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Oregon to Vote on Legalizing Psychedelic Mushrooms, Creating ‘Psilocybin Therapy’ System

Oregon is taking concrete steps toward becoming the first state to end the prohibition of psilocybin or “magic” mushrooms.

Elias Marat

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(TMU) – Oregon is taking concrete steps toward becoming the first state to end the prohibition of psilocybin or “magic” mushrooms.

Advocates from the Oregon Psilocybin Therapy Initiative, or Initiative Petition #34, said in a press conference Monday that they’ve managed to gather nearly 165,000 signatures, allowing voters in the Pacific Northwest state to decide this November whether the state will legalize the use of psilocybin in therapeutic settings, reports Oregon Live.

Once election officials can verify the validity of the signatures and count them the ballot measure will be included on the November ballot.

The proposed measure seeks to make legal the use of the psychedelic fungus in controlled doses within the framework of a regulated system overseen by licensed clinicians and therapists.

If passed, the measure would give the Oregon Health Authority the mandate “to set up all licensing, training, certification, and ongoing education requirements for psilocybin service centers and facilitators during a mandated two-year development process.”

Only those holding licenses would be allowed to “provide psilocybin therapy, cultivate psilocybin, or own a psilocybin service center.”

A growing body of research has shown the benefits of magic mushrooms, organizers pointed out.

“Pioneering research at institutions like Johns Hopkins, NYU, and UCLA has shown the significant promise of psilocybin therapy especially for people whose depression or anxiety hasn’t responded to other available treatments,” campaigners said in a press release Monday.

According to IP 34’s website, psilocybin “is uniquely effective in treating depression, end-of-life anxiety, and addiction. A recent study from NYU showed that psilocybin therapy reduced depression and anxiety with cancer patients with 80 percent of patients, with few side effects. More studies have followed and medical psilocybin is on track to get FDA approval in the coming years.”

Advocates note that psilocybin has shown great promise in a range of psychotherapeutic settings, shattering the old stereotype of psilocybin as some intoxicating and hallucination-inducing party drug that drives its users insane – a reputation that largely grew out of the hippie counterculture of the 1960s when they were widely known as “psychedelic” or “magic” mushrooms.

“Taking a close look at psilocybin within a therapeutic context revealed that it’s working at a cellular level to assist people suffering from treatment-resistant depression,” said Portland-based anesthesiologist and medical cannabis expert Dr. Janice Knox.

“With the current opioid epidemic creating more problems than it’s solving, and research showing psilocybin therapy has breakthrough results, I welcome psilocybin as a new treatment option,” Knox added. “Oregonians are suffering enough, let’s give them new tools like psilocybin that really work.”

Recent studies have also shown how a microdose of psilocybin—far from the level needed for a full-blown trip—actually increases the creativity and empathy of participants.

Other researchers have also found that psilocybin has provided effective help to patients struggling to quit other addictive substances such as cigarettes.

“Psilocybin works differently than pharmaceuticals, which need to be taken daily and often come with an array of adverse side effects,” organizers said. “Research shows that psilocybin therapy is effective and has an excellent safety track record. In just a few psilocybin sessions with a trained facilitator, patients have found lasting relief from various forms of depression and anxiety.”

The campaign for the ballot measure has been pushed by Sheri and Tom Eckert, two counselors who founded the Oregon Psilocybin Society in 2016.  The coupe envisions a full suite of “Psilocybin Services” that it hopes to offer to patients in the future.

If Oregon passes the ballot measure, it would become the first state to allow for the legal cultivation and sale of the substance. Last May, Denver, Colorado, became the first city to decriminalize mushrooms. The move was followed by Oakland, California, in June 2019 and Santa Cruz, California, in January 2020.

Psilocybin mushrooms are currently considered a Schedule 1 narcotic by the Drug Enforcement Agency.

However, psilocybin – the main chemical component of the mushrooms – was designated as a “breakthrough therapy” by the FDA in 2019 due to the positive results of psilocybin in treating depression, anxiety, addiction, and other mental health problems.

Health

Biden to Ban Menthol Cigarettes, Citing Health Impact on Youth and Black People

Elias Marat

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The Biden administration is reportedly planning to propose an immediate ban on menthol cigarettes, a product that has long been targeted by anti-smoking advocates and critics who claim that the tobacco industry has aggressively marketed to Black people in the U.S.

On Wednesday, the Washington Post reported that the administration could announce a ban on menthol and other flavored cigarettes as soon as this week.

