Last month, the Deschutes County Board of Commissioners listened to testimony from dozens of educated, experienced people who came from all walks of life—licensed clinical social workers, authors, therapists and "average Joes" who have seen the promise of psilocybin therapy and who are hopeful that with the passage of Measure 109 by voters statewide in 2020, Oregon could be a leader in this emerging form of mental health therapy. In these pages in recent years, we have also shared the stories of veterans and others who have overcome post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression and other issues through the use of psilocybin therapy in the unregulated market.
With the passage of Measure 109, Oregonians asked the question, "How could we make this treatment even better through a regulated market?" In a state with an abysmal record on mental health support, Oregonians need all the help we can get.
So if you're confused about why, after hearing testimony that was overwhelmingly in favor of this therapy and was approved by voters, two of our three county commissioners—Tony DeBone and Patti Adair—would decide instead to put a measure on the November ballot to "opt out" of allowing this therapy to move forward in our county, then you would not be alone. In 2020, Deschutes County voters voted in favor of implementing Measure 109, with 52.80% of voters saying yes.
We The People voted in favor of pursuing this therapy. As it stands now, the Oregon Health Authority has yet to even issue its final set of rules around how the therapy will be implemented and under what strictures it will operate. (The measure gave officials two years to establish the rules and guidelines, with the guidance of research and professional expertise.)
By putting a measure on the ballot for the November election, Deschutes County commissioners are asking local voters to weigh in on a program and process that is not fully established. Placing something that we just passed on the ballot is another example of the disregard the County Commission has for taxpayer time and money when it comes to issues they do not agree with.
We have been here before. Deschutes County commissioners went forward with a measure to "opt out" of new, legal marijuana grows in the county. The measure language was so confusing that it was unclear whether one was voting for or against. There is no reason at this point to trust commissioners Adair and DeBone to make it easy for voters to understand this time. In addition, in the wake of their opt out has come a proliferation of illegal grows and cartel activity.
When it comes to the upcoming psilocybin opt-out, again, county voters went through the electoral process and approved. Community members who rail about government red tape, excess government spending, about inefficiencies in the system and the will of the people being subverted at every turn should be upset. Every time we do this, every time we refuse to accept the outcome of an election, whether it be a local county measure or a presidential race, we are tearing at the fabric of democracy. Voters should vote against the opt out of legal, regulated psilocybin therapy programs in Deschutes County, and in the process look closely at the elected officials who are costing the county time and money with these unnecessary revotes, and opt out of returning them to office.