, depression, addictions, OCD, and even cluster headaches. Additionally, carefully supervised psilocybin use is shown to enhance openness and creativity, promote a sense of overall well-being, and trigger spiritual growth. When properly administered, psilocybin poses no serious threat to a healthy human body.

The evolving psilocybin service model is unprecedented. Psilocybin, after all, is an off-patent, organic agent which creates change through the psychedelic experience it provides, such that a single experience often changes a person’s disposition moving forward. And the psilocybin model, which includes preparation, psychedelic facilitation, and integration afterwards, doesn’t just match the effectiveness of a typical “meds and therapy” regimen. Where typical interventions fail, psilocybin therapy, with impressive frequency, breaks through.

And yet, psilocybin, with its benign risk profile, minimal side effects, and proven therapeutic benefits, still languishes on the DEA’s “Schedule I” – a kind of prison for illicit drugs with “no therapeutic value” and a “high potential for abuse.” To be clear, there is no scientific basis for psilocybin’s continued inclusion on Schedule I. While we can speculate as to why it remains there (it’s too revolutionary, there’s no money in it for big pharma, it runs afoul of the drug war), the bottom line is that people are suffering who could otherwise benefit from this safe and effective treatment. Countless others, perhaps not suffering as acutely, might also benefit, contributing to an altogether healthier society. The long winter of psychedelic prohibition, stretching 46 years and counting, has taken a toll.

Thankfully, change is underway. Attitudes are evolving and progress is being made. Despite legal hindrances, psilocybin research, with fittingly flying colors, is moving toward a Phase III of an FDA approval process. Bigger studies should ensue, though it’s all made difficult by federal law. If the research progresses as planned, it’s reasonable to expect more positive outcomes. What’s not clear, however, is whether continued positive outcomes will translate into changed policy at the federal level. That, in a nutshell, is why we’ve decided to mobilize here in Oregon.

Tom and Sheri Eckert

OPS founders Tom and Sheri Eckert

It’s probably fitting that a shared entheogenic vision sparked the founding of our current project. On a clear evening last summer, surrounded by the majesty of Mother Nature, the two of us set out to experience the magic of the mushroom journey. Our chosen setting couldn’t have been better: an old growth forest of giant hemlocks and firs at the foot of Mount Rainier. As the ancient forest went dark, the Golden Teachers – a noble strain of psilocybin mushrooms – came alive. In the latter stages of a powerful trip, a dialogue took hold across the campfire.  Somewhere in that starry soup of shared consciousness, our minds “conceived.” Struck with a sense of the sacred, we suddenly understood what it means to bring forth a “child” of intention, a living energy conceived in thought, delivered in action, and lovingly raised for the psychedelic revolution for which it was designed.

In the spring of 2016, we gave birth to the Oregon Psilocybin Society (OPS). We’re happy to see it grow strong.

The OPS mission is two-fold. Firstly, we continue our mission to build a strong coalition of interested citizens and organizations who stand in favor of legally regulating psilocybin services in Oregon. OPS is spreading state-wide, promoting the science, safety, benefits, and risks of supervised psilocybin services, while laying the groundwork for an intensified campaign.

The second part of the OPS mission is to organize energy in support of the Psilocybin Service Initiative of Oregon — a fully drafted ballot measure that will, with adequate support, find its way to the 2020 Oregon ballot. If passed, the measure would provide regulated access to Psilocybin Services in Oregon for those who qualify.

Such a vision, of course, isn’t easily materialized. We’ll need to raise awareness, mitigate fears, raise funds, collect signatures, get on the ballot, and win. It will take time, resources, and a well-coordinated, collective push. The hard work is ahead. Please sign up to be part of the movement, and donate if you can. Follow us on Facebook. We’re welcoming of any thoughts, feedback, and/or questions that you might have. Feel free to reach out.


Tom & Sheri Eckert

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