Nov. 5 (UPI) -- Voters in Oregon approved a ballot measure Tuesday to legalize "magic mushrooms" if used within a therapeutic setting.
In a count of 2.1 million votes, more than 1.2 million, or 55% of voters, approved Measure 109 which allows the "manufacture, delivery and administration of psilocybin at supervised, licensed facilities" after a two-year development period.
Cities such as Denver and Oakland, Calif., have already passed legislation to decriminalize psilocybin, but Oregon's new law goes further, allowing the state to license a framework of therapeutic settings where the treatment might be given.
Psilocybin, the hallucinogenic ingredient in magic mushrooms, is considered a Schedule 1 drug federally, which means the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency has declared it devoid of any therapeutic value and that users run the risk of harm or addiction.
But new research from Johns Hopkins University, University College in London and other research institutions has begun to explore the science of mind-altering drugs and their effects on mental health issues like depression, smoking, alcoholism, anorexia and Alzheimer's disease.
Research this year with cancer patients at NYU showed that a single dose of psilocybin administered in a safe, medical setting helped patients "get out of that scared, stuck place," Stephen Ross, an associate professor of psychiatry at NYU Langone Health, in New York City said in January.
As for the new permitted uses of psilocybin in Oregon, "nobody's going to be taking psilocybin home with them to administer to themselves, which means that there will be none in public, no one driving," Beaverton therapist Tom Eckert, co-founder with his wife Sheri of Oregon Psilocybin Society, told opb.org.
The Eckerts have been advocating the ballot initiative since 2015. The couple, with degrees in social work have helped volunteers use psychedelic therapy to push patients into a new frame of mind that might let them become unstuck from mental fixations.
"The more intense the mystical experience the more clinical outcomes that are achieved," Tom Eckert told Psychedelics Today magazine.
"We need options. And this is a valid therapeutic option that could help thousands of people," Tom Eckert told OregonLive.
Oregon also voted Tuesday by 56% to decriminalize small amounts of other street drugs, including cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin.
The vote was one of several state ballot initiatives across the country that legalized recreational cannabis in New Jersey, Montana and Arizona, and legalized medical marijuana in South Dakota.