Roughly 85 percent of Black smokers use such menthol brands as Newport and Kool, according to the Food and Drug Administration. Research has also found that menthol cigarettes are easier to become addicted to and harder to quit than unflavored tobacco products, along with other small cigars popular with young people and African Americans.

Civil rights advocates claim that the decision should be greeted by Black communities and people of color who have been marketed to by what they describe as the predatory tobacco industry.

Black smokers generally smoke far less than white smokers, but suffer a disproportionate amount of deaths due to tobacco-linked diseases like heart attack, stroke, and other causes.

Anti-smoking advocates like Matthew L. Myers, president of Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, also greeted the move to cut out products that appeal to children and young adults.

“Menthol cigarettes are the No. 1 cause of youth smoking in the United States,” he said. “Eliminating menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars used by so many kids will do more in the long run to reduce tobacco-related disease than any action the federal government has ever taken.”

However, groups including the American Civil Liberties Group (ACLU) has opposed the move, citing the likelihood that such an action could lead to criminal penalties arising from the enforcement of a ban hitting communities of color hardest.

In a letter to administration officials, the ACLU and other groups including the Drug Policy Alliance said that while the ban is “no doubt well-intentioned” it would also have “serious racial justice implications.”

“Such a ban will trigger criminal penalties, which will disproportionately impact people of color, as well as prioritize criminalization over public health and harm reduction,” the letter explained. “A ban will also lead to unconstitutional policing and other negative interactions with local law enforcement.”

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Environment

Pollution Is Making Human Penises Shrink and Causing a Collapse of Fertility, Scientists Say

Elias Marat

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With many still scoffing at the idea of rampant pollution posing a threat to humanity, a new study could drastically change the conversation: the chemicals across our environment could be the cause of shrinking human penises.

According to a new book by Dr. Shanna H. Swan, conditions in the modern world are quickly altering the reproductive development of humans and posing a threat to our future as a species.

The argument is laid out in her new book Count Down: How Our Modern World Is Threatening Sperm Counts, Altering Male and Female Reproductive Development, and Imperiling the Future of the Human Race.

The book discusses how pollution is not only leading to skyrocketing erectile dysfunction rates and fertility decline, but also an expansion in the number of babies born with small penises.

While it may seem like good fodder for jokes, the research could portend a grim future for humanity’s ability to survive.

Swan co-authored a study in 2017 that found sperm counts had precipitously fallen in Western countries by 59 percent between 1973 and 2011. In her latest book, Swan blames chemicals for this crisis in the making.

“Chemicals in our environment and unhealthy lifestyle practices in our modern world are disrupting our hormonal balance, causing various degrees of reproductive havoc,” she wrote in the new book.

“In some parts of the world, the average twentysomething woman today is less fertile than her grandmother was at 35,” she also wrote, noting that men could have only half the sperm count of their grandfathers.

Swan blames the disruption on phthalates, the chemicals used in plastic manufacturing that also have an impact on how the crucial hormone endocrine is produced

However, experts note that the proper implementation of pollution reduction measures could help humanity prevent the collapse of human fertility.

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Health

Visualizing The World’s Deadliest Pandemics By Population Impact

Elijah Cohen

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Humanity has been battling against disease for centuries.

And while most contagious outbreaks have never reached full-blown pandemic status, Visual Capitalist’s Carmen Ang notes that there have been several times throughout history when a disease has caused mass devastation.

Here’s a look at the world’s deadliest pandemics to date, viewed from the lens of the impact they had on the global population at the time.

Editor’s note: The above graphic was created in response to a popular request from users after viewing our popular history of pandemics infographic initially released a year ago.

Death Toll, by Percent of Population

In the mid-1300s, a plague known as the Black Death claimed the lives of roughly 200 million people – more than 50% of the global population at that time.

Here’s how the death toll by population stacks up for other significant pandemics, including COVID-19 so far.

The specific cause of the Black Death is still up for debate. Many experts claim the 14th-century pandemic was caused by a bubonic plague, meaning there was no human-to-human transmission, while others argue it was possibly pneumonic.

Interestingly, the plague still exists today – however, it’s significantly less deadly, thanks to modern antibiotics.

History Repeats, But at Least We Keep Learning

While we clearly haven’t eradicated infection diseases from our lives entirely, we’ve at least come a long way in our understanding of what causes illness in the first place.

In ancient times, people believed gods and spirits caused diseases and widespread destruction. But by the 19th century, a scientist named Louis Pasteur (based on findings by Robert Koch) discovered germ theory – the idea that small organisms caused disease.

What will we discover next, and how will it impact our response to disease in the future?

Like this? Check out the full-length article The History of Pandemics

Republished from ZH with permission.

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