Marion and Polk voters will see psilocybin bans on the 2022 ballot

Many local voters will get a chance to decide whether their cities or counties should be home to psilocybin facilities in the coming general election on Nov. 8. 

Ballots in Marion and Polk counties have a total of 20 measures asking voters whether to prohibit psilocybin manufacturing and businesses within the areas they serve. The city of Salem is one of the few jurisdictions without a psilocybin ban on the ballot.

These measures come in response to Oregon’s approval of Measure 109 in 2020, which made it the first state to authorize the use of psilocybin, the psychoactive substance found in magic mushrooms, in medical settings to those 21 years or older. It is intended to be of use especially for therapeutic reasons. The state’s Psilocybin Services Section will begin accepting applications for licensure in January 2023. 

However, local voters will get to choose how directly the law affects them this election. 

Boards of Commissioners for both Marion and Polk counties placed measures on the ballot to this effect. Though the measures only affect unincorporated areas of the county, all county voters will get a say.

Marion County’s Measure 24-465 asks voters whether to prohibit the establishment and operation of psilocybin product manufacturing and service centers within their unincorporated areas. 

In July, Marion County’s Board of Commissioners passed an ordinance putting the measure on the November ballot, noting they believed it to be “in the best interest of the health, safety, and welfare of the citizens of Marion County,” according to the ordinance. The board also noted that the majority of Marion County voters did not approve the statewide measure in 2020, with 50.5% voting no. 

Polk County’s Measure 27-139 only asks voters to prohibit “psilocybin businesses” in its unincorporated areas. The Board of Commissioners approved putting this on the ballot at its meeting on Aug. 17 with a 2-1 vote. Commissioner Jeremy Gordon voted against the prohibition. In 2020, 51% of Polk voters cast a vote against Measure 109. 

Fourteen cities have also placed similar measures on the ballot. In Marion County, 11 cities have a measure on the ballot prohibiting psilocybin: Aumsville, Gates, Hubbard, Jefferson, Keizer, Mill City, Stayton, St. Paul, Sublimity, Turner, and Woodburn.

Three cities in Polk County have a similar measure on the ballot: Dallas, Independence, and Willamina. 

Willamina, Jefferson, Hubbard and Gates’ measures note that the prohibition would sunset after two years. 

Some cities, such Sublimity, cited wanting more information about how the Oregon Health Authority would manage this as reasons for putting it on the ballot. Sublimity’s City Council unanimously approved the ordinance prohibiting psilocybin-related use during its July 11th meeting for this reason. 

“OHA has initiated a rulemaking process to implement the State’s psilocybin program but has not yet completed that process. The uncompleted rulemaking leaves uncertainty in how the manufacture, delivery, and administration of psilocybin at licensed psilocybin facilities will operate within the City of Sublimity,” the voter’s pamphlet states. 

If approved, these measures would opt the areas out of the statewide psilocybin rollout next year. 

Contact reporter Jordyn Brown at [email protected].

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Jordyn Brown is an Oregon journalist who formerly worked for the Eugene Register-Guard.