By Natan Ponieman
Voters in Oregon have approved two measures that mark an unprecedented change in the history of U.S. drug policy.
Measure 110, which passed with 58.8% positive votes, decriminalizes the possession of small amounts of all illegal drugs. It also creates a support program for drug abuse and addiction.
The drugs included are cocaine, heroin, oxycodone, methamphetamine and LSD, among others.
A second measure was also approved in the state, creating a program for the therapeutic use of psilocybin — the active ingredient in “magic mushrooms.”
Washington DC also voted on a similar initiative to make all psychedelic plants and fungi a lowest law enforcement priority, while five new states have passed cannabis legalization measures this election.
Oregon Measure 110: Decriminalize All Drugs
Oregon has historically been a pioneer of progressive drug policy. The state was the first to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of cannabis in 1973. A medical marijuana program was established in 1998 and adult-use cannabis was successfully legalized in 2014.
Now, the Beaver State will reduce penalties on other schedule 1 substances.
Measure 110 decriminalizes possession of small amounts of illegal drugs including cocaine, heroin, oxycodone, methamphetamine and LSD. The idea behind the legislation is to treat drug addiction as a public health issue, removing it from the criminal justice system.
To accompany this goal, the measure creates a series of “Addiction and Recovery Centers” throughout the state, funded by tax dollars from legal cannabis sales, which would be re-allocated into a new $57 million fund.
A 2019 report by the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission noted that the state “ranks among the most challenged states in the nation for substance abuse and mental health problems, while at the same time ranking among the worst states for access and engagement with care.”
RELATED: Oregon Measure To Legalize Magic Mushrooms Qualifies For November Ballot
Measure 110 works by making possession of small amounts of these substances a Class E Violation, instead of a Misdemeanor. This reduces penalties to a $100 fine or the option to enlist in one of the “Addiction and Recovery Centers.”
The campaign was backed by a $500,000 donation from the Zuckerberg-Chan Initiative, a nonprofit led by Facebook Inc. CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan.
Under Measure 110, selling or manufacturing schedule 1 drugs remains a criminal offense.
Oregon Measure 109: Legalize and Regulate Therapeutic Psilocybin
In another landmark vote, Oregon has become the first state to set up a program that regulates psilocybin, the active psychedelic ingredient in “magic mushrooms.” The measure was approved by 55.8% of voters.
The substance was scheduled by the federal government in 1970, but recent research has shown it may have very promising potential in the treatment of several psychiatric disorders including depression, anxiety, addiction and PTSD.
Until now, only smaller jurisdictions had passed decriminalization measures concerning psilocybin. These are Denver, Oakland, Santa Cruz and Ann Arbor.
RELATED: Will Psilocybin Clinics Be The Next Big Thing In Treating Depression?
While Measure 109 does not legalize the substance, which remains a Schedule 1 drug under federal law, it creates a state-licensed psilocybin-assisted therapy system.
Patients over the age of 21 will be allowed to buy, possess and use psilocybin under the supervision of trained facilitators, while manufacture, delivery and administration of the drug will be allowed at supervised, licensed facilities.
Measure 109, however, does not require participants to prove an ailment to qualify for the therapy, as psilocybin also takes part in many “spiritual” and ritual practices. This means the measure opens the possibility for an eventual adult-use market of psilocybin products in Oregon.
The measure sets up a two-year period to develop the program and put it in action.