Anita Savio, IVN contributing writer
The fate of psilocybin-related businesses in Josephine County was decided by the voters this last election round. But some confusion remains. In 2020 the Oregon Legislature passed Measure 109, authorizing the Oregon Health Authority to create a program to permit licensed service providers to administer psilocybin-producing mushroom and fungi products to adult individuals. But that same legislation permitted Oregon counties and cities to vote on whether or not to prohibit such businesses.
In this past election round, Josephine County residents voted on local Measures 17-111 and 17-112, which asked if voters wished to “prohibit” psilocybin manufacturing and psilocybin service centers in the unincorporated county. But the ballot titles caused some head scratching, because a “no” vote meant the businesses would not be allowed, while a “yes” vote would have allowed such businesses. Understanding the measure demanded a close reading of the explanation in the voters’ pamphlet.
Ultimately, 72.6 % voted to prohibit psilocybin service centers and 82.7% voted to prohibit psilocybin manufacturing. When the Illinois Valley News contacted county legal counsel Wally Hicks regarding the ballot confusion he suggested that Josephine County voters feeling the need to read their ballot materials carefully contributed to the disparity between the local results on the state’s Ballot Measure 109 (53.7% voting against legalization), and the results on these county measures.
Note: County and city voting results have not yet been certified by the secretary of state’s office. So exact figures may vary slightly.
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In the meantime, city of Cave Junction residents approved by 63.6 % a measure to place a two-year moratorium on “psilocybin-related businesses.” According to Cave Junction Mayor Meadow Martell, the reasoning behind the moratorium is that state regulations for the service centers have not yet been established. But what are psilocybin businesses? It turns out that the measure was meant to refer only to service centers and not to manufacturing, as Cave Junction city officials interpreted Measure 109 to prohibit psilocybin manufacturing in non-agricultural zones, and Cave Junction has no agricultural zoning. Nevertheless, according to Erica Heartquist, from the Public Health Division Communications Office of the Oregon Health Authority, psilocybin cultivation is not allowed outdoors, which suggests that its manufacture could potentially be allowed in an industrial zone or even a commercial zone.
However, Josephine County residents wishing to be treated with psilocybin may still have convenient access, as city of Grants Pass residents did not vote on that question. By default, both manufacturing and service centers will now be allowed in Grants Pass. The city is considering an ordinance which would classify both activities as “Adult Uses,” disallowing them only in residential zones, with some other restrictions.
We also took a look at how other southwest Oregon counties voted on the issue. The residents of Douglas, Coos, Curry and Klamath counties all voted to prohibit psilocybin manufacturing and service centers in their unincorporated areas. Only Jackson County residents voted to allow.