What We're Doing
Our mission: Decriminalize fungi and plant medicines for home growing, group healing, and ceremonial and religious purposes. Working initially in Portland, in partnership with indigenous stakeholders among others, we aim to enact this policy while promoting sustainable sourcing and honoring, in mutual reciprocity of care, the human, plant and animal ecologies where the medicines grow. Working initially in Portland, in partnership with indigenous stakeholders among others, we aim to enact this policy while promoting sustainable sourcing and honoring, in mutual reciprocity of care, the human, plant and animal ecologies where the medicines grow. Read our proposed ordinance for Portland City Council here.
Our effort is complementary to the psilocybin therapeutic model championed by Measure 109, as well as the “treatment not jail” decriminalization policy championed by Measure 110. We are also in alliance with the Indigenous Peyote Conservation Initiative, the Indigenous Plant Medicine Fund and Chacruna’s Indigenous Reciprocity Initiative.
Medicinal plants and fungi, also known as entheogens, are non-addictive and when used in safe and supportive environments often provide participants with transformative, spiritual, healing experiences. While those medicines have been used by indigenous communities for thousands of years, interest in entheogens has recently reemerged in western cultures because of their therapeutic and spiritual potential.
Measures 109 and 110 created a psilocybin therapy program and decriminalized all psychoactive substances, respectively, including fungi and plant medicines, but not in quantities sufficient for ceremony and group healing. 109 enables the development of a regulated and licensed therapeutic program that will be available for adults that may benefit, and equity and access will be built into the core to the program. However, licensed therapeutic approaches are not the only way that people and groups heal. We believe it is crucial that people have the right to grow their own psilocybin mushrooms at home, so they can also access the healing power of that medicine in healing community circles and otherwise.
In addition to psilocybin mushrooms, ayahuasca, also known as yajé, is another entheogen that has gained widespread attention. The Heroic Hearts Project helps traumatized veterans heal together in community with ayahuasca. Ayahuasca is an Amazonian brew composed of two medicinal plants with spiritual and healing potential when consumed in ceremonial contexts with the right intention, facilitation and integration. Scientific studies show benefits of Ayahuasca for people struggling with trauma and substance use problems which is important given the admirable and compassionate “treatment not jail” policy Oregon is taking to drug addiction.
There are already several religious groups and churches in Oregon and the US that work responsibly with ayahuasca, often informed and within a traditional indigenous lineage. Two such churches, Santo Daime and UDV, currently enjoy federal recognition, but due to drug war hysteria and overly burdensome obstructionist tactics at DEA, most others do not. We recognize that many of those religious / spiritual groups work with more than one plant medicine in their ceremonies.
We also recognize the lack of racial minority representation among the leadership of ayahuasca underground religious groups in Oregon, despite ayahuasca’s origin in indigenous communities of South America. Possibly due to concerns about police brutality and racial profiling in law enforcement, people of color may understandably be discouraged to take leadership roles, or keep a low profile about their groups, out of concern about being targets of policing. We hope that BIPOC communities will feel safer and supported with the policy change decriminalizing sacramental and therapeutic use of medicinal plants and fungi.
Sadly, there are also issues of sustainable sourcing of medicine that simply decriminalizing plant medicines can exacerbate. Many areas of the Amazon are being stripped of ayahuasca vines, and seekers and facilitators should make sure they know the source and practices involved in harvesting and producing the medicine they work with. Peyote, a mescaline containing cacti that is the main medicine of Native Americans, is in a state of collapse. Iboga, a powerful healing medicine from the root bark of a shrub that grows in central Africa, is also endangered.
In solidarity with the Native American Church and the Indigenous Peyote Conservation Initiative, given the dire state of the peyote gardens in southern Texas, and the long time to mature in cultivation, we do not propose decriminalizing peyote. We recommend non-indigenous folks utilize San Pedro or other mescaline-containing cacti. Also given that the population of Sonoran Desert toad is threatened with extinction, we are not decriminalizing 5-MEO DMT that is derived by milking their glands. Synthetic 5-MEO DMT has already been decriminalized in personal amounts under Oregon law and should be used safely and carefully with intention and guidance by seekers instead. Finally, while we are decriminalizing iboga and natural extracts thereof, which can be produced sustainably in greenhouses and various plantations around the world, including in Gabon, most comes from poachers overharvesting wild iboga in Gabon: we encourage people in the throes of addiction to opiates or other substances, to use semi-synthetic ibogaine from voacanga instead.
The Plant Medicine Healing Alliance supports the Indigenous Plant Medicine Fund and Chacruna’s Indigenous Reciprocity Initiative. You can learn how to support indigenous led biocultural preservation projects by visiting the respective websites. The Indigenous Plant Medicine Fund will also be publishing a user’s guide to sustainable sourcing of medicine.
Entheogens are powerful medicines that should be approached with care and respect. Individuals with a history of psychosis, schizophrenia, or bipolar disorders are contra-indicated and should avoid entheogens. If you are experiencing medical issues, mental health challenges, and/or taking prescribed medications, we advise you to consult with your medical professional beforehand. It is also recommended to start with lower amounts and with a trusted sitter or guide as entheogens can heighten sensations, perceptions, and emotions which may provoke anxiety. A sitter can provide comfort and emotional support as well as practical assistance if needed, ensuring the quality and safety of your experience.
Below are links to resources for safe and responsible use of medicinal plants and fungi. They include specific resources for BIPOC and LGBTQ individuals as well as information for proper preparation which is associated with reduced risks and positive outcomes. Lastly, we want to highlight the world’s first psychedelic hotline, Fireside, which provides real time psychedelic peer support over the phone, before, during and after a journey.
Resources for seekers, sitters and guides:
- Sacred Garden’s Guide to Finding the Right Facilitator
- Entheoguide’s Guidelines for Voyagers and Guides
- The Council for Spiritual Practices’ Code of Ethics for Spiritual Guides
- Bia Labate’s Compilation of Further Resources
- Fireside (1-623-473-7433 or 62-Fireside)
- People of Color Psychedelic Collective
- Chacruna’s LBGTQ Resource Page
- Portland Psychedelic Society
- Oregon Psilocybin Society