Psychedelics on the Ballot: 2022 US Midterms

Coverage of two psychedelics policy reform initiatives on the ballot in Colorado and Oregon

Psychedelics Policy Reforms in Colorado & Oregon

Psychedelics-related policy reforms are appearing on the ballot in two states in the 2022 US elections: Colorado and Oregon.

In Colorado, voters will decide whether to endorse the Natural Medicine Health Act (Proposition 122), which would effectively decriminalize certain psychedelics and would create a state-regulated supervised psilocybin therapy program by 2024.

poll conducted in the last week of October suggests it will be a close race in Colorado, with 43% of voters intending to support the measure and 44.2% planning to oppose it. Support is up substantially from 36.3% in September, with around 10% of Coloradan voters leaving the “unsure” camp since then. With 12.8% of voters still undecided, it will be a nail-biting election night for proponents of the Proposition.

In Oregon, a number of counties and cities will vote on whether to Opt-Out of the Oregon Psilocybin Services Act (Measure 109), which is due to commence in 2023. We have been tracking these Opt-Out initiatives for a number of months.

Results: Colorado Proposition 122

Decriminalization and Regulated Access Program for Certain Psychedelic Plants and Fungi Initiative

Yes - 1,223,458 52.91%
No - 1,088,749 47.09%

Polls closed.

Analysis: Results in Colorado

Early results showed a significant lead among the Yes camp, but the race has narrowed significantly since then. As of 3:30 am ET, there’s not even two percent between Yes and No, with Yes having it by a whisker.

As of 3pm ET on Wednesday, it’s still a very close race. But, we called a Yes vote at noon, based on analysis of the counties that are yet to report.

Results: Oregon Measure 109 Opt-Outs

Analysis: Results in Oregon

Early vote counts show that a number of Oregon cities are leaning toward opting-out of psilocybin services.

The cities of Sandy, Astacada and Molalla, for example, all voted Yes to opt-out of psilocybin services by over 60%. 57.7% of counted votes in Clackamas County, meanwhile, support an opt-out. If this result holds, it will be very disappointing to campaigners: Clackamas voters endorsed Measure 109 back in 2020.

Early results from Clatsop County, which voted for Measure 109 back in 2020, will also disappoint proponents of Oregon’s psilocybin services. At the time of writing, over 55% of voters in the county have endorsed a temporary ban on psilocybin businesses in unincorporated Clatsop County (remember: county-level measures like this only apply to unincorporated land, while cities and other incorporated areas can make separate rules).

Voters in the City of Philomath, in Benton County, supported Measure 109 at a whopping rate of 60% just two years ago. Yesterday, however, it looks like voters changed their tune with over 50% of early votes supporting a moratorium on psilocybin services.

In Deschutes County, however, initial results suggest that voters have convincingly rejected the opt-out (55.33%). Indeed, some residents in the county formed a campaign group to oppose the opt-out measure, which may have been vindicated if this result holds.

Similarly, the 11pm results from Jackson County – where a second opt-out rejection campaign was active – hint that the county will deny the opt-out measure; albeit by a whisker.

On this point Sam Chapman, Executive Director of the Healing Advocay Fund, said that this shows that “when people hear about the potential of psilocybin therapy from their own community members, they understand why it’s important”.

Victor Cabral, Director of Policy at psychedelic therapist training company Fluence, told Psychedelic Alpha that these opt-outs will impact cost and access for everyone involved, “from clinicians and manufacturers to community members seeking treatment.” On a more positive note, Cabral explained that, “the hope is that over time, successful implementation and improvement of the Measure 109 program in counties that opt-in will lead to wider adoption across the state.”

Chapman agreed, predicting that “as the therapy gets implemented in Oregon communities in 2023 and beyond, voters will continue to learn about how it can help address our state’s mental health crisis, and over time access will only continue to expand.”

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