Oregon’s push to legalize psychedelic-assisted therapy began, as bold ideas often do, in the woods.
It was 2015, and Portland-based therapists Tom and Sheri Eckert had taken a trip to Mount Rainier, about 50 miles southeast of Seattle, to ponder the idea of creating a program for adults to legally access the power of magic mushrooms. The couple had just read Michael Pollan’s seminal New Yorker article, “The Trip Treatment,” which highlighted “stories of transformation,” as Sheri puts it, of patients who used psychedelics to treat various mental health conditions. Specifically, Pollan highlighted the power of psilocybin, a psychoactive compound found in hallucinogenic mushrooms. After reading it, “we got really inspired,” Sheri tells me over email, “but also apprehensive”; the idea of a statewide ballot initiative brought with it “a heavy sense of responsibility.”
“We decided to get out in nature and think more about it,” Tom tells me, also over email. “That night, over a campfire, we really talked it through.” They decided to devote the next five years of their lives to crafting and campaigning for a ballot measure that would bring psilocybin to “anyone who can safely benefit,” Sheri says, “while retaining the kind of practice standards that make the research so successful.”
They saw this as filling a particularly critical demand in their home state, where about one in four adults experience mental ... Read full story
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