Washington County commissioners voted 3-2 to allow psychedelic mushroom businesses to operate in unincorporated parts of the county as planned under Measure 109, the Oregon Psilocybin Services Act, defeating a resolution and order that would have sent the measure back to voters in November, as many Oregon counties intend to do.
County staff recommended the new vote, saying that Measure 109 should be delayed in Washington County until the Oregon Health Authority finishes making rules that will govern how the measure is implemented.
“OHA has initiated its rule making process,” the defeated resolution said. “However, the regulatory program will not likely be complete by September 8, 2022, which is the deadline for local governments to refer a measure for the November ballot.”
Measure 109 allows counties to opt out of the psilocybin business, which includes manufacturing sites and facilities where people can take the drug under supervision by trained practitioners.
As of last month, 24 of Oregon’s 36 counties had started public hearings required to put an opt-out measure on the ballot, according to a July 29 analysis by KATU. Including Washington County, eight will not hold an opt-out vote, and the others are undecided, KATU found. (Multnomah County, which contains Portland, will let the psilocybin trips commence.)
The three women on the Washington County Board of Commissioners, Kathryn Harrington, Nafisa Fai and Pam Treece, all voted against requiring another vote, while the two men, Roy Rogers and Jerry Willey, voted for it.
Harrington made the most impassioned case for nixing another vote, saying it would defy the will of Washington County voters, who passed Measure 109 by 59% to 41%, a wider margin than the statewide 56% to 44%. Moreover, she said, there is ample evidence that psilocybin has the potential to help with an array of mental disorders.
“All you have to do is Google ‘OHA and psilocybin,’ and if you’re not sure how to spell it, it’s P-S-I-L-O-C-Y-B-I-N,” Harrington said. “It makes it very clear that research suggests that psilocybin may help reduce depression, anxiety—including end-of-life anxiety—problematic alcohol and tobacco use, and trauma related disorders, including PTSD,” Harrington said.
Finding sites for psilocybin businesses will be easier than doing so with cannabis enterprises because there are no retail sales of psilocybin, Harrington said. “The manufacturing is quite controlled as well.”
Sam Chapman, campaign manager for Measure 109, praised the Washington County commissioners.
“This is the outcome we were hoping for,” Chapman said. “They got educated pretty quickly on what psilocybin is and what it does.”