If Marijuana Legalization Is a Success, What Comes Next?
Oregon is easily one of the burgeoning cannabis industry’s best success stories — and that’s largely thanks to the state’s liberal and progressive views on the drug. Oregon was the first state to decriminalize marijuana, way back in 1973, and it was among the first to pass measures
legalizing first medicinal and then adult-use products. Unlike other states, which have seen a tumultuous sales pattern and a drop-off in consumer interest not long after opening recreational pot shops, Oregon dispensaries continue to report high, steady sales, demonstrating that in the Beaver State, marijuana is a popular pastime.
Now, after seeing the straightforward success of legal cannabis, progressive Oregonians are again looking to relax legislation on a historically reviled drug: psilocybin. In fact, there is a loud minority calling for the decriminalization of all drugs. But — what would the legalization of magic mushrooms and the decriminalization of drugs in general do to Oregon?
Arguments Behind Legalizing Psilocybin
Oregon isn’t the first to discuss legalizing psilocybin — it isn’t even the first to take serious steps toward legalization. In 2019, Denver, Colorado successfully decriminalized cultivation and possession of magic mushrooms, and groups in other progressive states like California and Washington, D.C. are working hard to put similar legalization measures on their ballots this year.
In many states to include Oregon dispensary owners are preparing their business model to begin selling psilocybin products within the next few years.
Some more conservative readers might wonder: Why push for the legalization of psilocybin, especially now? In truth, psilocybin is incredibly similar to marijuana — if not in chemical structure then in the way it is used and its most common effects. Like cannabis, psilocybin mushrooms are naturally occurring, meaning they do not require some complex and dangerous laboratory to process, and also like cannabis, addiction to psilocybin is rare, and it is all but impossible to overdose on this drug. This puts psilocybin in a different class from hard narcotics like heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine, which are both difficult to synthesize and undeniably threaten the user’s health and wellbeing.
What’s more, some research indicates that psilocybin could be a valuable medical tool, as cannabis has become. Psilocybin and other psychedelics, like LSD, seem to be effective treatments for neurological and psychological disorders, like cluster headaches and migraines as well as depression, obsessive- compulsive disorder and clinical anxiety. As with cannabis, more study into psilocybin’s effects on the brain and body are necessary to make mushrooms a viable medical treatment, but the likelihood is high of psilocybin being used in medical applications in the coming years.
Legalizing any drug is not without some downsides — but for magic mushrooms, the risks are notably few. Psilocybin sends the fewest number of users to the hospital of all drugs, to include cannabis as well as other psychedelics. Though there are some concerns about poisoning, which occurs when users misidentify a dangerous wild mushroom as one containing psilocybin, legalizing the drug would allow users to grow their own shrooms at home, lessening that risk dramatically. More often, users might experience a “bad trip,” which has lingering negative psychological effects like paranoia or confusion, but these feelings tend to dissipate after a day or so.
In Oregon, psilocybin organizers are close to obtaining sufficient signatures to get Initiative
Petition 34, a therapeutic legalization model, on the November ballot — but COVID-19 has
interfered with their progress by preventing canvassing and in-person signatures.
Readers who want to support this cause can read more about Yes On IP 34 and sign the petition online.
And Decriminalizing All Other Drugs
Psilocybin is a natural next step considering the success of adult-use marijuana, but an even more progressive coalition is arguing for the decriminalization of all narcotics across the state. Dubbed the Drug Addiction Treatment and Recovery Act, this measure strives to make drug addiction a health issue as opposed to a criminal issue by reallocating funds to addiction treatment from drug prosecution.
Again, Oregon isn’t alone in its incipient efforts to decriminalize drugs. Overwhelmingly, studies show that the so-called War on Drugs has failed catastrophically; not only has increased prosecution failed to prevent illegal drug sales, but it has made such drug use much more dangerous, increasing overdose rates and developing powerful and threatening gangs and cartels. Equally bad, half of all inmates inside U.S. federal prisons are incarcerated on drug-related charges. This makes for a significant financial burden for taxpayers, and it harms a significant population’s ability to pursue happiness thanks to prior convictions. Amongst progressive, these facts regarding drug criminalization are well-known, and it is likely that decriminalization efforts will be met with positivity, especially in Oregon.
First came cannabis, and now Oregon could see the swift legalization of psilocybin mushrooms as well as the decriminalization of other narcotics. It is thrilling to see such sweeping changes, and readers should be thrilled to live in a place so intent on bringing freedom and safety to all.