Tom Eckert, the chair of Oregon’s Psilocybin Advisory Board who led the campaign to legalize hallucinogenic mushroom therapy as co-chief petitioner of Measure 109, resigned from his role on the board Thursday morning.
“I am writing to let everyone know that I will be vacating my volunteer appointment with the Oregon Psilocybin Advisory Board, effective immediately,” Eckert wrote March 10. “It is a day of satisfaction for me, knowing that I have helped carry out the bold policymaking mission that my late, great wife Sheri and I initiated some seven years ago.”
Eckert’s resignation letter did not cite a specific reason for his departure, although he noted that he did not want to “distract” from the board’s work.
“As my life continues to change, with more relationships taking shape, I am mindful of appearances,” Eckert wrote. “I do not want anything to distract from the earnest work of this Advisory Board. It feels like the right time to orient my energies to the next phase of the journey. I look forward to supporting the development of Oregon’s psilocybin infrastructure in new and different roles.”
The Oregon Health Authority, which oversees the advisory board, also issued a statement.
“We want to thank Tom Eckert for his service on the Oregon Psilocybin Advisory Board,” OHA said. “Under Tom’s leadership as chair, the board has reached many important benchmarks. From organizing the advisory board into subcommittees, meeting the statutory requirement to publish the Scientific Literature Review, to making recommendations to the Oregon Health Authority for rulemaking, the board has had a remarkable year. We wish Tom the best in his future endeavors as we celebrate these important accomplishments.”
This morning, WW obtained emails through a public records request that showed some board members had called for Eckert’s resignation.
On March 3, board member Rachel Knox emailed fellow board members as well as OHA staff asking for an executive session to discuss the matter. The OHA declined Knox’s request.
“There are calls for Tom’s resignation—several of those calls coming from other board members and subcommittee members,” Knox wrote. “A meeting such as this should have been called by Tom himself had he wanted to avoid the media fallout that occurred last week.”
After hours of back-and-forth between board members and health authority staff, OHA’s Angela Allbee, manager of the Oregon Psilocybin Services Section, wrote back to Knox on Friday evening.
“I am sorry to hear this, as I have genuinely listened to your concerns and tried to help provide suggestions,” Allbee said. “Upon hearing that you had spoken with a number of board members that have requested the removal of another board member, I offered to bring your concerns to the governor’s office. You declined and stated that you would talk to the governor’s office directly. I am sorry that we are unable to call an executive session.”
The emails also show that OHA’s Andre Ourso planned to discuss the matter Monday, March 7, with Jeff Rhoades, a senior policy adviser in the governor’s office.
Last month, WW wrote about the board’s Feb. 23 meeting in which the members voted unanimously to disclose conflicts of interest at the next meeting, slated for March 23. Shortly thereafter, VICE published a story alleging that Eckert had a relationship with the CEO of the Synthesis Institute, a Dutch psilocybin company that has presented to the board and that intends to open a psilocybin service center in Oregon.
Eckert also has plans to enter the psilocybin industry. He founded InnerTrek LLC, a training company for psilocybin service center facilitators. Eckert told WW last month that he expects to begin training his first cohort of students this summer.
Reached by email Thursday, Eckert declined further comment. His resignation landed hours before he was slated to chair the board’s training subcommittee meeting today at 1 pm.