The City Council voted unanimously Thursday to allow Measure 109 without asking city residents to vote on a ban.
A vendor packs psilocybin mushrooms at a pop-up cannabis market in Los Angeles in 2019. The Medford City Council decided Thursday not to seek a ban on the medicinal use of the mushrooms. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)
Medford will allow psilocybin treatment centers next year, the City Council decided unanimously Thursday night.
A proposed November ballot measure asking Medford voters to approve either a two-year ban or a permanent ban on psilocybin therapy was rejected.
Instead, Medford staff will develop time, place and manner regulations for therapy sites and mushroom cultivation businesses.
“Let’s start now, and let’s not waste any more staff time sending this to the voters,” said Councilman Clay Bearnson, who made the motion not to seek a ballot measure aimed at banning psilocybin from the city.
Medford now joins Ashland, which also voted against asking its voters to approve a ban, to allow psilocybin facilities in their respective cities.
Central Point, Phoenix and Jackson County have decided to put a ban on the November ballot.
In November 2020, Oregon voters approved Measure 109, the Oregon Psilocybin Service Act, which allows the manufacture, delivery and administration of psilocybin in licensed facilities. The state will begin processing licenses in January 2023.
Medford voters approved Measure 109 by 201 votes, according to Jackson County Clerk Chris Walker.
Earlier, a Medford official indicated the measure lost by 800 votes in the city, but Walker said the calculation included two rural precincts that are not in city limits.
In July, Jackson County commissioners approved putting a measure on the Nov. 8 ballot asking voters to ban psilocybin mushrooms despite strong support for psilocybin therapy during a public hearing.
The county ordinance would not affect local cities allowing psilocybin in their communities, but the measure, if passed, would bar therapy centers in unincorporated areas of the county.
Last week, the Medford council held a study session that delved into the regulations surrounding the licensing of locations for psilocybin, sometimes known as “magic mushrooms.”
The Oregon Health Authority is still developing licensing regulations, which has caused concern for cities and counties that must write their own rules about hours of operation, where they can be located and other rules on how to operate. The rules must be written before the state begins processing licenses in January.
Proponents of psilocybin therapy say it has proven effective in treating post-traumatic stress disorder, addiction, mental illness and other problems.
Will Lucas, who helped campaign in support of Measure 109, told councilors that psilocybin therapy will be a regulated industry with licensing and insurance policies.
“You can trust that professional services will be done for the benefit of the client,” he said.
He said if the council were to put the measure on the ballot in November, and potentially fail, it would leave little time for the city to prepare for licensed facilities.
“You only have from mid-November to January to set the time, place and manner,” he said.
He said he would prefer the city prepare regulations for psilocybin rather than go through the effort of a ballot measure.
Lucas said he and others were prepared to campaign against a Medford measure.
In July, the council heard from many county residents about the importance of psilocybin therapy, including veterans.
They also heard from supporters who said that this limited use of psilocybin in a licensed treatment center would not resemble the legalization of cannabis.
Mushroom cultivation will be done in an indoor facility and should not have the odor associated with cannabis.
The psilocybin law will allow anyone 21 years of age or older to seek treatment at a licensed therapy facility. Unlike cannabis, psilocybin cannot be used at home or recreationally.
Councilors decided the best use of the city’s time was to craft regulations on psilocybin treatment rather than pursue a ballot measure.
“Doubling staff time is not an efficient way to run our city,” said Councilman Tim D’Alessandro.
Contact freelance writer Damian Mann at firstname.lastname@example.org.