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Sam Chapman Is Asking Oregonians to Approve Mushrooms to Ease Depression

If Measure 109 passes, it would make Oregon the first state to sanction psilocybin therapy.

WW presents "Distant Voices," a daily video interview for the era of social distancing. Our reporters are asking Portlanders what they're doing during quarantine.

Oregon has the nation's highest rates of untreated mental illness and addiction. The COVID-19 pandemic is only making anxiety and depression worse.

Sam Chapman says desperate times call for new treatments. He suggests mushrooms.

More specifically, Chapman is asking Oregonians to approve Ballot Measure 109, which would legalize psilocybin therapy. In other words, licensed facilitators would be allowed to use psilocybin, the active component in hallucinogenic mushrooms, in sessions where anguished people could explore the roots of their trauma.

If Measure 109 passes, it would make Oregon the first state to sanction such therapy. This state has a storied history as a pathfinder via ballot initiatives, from Death With Dignity to recreational cannabis, and psilocybin advocates hope to join that list. It's an idea that has the support of drug policy reformers and the family behind Dr. Bronner's Soap—if not very many elected officials.

Chapman, the campaign manager for Yes on Measure 109 (who surfs and practices jiu jitsu when not stumping for 'shrooms), sat down with WW editor and publisher Mark Zusman to discuss how the therapy would work, who still needs convincing, and what Big Pharma thinks of psilocybin.