Mark Zuckerberg Makes Donation to Legalize Psilocybin

Initiatives in Oregon Push for Decriminalization of Schedule 1 Drugs and for the Legalization of Medical Psilocybin.

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Advocacy donated a large contribution of $500,000 in support of Measure 110, a proposed change that would decriminalize drug possession. This donation followed a statement from CEO David Bronner calling for support and donors to back the measure, "we just want to send a signal to the donor community that this is a really important ballot measure to support". Measure 110 is closely tied to Measure 109, which serves to legalize medical psilocybin, subject to a 15% taxation scheme. If successful, Oregon promises to be the first state to legalize magic mushrooms, following the path of cities such as Oakland and Denver, that have decriminalized psilocybin.

Kayse Jama, Executive Director of Unite Oregon, endorses the proposed measures by contextualising alternative medical treatment in the time of the COVID-19 crisis: "The need for this measure is more urgent right now more than ever, because jails and prisons have turned into contagion hotspots during the pandemic". The measures are also supported by the Oregon Democratic Party. Relieving the prison system is not the only benefit psilocybin may bestow upon Oregon: health facilities and institutions may be able to divert patients to facilities specifically equipped to treat mental health, therefore taking the strain off hospitals.

What does psilocybin legalization have to do with cannabis?

Measures 109 and 110 will redirect tax revenue from legal cannabis sales into expanded medical treatment programs for substance addiction and misuse. This means valuable tax dollars being paid by cannabis users will be channelled into helping those with drug dependencies and misuse issues. However, unlike marijuana, which is consumed by roughly half of Americans, shrooms are used infrequently. Only 0.1 percent of respondents to a nation-wide survey reported psychedelic use within the last year.

Psilocybin-assisted therapy in licensed settings is what the science supports. That's our approach in Oregon. And that's why we believe Oregonians deserve access.Tom Eckert, Chief Petitioner

The proposed psilocybin therapy programs are borne from a breadth research initiatives that have discovered the benefits of magic mushrooms on mental health. A 2006 study by Roland R. Griffiths established that the consumption of psilocybin lead to joy and extreme happiness, with long-lasting effects of substantial mood benefits. In the same study, 67% of patients described their experience with magic mushrooms as "either the single most meaningful experience of his or her life or among the top five most meaningful experiences of his or her life".

Ultimately, Zuckerberg is backing a proposal that, according to Chief Petitioner Tom Eckert, "is about giving Oregonians safe, legal, regulated access to psilocybin-assisted therapy in licensed settings, with trained and competent facilitators". The measure would allow licence holders to provide psilocybin therapy, cultivate psilocybin, or own a psilocybin service center, which aims to help those with mental health problems. According to therapist Sheri Eckert, "Oregon has some of the highest rates of depression, anxiety, and addiction in the country," leading her to support the legalization of psylocibin because of the mental health benefits it promises.

Time will tell whether Oregonians vote to legalize psilocybin and decriminalize an array of schedule 1 drugs under Measure 110 and 109 when put to ballot in November. The health benefits, as well as the budding industry promising to emerge from the legalization of shrooms would expand the growing legal substance markets and offer expansive opportunity for investors to capitalize on a brand new industry.

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Mikayla Chadwick
Mikayla Chadwick

Mikayla Chadwick is a Melbourne-based writer, focused on human and legal rights, global affairs and popular culture. Mikayla holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree and is currently completing a research degree in sex work policy reform.

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