Election 2022: Voters around Union County approve psilocybin-related bans

Nov. 9—LA GRANDE — Two years after Oregon voters approved a ballot measure to allow psilocybin businesses, local communities have rejected the measure.

Five anti-psilocybin measures in Union County, La Grande, Cove, North Powder and Union — have passed with results still pending for Island City's anti-psilocybin measure, according to Wednesday, Nov. 9, election results from the Union County Clerk's Office.

Voting yes establishes the ban; voting no rejects the ban on psilocybin businesses.

Union County voters approved Measure 31-109, with 61% of the vote. The measure asked voters whether they wanted psilocybin product manufacturers and psilocybin service center operators prohibited from doing business in unincorporated portions of Union County.

Union County Commissioner Paul Anderes is pleased with how the county's vote is going.

"I am happy that the ban is currently passing," he said.

Anderes said the ban is needed because there are too many unanswered questions regarding how the state would regulate psilocybin.

La Grande voters approved a measure prohibiting psilocybin businesses by 13 percentage points with 56.8% voting in favor.

La Grande City Manager Robert Strope said the voter returns on the psilocybin measures reflect how uncomfortable people are about the drug. Strope believes this is because many voters are unfamiliar with psilocybin.

"I think that people don't think they know enough to make an informed decision," he said.

Similar measures also were victorious in Cove, with 74% in favor, North Powder, which passed with 60 approval and in Union with 71%.

La Grande, Cove, Union, Island City and North Powder are among 57 cities in Oregon which voted on either a two-year moratorium or a full-fledged ban on psilocybin. Union County was also not alone. Statewide, 26 counties voted on either a two-year moratorium or a ban.

Psilocybin is the active ingredient in hallucinogenic mushrooms, and research has indicated it may be a useful drug in treating a variety of conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder, which many veterans suffer from.

The sale and manufacture of psilocybin in Oregon will be legal starting Jan. 2 under Measure 109, which voters approved in 2020. Measure 109 will go into effect at that time everywhere in the state where ordinances banning psilocybin were not approved or voted upon in the Nov. 8 election.

Union County Commissioner Donna Beverage is pleased that voters are rejecting psilocybin.

"I am very happy with what the voters have decided," she said, adding she was concerned about psilocybin being legalized because no regulations for his use had been in place.

Union County Commissioner Matt Scarfo shares Beverage's sentiment.

"I don't believe that any drug should be legalized before regulations for its use are in place," he said, adding this is a classic case of the state putting the cart before the horse.

Dick Mason is a reporter with The Observer. Contact him at 541-624-6016 or dmason@lagrandeobserver.com.