Pandemic forces Portland activists to change tactics in seeking decriminalization of psychedelics in the city

There’s also a statewide proposal, IP 34, seeking access to licensed psilocybin therapy in Oregon.

A tiny magic mushroom. Photo by Zoromoreno.


Late last year, a group called Decriminalize Nature Portland launched a signature-collection drive aimed at getting an initiative before voters

The goal was for Portland to become the fourth U.S. city to decriminalize psychedelic plant medicines.

However, a pandemic got in the way of the group’s efforts to secure more than 37,000 signatures by a deadline in early July.

So it has decided to take a new approach: work with Portland city council to pass a “Decriminalizing Nature ordinance”.

On its Facebook page, it’s urging supporters to write a short letter to Portland’s mayor and city commissioners “to decriminalize entheogenic Plants and Fungus that are currently schedule 1 and are under the Controlled Substances Act”.

The emails should be sent to Ted Wheeler (, Chloe Eudaly (, Amanda Fritz (, and Jo Ann Hardesty (

“Share your story, share the research, share your perspective on the importance of strengthening our relationship with Nature,” Decriminalize Nature Portland says on its Facebook page. “Let’s lay the path for our Future, one that is hand-in-hand with the Medicines Nature provides.”

In 2019, Denver became the first city in the United States to decriminalize magic mushrooms in a ballot initiative. That was followed by Oakland, which decriminalized other psychedelics as well.

Meanwhile, there’s a statewide proposal, known as IP 34, for Oregon voters to endorse legal access to licensed psilocybin therapy.

“Rigorous studies at leading medical research institutions such as Johns Hopkins, UCLA, and NYU show that psilocybin is uniquely effective in treating depression, anxiety, and addiction,” the proponents stated on a Yes on IP 34 website. “It shows so much promise the FDA recently granted it a ‘breakthrough therapy’ designation — meaning that psilocybin assisted therapy may demonstrate substantial improvement over what’s currently available.”

The 71-page initiative calls for the creation of an Oregon Psilocybin Advisory Board.

It would make recommendations to the Oregon Health Authority “on the available medical, psychological, and scientific studies, research, and other information relating to the safety and efficacy of psilocybin in treating mental health conditions, including but not limited to addiction, depression, anxiety disorders, and end-of-life psychological distress”.

Charlie Smith

I'm the editor of the Georgia Straight newspaper in Vancouver, as well as a CannCentral contributor.

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