Drama surrounding Oregon mushroom legalization campaign causes organizers 'headaches'

Drama surrounding Oregon mushroom legalization campaign causes organizers 'headaches'

VicesDecember 20, 2018 By Reilly Capps

Though shrooms first became famous among hippies in the Sixties, it's not all peace, love and understanding in the mushroom legalization efforts.  

In Oregon, where a ballot initiative for 2020 is in the works, there's turmoil.

The Psilocybin Service Initiative would free psychedelic mushrooms from the grips of the War on Drugs and legalize mushroom therapy — basically, tripping with a guide. It's getting nationwide attention.

But the organizers, Tom and Sheri Eckert, say that a group claiming to be helping them is actually making their lives, and their mushroom legalization effort, more difficult.

The group is called ShroomPac. Rooster wrote about ShroomPac this fall. In that article, we wrote how ShroomPac had raised more than $10,000, and that they were supporting the Psilocybin Service Initiative. 

The Rooster article floated to the top of some Facebook feeds in November. Which was when the Psilocybin Service Initiative took to social media to bring attention to the fact that, since ShroomPac formed, they have sent basically no money to the Psilocybin Service Initiative. 

ShroomPac's leader, Chris Abrahamsen, affirmed to Rooster that, though they've collected more than $10,000 in donations, they've now sent only $300 to the Psilocybin Service Initiative. ShroomPac spent the rest of the money on paying canvassers, paying for an office space, printing up t-shirts, and so on, ShroomPac said. ShroomPac has helped the campaign by having more than 10,000 conversations on the street, raising awareness for the issue.

ShroomPac is on the street "sowing confusion," Tom Eckert emailed Rooster, by making donors think they're supporting the initiative, when in fact they're just supporting ShroomPac.

Abrahamsen said they're planning to give more money later.

The Eckerts note that they're working for free. (So are all the volunteers on a Denver campaign which, if it can round up enough signatures, could allow Denverites to vote on decriminalizing mushroom in May.)

photo illustration - Oregon mushrooms

What's more, Abrahamsen went to the Oregon secretary of state to report that the Psilocybin Service Initiative had failed to report some small expenditures, on the order of a couple hundred dollars.

The Eckerts say they're corrected a small reporting oversight.

"It's causing us headaches," Eckert said. "He's telling the public that we're under investigation when we're not."

Abrahamsen claims that he reported the Psilocybin Service Initiative to the secretary of state because he was trying to help the Initiative out, so they could correct this small failure to report expenses, so that they wouldn't get in more trouble later.

Tom Eckert isn't buying it.

"Why is a supposedly supportive organization combing through the campaign’s transparent online financial records just to look for something…. anything… to file a complaint about?" the initiative organizers asked in a Facebook post.

"What's important to me is the integrity of the campaign and the people who part with their hard earned money to support it," Eckert told Rooster. "Chris is creating a situation where people could be easily confused, while actively undermining the campaign."

The Psilocybin Service Initiative continues to plow forward, Eckert says, and now has more than 200 volunteers. They're on the verge of starting to collect the more than 112,200 valid signatures due by July 2020. They're looking for more volunteers — unpaid.

ShroomPac, too, says they're continuing to work for mushroom legalization, and they'll be on the street corner, raising awareness and collecting donations.

[Cover photo: liberty cap mushrooms, from Pretty Drug Things on Unsplash.]