Oregon couple pushes to put mushroom therapy on the ballot

Oregon voters could have the chance of legalizing medical magical mushrooms.

Psilocybin is a compound found in certain types of mushrooms believed to have psycho-therapeutic effects.

Mushrooms are currently banned in the U.S., but Tom Eckert believes they are the answer to Oregon's mental health crisis.

"Treating a variety of mental health issues including depression, anxiety, addiction of all kinds including alcoholism and smoking," said Eckert.

Eckert and his wife, Sheri, lead the Oregon Psilocybin Society. They're pushing to legalize Psilocybin and make it accessible by creating safe spaces for regulated and supervised therapy sessions. They're hoping to get enough signatures to get PSI on the 2020 Oregon ballot.

"There will be trained facilitators that would move clients through sequence of sessions, starting with preparation, then Psilocybin itself, then integration afterwards," said Eckert.

Studies done by universities like Johns Hopkins have shown positive results.

Dr. Dan Bristow, the president-elect of the Oregon Psychiatric Physicians Association, says the research isn't complete. He says studies have been small, and larger trials need to be complete to determine if psilocybin could be useful or safe as a medicine.

"There's a lot of risk to the public in doing something too quickly before you know it's safe," he said.

He adds insufficient studies can also burden medical resources. Still, he says he's not against the idea of using Psilocybin.

"We want good science, we want good treatment backed by good science that help people, and until we have that, we remain scientifically skeptical," Bristow said.

Bristow thinks there could be enough science on Psilocybin in the next 3 to 5 years.

Both Eckert and Bristow believe Psilocybin isn't ready to be used recreationally.

Currently, the FDA classifies Psilocybin as a Schedule 1 drug, which means it's not only illegal, but deemed the most harmful to the public.

Other drugs classified as Schedule 1 include heroin, LSD, and cannabis.

Drugs classified as Schedule II are considered less addictive.

Those include opioids, cocaine, and methamphetamine.

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