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Deschutes Co. Commissioners Meeting Heats Up Over Psilocybin Vote

BEND, OR -- Deschutes County Commissioners formally voted Monday to ask voters in November to opt out of allowing psilocybin facilities in unincorporated areas.

Previous Coverage: Psilocybin Hearing Draws Dozens Of Supporters

Commission Phil Chang was the sole "no'' vote, expressing frustration with the debate over what he says is a scientifically proven treatment. He told the other two Commissioners, "You all have been trying to define this purely as a land use issue. But, to me, this is an issue that we need to consider under our authority as the local mental health authority and the community mental health program, because these treatments have been demonstrated by Johns Hopkins and a whole bunch of pretty prestigious medical institutions throughout the United States."

In November 2020, 53% of Deschutes County voters approved Measure 109, which legalized so-called "magic mushrooms" as a medical treatment in Oregon. Chang asked to discuss the wording of the new local measure, "I would encourage us to include those statistics in the measure language itself." But Commissioner Patti Adair, the Board Chair, replied, "I personally don’t want to go that far. People can write it when they want to. I believe that 19 of the 24 rural precincts voted against it. So, there’s different sides of the issue." Chang also said it's premature to vote on a measure when they haven't decided on the verbiage being sent to voters. The other two Commissioners agreed to debate the measure language on Wednesday. 

As they headed to a vote, Chang tried again, "I believe that referring this ballot measure is both unnecessary and an expense to the taxpayers of Deschutes County that we do not need to incur." Adair immediately responded, "Ok; for a vote then - Commissioner DeBone?" Tony DeBone voted yes. "Commissioner Chang?" He voted no. The vote closed with Adair saying, "And the Chair votes yes."

Crook and Jefferson Counties expect to send similar opt out questions to the ballot in November. Voters in those two counties opposed to M109 in 2020. 

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