CG City Council defers 'Magic Mushroom' debate to voters


Oregon is generally regarded as a state that is pro-marijuana. Yet, when looking at a map that displays which counties and city municipalities have active OLCC (Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission) bans against the substance in place, one might have to reconsider that assumption. In South Lane County, the City of Creswell voted no against Ballot Measure 20-280 in 2016, effectively denying marijuana producers the privilege of growing, processing, or selling the product within city limits.

Why this factoid is important is because Oregon residents find themselves experiencing something like deja vu in recent weeks. On July 12, the Cottage Grove City Council was asked to consider passing an ordinance that is essentially a carbon copy of the OLCC marijuana ban, the only difference being that “magic mushrooms” are now at the center of public debate.

In 2020, the Psilocybin Program Initiative received enough petition signatures to earn it a spot on the November general election ballot as Measure 109. Just as marijuana was legalized, Measure 109 was approved by Oregon voters. The victory bells were rung. In two year’s time, the measure stated, Oregon Health Authority would have the nation’s first legal system in place that could offer psilocybin – under the direction of a licensed facilitator - to adults age 21 and over for therapeutic purposes: combating drug addiction, depression, suicide ideation, etc.

Whether Measure 109 is part of a larger political framework aimed at decriminalizing drug use, has yet to be seen. While current research offers some insight into ways in which neural networks can spiral into negative feedback loops when presented with fear and stress, the “positive” description of psilocybin on the human brain does sound as if the drug is causing a type of brain damage.

As multiple studies have come out to describe, it appears that it is the tendency of the psychedelic experience (at least with psilocybin) to evoke non-typical and stratified neural responses to stimuli. In essence, the use of magic mushrooms appears to stimulate the mind in a way that allows a patient to take the “road not traveled” more easily than what engrained physiological systems might typically allow.

Authors representing several universities and biotech companies worked together to produce the article entitled “The Therapeutic Potential of Psilocybin.” Since it was written in May of last year, the study has been published both on the National Institute of Health’s website and in the scientific journal, Molecules (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8156539/). Elaborating on the concept of negatively engrained neural pathways and how connectivity changes can stimulate novel ways of feeling and acting, the study stated the following:

"Psilocybin is reported to result in significant changes in brain dynamics and functional connectivity (FC) between areas of the brain. ?Psilocybin-induced alteration in brain connectivity involves the disintegration of associative networks and integration of sensory function networks… Psilocybin treatment, in some cases with psychological support, also resulted in increased responsiveness to positive emotional stimuli in the right amygdala and decreased/normalization of responsiveness to negative or neutral emotional stimuli. Psilocybin was also shown to attenuate amygdala activation in response to threat-related visual stimuli and reduced threat-induced modulation of the primary visual cortex by the amygdala…”

At the Cottage Grove City Council meeting, Councilor Greg Ervin brought up an important notion: here was the City Council and City staff speaking about voting on an ordinance to potentially introduce safeguards to slow down the introduction of state-sanctioned psilocybin treatment systems, but little information had yet been released or produced on the matter. How could he vote on the issue, or ask his constituents to vote on the issue, if there was not yet enough information available with which to make an informed decision?

Still, the City Council voted on July 25 to defer the decision to Cottage Grove residents during the upcoming November general election. At the previous City Council meeting, the Council held the first vote on Ordinance No. 3162 Declaring a Ban on Psilocybin Service Centers and the Manufacture of Psilocybin Products. Ordinance No. 3162 refers to the voters at the next statewide general election a ban on Psilocybin Service Centers and Manufacture of Psilocybin Products. The ban would take effect 30 days after the general election if approved by voters.

An additional item on the agenda, a Resolution Calling an Election on November 8, 2022, to Refer to the Voters an Ordinance Prohibiting Psilocybin Businesses within the City of Cottage Grove, OR, and Adopting a Ballot Title and Explanatory Statement is on the agenda for the Council to consider.

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