This has been a good week for anyone who appreciates the many benefits of psilocybin—especially if you live in Washington, D.C. or the beautiful state of Oregon.

Washington, D.C. and Oregon both passed very important initiatives concerning the use, possession, and professional administration of psilocybin. As amateur microscopists who study psilocybin mushroom spores, this is undoubtedly good news.

In this week’s post, we’re going to take a closer look at each initiative and what their approval means for the future of psilocybin in the United States. Let’s begin with Oregon:

APPROVED: Oregon Measure 109, Psilocybin Mushroom Services Program Initiative (2020)

On November 3rd, 2020, Oregon voters chose to approve Measure 109, which took some pretty major steps forward for the legal use of psilocybin. The passage of the initiative means that now the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) is allowed to give permission to licensed service providers to administer “psilocybin-producing mushroom and fungi products” to patients 21 and older.

What this means is that therapists, among other qualified providers, can now begin legally providing psilocybin-assisted therapy to patients who they believe will benefit from such a treatment. The providers doing so will be required to deliver and administer psilocybin products from supervised, licensed facilities.

Psilocybin may be an effective treatment for mental health disorders such as depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety, and addiction. Supporters of the initiative are hopeful that these treatments will have positive results for mental health patients, as pointed out by the campaign manager for Yes on 109:

Oregonians suffering from depression and anxiety have a new option for hope from this new breakthrough therapy.

Sam Chapman, campaign manager for Yes on 109 via Salem Statesman Journal.

To learn more about psilocybin-assisted therapy and why many providers believe that it could be a major development in the field of mental health treatment, check out our post on out our post on What is Psilocybin-Assisted Therapy, and Why Are Medical Professionals so Excited About It?

The long and short of it is this: this is a big win for psilocybin advocates and mental health patients alike. Considering that psilocybin research was, at one point, nearly completely halted for decades in the United States, the approval of this initiative in Oregon is further proof of a changing societal (and legal) opinion about psilocybin.

As it turns out, Oregon wasn’t the only region to make good headway in this regard—let’s turn our focus now to Initiative 81 in Washington, D.C.:

APPROVED: Initiative 81, Entheogenic Plants and Fungus Measure (2020)

On November 3rd, 2020, over three-quarters of voters in Washington D.C. voted decisively to decriminalize psilocybin and other compounds.

If you’re a regular reader of articles on Quality Spores, you know this is a drum we often beat, but it bears repeating now because it’s so important to understand: decriminalization is not the same thing is legalization, as is so often misunderstood. Decriminalization means that the police will consider the substance or behavior in question to be considered among their lowest priorities. In other words, still illegal—just not among major concerns for law enforcement.

Read our article on psilocybin spore legality for your state for a more nuanced explanation of the difference between legalization and decriminalization.

A road and vehicles in Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C. voters overwhelmingly approved Initiative 81 on November 3, 2020.

So, with that in mind, in Washington D.C., Initiative 81 was approved to decriminalize what is described as “entheogenic plants and fungi,” which effectively includes any species of plant or fungi which contains:

  • psilocybin
  • psilocin
  • ibogaine
  • dimethyltryptamine (DMT)
  • mescaline

This, of course, includes “magic” mushrooms. One of the major arguments in favor of this initiative echoed the sentiments of Oregon’s Measure 109—that psilocybin and other naturally-occurring compounds may have a substantial effect on depression and anxiety.

Proponents in Washington, D.C. pointed out studies which conclusively indicated that late-stage cancer patients (in other words, people facing their own immediate mortality) have experienced dramatic reductions in feelings of fear, stress, anxiety, and depression thanks to psilocybin.

What Does the Approval Of These Two Initiatives Mean for the Future of Psilocybin in the United States?

A person's face obscured by light and color, used to illustrate a psychoactive state.

The future of psilocybin in the United States could probably best be described as a “slow but steady” march toward legalization. While we don’t predict any major changes in the legality of psilocybin or similar compounds at the federal level, at least not anytime soon, it’s clear that people are becoming more and more aware of the beneficial nature of these substances. The future is clear, but it won’t be an overnight process.

For example, while Oregon’s Measure 109 is a far cry from “full” legalization, it’s very much a step in the right direction—in the coming months and years, we suspect that an increasing number of mental health patients will show undeniable benefit from psilocybin-assisted therapy. It’s not hard to imagine that such positive results will lead to further efforts to fully legalize psilocybin-containing fungi like Psilocybe cubensis and others.

Psilocybin Mushroom Spores Already Legal in 47 of 50 States

Since psilocybin mushroom spores don’t actually contain any psilocybin—the compound isn’t present until the later stages of development.

Owning and studying mushroom spores under microscope is legal and a wonderful hobby for anyone interested in microscopy or taxonomy. It only becomes illegal when the spores are cultivated into mature fungi, with some exceptions such as in New Mexico.