Today I wanted to find someone from the Oregon Psilocybin Society who would be willing to chat with me on my podcast about Oregon Measure 109 that was passed in November, 2020. Contrary to a common misperception, Measure 109 does not immediately legalize the use of psilocybin (magic mushrooms) in Oregon, but it does aid in decriminalization, along with Measure 110. What Measure 109 essentially does is allow for a two-year program in which a multidisciplinary team of relevant experts develops a plan for the use of psilocybin within a structured, therapeutic setting. It is my understanding that the planning progress is underway.
Personally, I support the legalization of magic mushrooms, which have been found to be far safer, not only than opiates and illegal stimulants, but even than legal drugs such as alcohol and tobacco. And unlike all of these substances, psilocybin is not physically addictive. Numerous studies and thousands of anecdotes describe profound, life-altering benefits. Among these benefits, psilocybin may be helpful in breaking addictions to drugs of abuse as well as other compulsive, self-medicating habits.
But Measure 109 is not without controversy — not even from my end, as someone who generally supports the idea. When it comes to drug decriminalization and legalization, as we have seen with cannabis across many states in the 21st century, there are two routes: medical and recreational. My main complaint with Measure 109 is that it failed to choose between the two. Its creators could have built on the research demonstrating psilocybin’s potential efficacy as a treatment for specific medical conditions, such as Major Depressive Disorder, and worked within the medical model of diagnosis and treatment under specific conditions. Or, they could have built on the evidence that psilocybin is a very low-harm substance that deserves reclassification by the FDA and that people should be able to use it recreationally just as they do now with cannabis. Instead, they argued for a wishy-washy middle ground, stating on the one hand that it alleviates mental symptoms and is a valuable therapeutic tool, and on the other that anyone who wants it should be able to use it without a diagnosis yet still only in very specific, therapeutically oriented settings deemed appropriate by the regulations. I could further elaborate on why I dislike this approach, but that’s not the point of this article.
My main reason for writing about this today is that I wanted to share what happened when I tried to locate the Oregon Psilocybin Society Facebook page. At various stages along the way, I received these four messages:
In the end, I could not get through to the Facebook page. And the OPS website simply redirected to the American Psychedelic Association & Institute page that is currently under construction. Fortunately, Johns Hopkins’ Psychedelics Research and Psilocybin Therapy website is alive and well. But I wanted to find someone to talk with here in Oregon, so I asked an acquaintance who had campaigned for the measure in 2019 if he could connect me with anyone who would be willing to speak publicly about it. That’s where things stand at the moment when it comes to setting up a podcast episode on this topic.
In encountering these obstacles today, I was struck by the stark contrast this censorship poses with what I’ve discovered through recent research about young people’s exposure online to all manner of misleading, horrifying, mental health crisis inducing content. Stories about adolescents being groomed by online predators; exposed to horrific, grotesque, violent pornography; misled into various other fictional fantasies with real-life consequences; not to mention encountering an abundance of social media promoting anorexia, self-harm, and severe, depression-inducing body dysmorphia. Including, yes, especially, on Instagram. Which is run by Facebook. I mean Meta. You know, the same folks who don’t want to let grown adults like me access content on a low-harm recreational drug.
Someone has their priorities backwards.
That’s all I want to say on that for now.