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Oregon, Washington, D.C. to vote on ballot measures that address psilocybin, also known as magic mushrooms

In November, Oregon could be the first state to approve a ballot initiative, Measure 109, that legalizes psilocybin. Washington, D.C., is also voting on a measure related to psilocybin and other entheogenic plants and fungi.

Currently, psilocybin, which is derived from certain species of fungi, is listed as a Schedule I controlled substance under the Controlled Substances Act. 

In Oregon, Measure 109 would create a program for administering psilocybin, such as psilocybin-producing mushrooms and fungi, to individuals aged 21 years or older. People would be allowed to purchase, possess, and consume psilocybin at a psilocybin service center and under the supervision of a psilocybin service facilitator after undergoing a preparation session.

Measure 109 faces opposition from a Portland-based group that seeks to decriminalize psilocybin. Zave Forster of Decriminalize Nature Portland stated, “We are concerned about the implications of an elite group of beneficiaries putting a free medicine that grows naturally out of the ground behind a paywall.”

Washington, D.C. is voting on a ballot measure, Initiative 81, to declare that police shall treat the non-commercial cultivation, distribution, possession, and use of entheogenic plants and fungi among the lowest law enforcement priorities. Initiative 81 would define entheogenic plants and fungi as species of plants and fungi that contain ibogaine, dimethyltryptamine, mescaline, psilocybin, or psilocyn. 

Denver, Colorado, was the first local jurisdiction to vote on, and approve, a ballot measure to declare that the adult use and possession of psilocybin mushrooms were of the city’s lowest law enforcement priorities. In California, the Oakland City Council and Santa Cruz City Council passed resolutions to de-prioritize law enforcement actions against entheogenic plants. Most recently, Ann Arbor, Michigan, became the fourth jurisdiction to declare entheogenic plants to be considered the city’s lowest law enforcement priorities.

Both Oregon Measure 109 and D.C. Initiative 81 share a common top funder—the New Approach PAC. The organization is based in Washington, D.C., and supported marijuana legalization measures in previous election cycles. Between 2014 and 2018, New Approach contributed at least $6.9 million to campaigns supporting recreational or medical marijuana measures. Tax filings from prior years show that New Approach received funding from the Van Ameringen Foundation and Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps. In both Oregon and D.C., no political action committees were organized to oppose the measures.

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D.C. voters to decide ballot initiative to stop criminal psilocybin mushrooms and other entheogenic plants and fungi in November

On August 5, the D.C. Board of Elections certified Initiative 81 for the November 3 ballot.

The ballot initiative would declare that police shall treat the non-commercial cultivation, distribution, possession, and use of entheogenic plants and fungi as among the lowest law enforcement priorities. The ballot initiative would define entheogenic plants and fungi as species of plants and fungi that contain ibogaine, dimethyltryptamine, mescaline, psilocybin, or psilocyn. Examples include psilocybin mushrooms—also known as magic mushrooms or shrooms—peyote, and iboga. The ballot initiative would also ask the D.C. Attorney General and U.S. Attorney for D.C. to cease the prosecution of residents who engage with entheogenic plants and fungi.

After verifying a random sampling, the board had concluded that 25,477 of the submitted signatures were valid and certified the measure for the ballot. A total of 24,836 signatures were required to qualify for the ballot.

The campaign Decriminalize Nature D.C. reported filing 36,249 signatures with the D.C. Board of Elections on the July 6 deadline. In Washington, D.C., the number of signatures required for a ballot initiative is equal to 5% of the district’s registered voters. Moreover, signatures from 5% of registered voters in five of eight city wards are required to meet the city’s distribution requirement.

The Washington, D.C. Council approved a bill on May 5, 2020, to allow petitions to be distributed, printed, signed, scanned (uploaded), and mailed to proponents rather than collected in person because of the coronavirus pandemic. Voters still needed to sign physical copies of the petitions. Decriminalize Nature D.C. mailed petitions to more than 220,000 households in Washington, D.C. Nikolas Schiller, the campaign’s field director, said that the campaign ended up receiving about 7,000 signatures by mail.

Oregon voters will decide an initiative to establish a psilocybin program in November 2020. If approved, the initiative would make Oregon the first state to legalize psilocybin. In 2019, voters in Denver, Colorado, approved Initiated Ordinance 301, which declared that the adult use and possession of psilocybin mushrooms were of the city’s lowest law enforcement priorities.

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Signatures filed for D.C. ballot initiative on psilocybin mushrooms and entheogenic plants and fungi

On July 6, 2020, the campaign Decriminalize Nature D.C. reported filing 36,249 signatures with the D.C. Board of Elections for a ballot initiative on entheogenic plants and fungi. In Washington, D.C., the number of signatures required for a ballot initiative is equal to 5 percent of the district’s registered voters. As of May 31, there were 496,701 registered voters in Washington, D.C.; therefore, the signature requirement is 24,836 valid signatures.
Known as Initiative 81, the ballot initiative would declare that police shall treat the non-commercial cultivation, distribution, possession, and use of entheogenic plants and fungi as among the lowest law enforcement priorities. Initiative 81 would define entheogenic plants and fungi as species of plants and fungi that contain ibogaine, dimethyltryptamine, mescaline, psilocybin, or psilocyn. Examples include psilocybin mushrooms—also known as magic mushrooms or shrooms—peyote, and iboga. The ballot initiative would also ask the D.C. Attorney General and U.S. Attorney for D.C. to cease the prosecution of residents who engage with entheogenic plants and fungi.
The D.C. Board of Elections has 30 days from July 6 to determine if enough of the submitted signatures are valid for the initiative to appear on the November 3 ballot. D.C. also has a distribution requirement for signatures, requiring that the total number of submitted signatures include 5 percent of the registered electors in each of at least 5 of the city’s 8 wards.
In 2019, Denver, Colorado, became the first city to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms. Denver Initiated Ordinance 301, which received 50.6 percent of the vote, declared that the adult use and possession of psilocybin mushrooms were of the city’s lowest law enforcement priorities. Initiated Ordinance 301 prohibited the city from spending resources on enforcing related penalties.
Voters in Oregon could decide a psilocybin-related initiative on November 3, 2020. The Oregon Psilocybin Society submitted signatures on June 29, 2020.


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