Oregon parks ponder what drug laws mean for mushroom foragers

Oregon

Neither of Oregon's new drug measures have taken effect yet

CLACKAMAS COUNTY, Ore. (KOIN) — Fall is a popular time for mushroom foraging in Oregon’s forests, but now officials are trying to figure out what two recently-passed drug measures mean for state parks where visitors might find psychedelic mushrooms.

Voters approved Measure 109 earlier this month, which legalizes the use of psilocybin — a psychoactive compound found in so-called “magic” mushrooms — in therapeutic settings. Measure 110 also passed, and reduces the punishment for personal possession of any drug to a $100 fine, which can be waived if the subject completes a health evaluation. It takes effect Feb. 1, 2020.

“We are concerned that people will misunderstand what’s happened with the ballot measures and think it’s open season on mushrooms that have psilocybin in them, and that is very definitely not the case,” Oregon Parks and Recreation Department spokesperson Chris Havel told KOIN 6 News.

The department recently reached out to the Oregon Health Authority for guidance as the measures move forward. The OHA is tasked with developing licensing requirements and other regulations for psilocybin therapy over the next two years.

While OPRD doesn’t usually enforce criminal statutes — that’s left to sheriff’s offices or police departments — Havel said they do want to make sure they’re giving visitors accurate information.

“You’d be subject to felony arrest if you go out and intentionally gather psychedelic mushrooms before these measures passed,” Havel said. “We just want to make sure we understand what enforcement is going to be doing.”

Once they hear back from the OHA, Havel said the parks department will update signs, brochures and other materials with the new information.

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Mushroom foraging has steadily gained popularity over the years, but it’s not without risks. Havel worries the hype surrounding Oregon’s new drug laws might prompt otherwise-untrained people to go looking for psychedelic mushrooms and accidentally harm themselves in the process.

“You have to know exactly what you’re picking, what its uses are, how to enjoy it without endangering yourself as well as how to avoid taking risks in the outdoors in some of these more remote areas,” he said.

Even experienced mushroom pickers get lost in the wilderness, so Havel advises prospective hobbyists to seek out information and other enthusiasts online to learn the tricks of the trade. Commercial mushroom picking is prohibited on state land; foragers are limited to one gallon bucket of mushrooms per day.

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