Grassroots Psychedelic Policy Reform: A Call to Unity

Unity is the great epiphany of the psychedelic experience, and it’s the ethos of a growing movement. For a first wave of psychedelic policy reformers, unity isn’t conformity, but rather a sense of respect and support for a diversity of projects and intentions. Unity, in this nascent space, comes in recognition of the extended vision, a whole that adds up to more than its parts.

With varied interests, we—the reform movement—take our trajectories. But we ought not lose sight of a unifying horizon. The history of psychedelic policy reform, as it comes to pass, will reveal a singular movement. As we progress, there will be less emphasis on a medicalization movement, a therapeutic movement, a decriminalization movement. There will be one psychedelic movement, holding within it our interdependent projects, our different areas of work. Knowing this, we naturally respect and support the varied vectors of the movement and the people involved, as we all participate in a bigger construction.

Right now, there are four interlocking agendas. Within each, we find dedicated people committing time and energy to creating real change. One project within the movement is to realize FDA approved, prescription-based psychedelic assisted therapy. Success here would represent an epic breakthrough, decades in the making. It’s a chance, on a national level, to advance psychiatry and influence our overall approach to mental health. We have every reason to support the psychedelic renaissance which continues to advance within the medical establishment.

The vision broadens with added layers of reform. The statewide ballot initiative in Oregon would create a more inclusive regulatory framework. Anyone who might safely benefit could access psilocybin therapy in licensed settings, without the requirement of a medical diagnosis. Side by side, the FDA tract and the Oregon model are complementary, combining to cast a wide net, while preserving the kind of science-based safety and practice standards that many people desire.

Meanwhile, also in Oregon, we see a statewide initiative that would boldly expand access to addiction services while advancing broad-based decriminalization of all drugs (including psychedelics), similar to Portugal’s successful reforms. This initiative (IP 44) dovetails with the psychedelic therapy agenda (IP 34), while addressing enormous social issues, like mass incarceration and systemic racism, that reach far beyond the psychedelic frame. A critical mass of support has developed to address drug use and addictions through a public health approach instead of treating it as a criminal problem. In Oregon, the 2020 ballot will include separate choices to allow statewide psilocybin assisted therapy and broad-based decriminalization. The desired outcome, of course, is “yes” on both.

Finally, an agenda to decriminalize plant-based psychedelics continues to spread. These efforts, effective at the city level, aim to remove any remaining limits on personal possession of psychedelics, thereby restoring an individual’s right to enhance his or her well-being through home and/or ceremonial use, without fear of arrest and prosecution. The emphasis here is on cognitive liberty, accessibility, and public education.

These important decriminalization efforts, whether state or city-wide, broad-based or narrowly focused, will naturally and successfully coexist with regulated psychedelic therapy frameworks. For those in search of psychedelic healing, it should be a matter of comfort and choice; all options of responsible use should be allowed. With dedicated activism, they will be.

The point here is that all reform pathways are cohesive. Taken together, they present a comprehensive set of solutions and liberties. Success in one area in no way detracts from another; rather the opposite is true. Again, with psychedelic policy reform, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. It’s this message which best serves the movement and best serves the public.

Every project in the movement—medicalization, therapeutic regulation, and decriminalization—has the potential to save lives and shift consciousness. Different options are right for different folks, and all of them should advance. Each category deserves our support, and, in the end, we will thrive together. Our activism flows into a unified horizon, which is our greatest strength and truest narrative.

We stand committed to recognizing unity within this rapidly evolving and intensifying psychedelic policy reform movement. If you agree with this message, please consider sharing it with your respective networks. Together, we can light the way.

Author Profile

Tom and Sheri Eckert

Residing in Portland, Oregon, Tom and Sheri Eckert are seasoned psychotherapists, founders of the Oregon Psilocybin Society, and architects of the Psilocybin Service Initiative of Oregon (Yes on 109), a statewide ballot initiative campaign to legalize psilocybin-assisted therapy.

See all stories by Tom and Sheri Eckert