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Deschutes County voters will decide to reaffirm or reverse course on Measure 109, the bill that legalized psilocybin-assisted therapies

The Deschutes County Board of Commissioners is sending a ballot measure to voters this November that would ban psilocybin clinics and manufacturing on unincorporated Deschutes County land. Measure 109 legalized psilocybin-assisted therapies in 2020, but some details are still being worked out at the state level as the program’s start date approaches in January 2023.

Measure 109 passed with 55% of voters supporting the measure, including 52% of voters in Deschutes County. Deschutes is joining several other counties including Umatilla, Linn, Jackson and Morrow, where measures on opt-outs will be on voters’ ballots this November.

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Deschutes County Commissioners Patti Adair and Tony DeBone voted to add the ballot measure, and Commissioner Phil Chang voted against. 

DeBone cited the land use implications of Measure 109 as the biggest factor in his decision to support a ballot measure. The bill’s only land use rules ban psilocybin facilities in residential areas or within 1,000 feet of a school. 

“It’s about where, where would it be landed in Deschutes County,” DeBone said during the Board of County Commissioners meeting on July 20.

Adair said she believes the state’s requirements to become a facilitator — someone administering psilocybin — should be higher. Facilitators need a high school education, and pass a course with 125 hours of instruction, 40 hours practicing techniques and passing a final exam. She also expressed concern that the legal psilocybin market could contribute to more black market mushrooms.

Chang, the lone dissenting vote, said he believes it’s a waste of county resources to rescind a bill that county voters approved just over a year and a half ago. Chang reported hearing from 75 people who supported Measure 109 during the board’s public hearing from both in-person testimony and emails, and fewer than 10 people in opposition. Over 30 locals and 10 people from other counties spoke during the public hearing that preceded the board’s decision.

“There’s insufficient opposition to psilocybin access in this county for the ballot measure to produce results any different than they produced in 2020. And it will cost us; it will cost us legal time, it’ll cost us county clerk time, it’ll cost us community development time to pursue an opt-out ballot measure,” Chang said. “Instead, we could be taking those resources and applying them to the development of time, place and manner regulations.”

He also argued that the assumption that an illegal market would benefit from legal psilocybin is unsubstantiated. The county is moving forward with time, place and manner amendments for psilocybin, and at its board meeting on July 27 commissioners directed staff to begin studying how regulations would play out.

About The Author

Jack Harvel

Jack is originally from Kansas City, Missouri and has been making his way west since graduating from the University of Missouri, working a year and a half in Northeast Colorado before moving to Bend in the Spring of 2021. When not reporting he’s either playing folk songs (poorly) or grand strategy video games,...
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