Oregon voters passed a ballot measure Tuesday that would establish a legal psilocybin (“magic mushrooms”) administration program, while South Dakota and Mississippi became the latest states voting to legalize medical cannabis. Voters in several other states also approved initiatives to legalize recreational marijuana, and a measure in the District of Columbia passed that would decriminalize psilocybin and certain other psychedelic agents.
While the broad and immediate impact of these measures on the medical community remains largely unclear, some experts cited them in urging providers to expand their minds more.
Oregon became the first state to legalize psilocybin — or any psychedelic — for its citizens to consume. The state voted 55.8%-44.2%, as of Wednesday afternoon, to craft a program allowing it to be administered in some form of therapeutic setting to adults 21 and older, with details to be ironed out over the next 2 years. There will not be a dispensary system, however, like those in many states for medical cannabis.
Oregon has only decided to create a program, cautioned Matthew Johnson, PhD, associate director for the Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. So it is too soon to know how people may get the psilocybin or how precisely medical professionals could be involved.
The program could include therapeutic use and treatment for some disorders, Johnson said. Assuming it unfolds as he expects, including coordination with federal authorities, Johnson predicts medical professionals will be needed during patient sessions to respond to potential emergencies and conduct follow-up care.
“The practice of medicine is something that needs to be regulated,” Johnson said. “The concern is if it’s not done right and could cause public harm. …It needs to be supervised.”
Psilocybin is under investigation, Johnson added, with one trial in phase III and other clinical trials underway, and some observational studies completed. But it is not an FDA-approved medicine.
As it happens, JAMA Psychiatry on Wednesday published a randomized trial, with Johnson among the authors, indicating that synthetic psilocybin was effective in major depression.
If Oregon’s program mirrors the results Johnson has seen in his own and other clinical research, “I think it does have a chance of helping patients, with an acceptable level of risk.”
The American Psychiatric Association and Oregon Medical Association both opposed the Oregon measure.
Johnson expects the state’s decision to lead other states to adopt similar measures. Efforts to decriminalize psychedelics — such as in D.C. — are still more popular then initiatives to legalize and foster use.
With South Dakota and Mississippi now on board, 36 states have now approved or implemented medical cannabis programs. Also this week, South Dakota, New Jersey, Arizona and Montana approved recreational marijuana — making South Dakota the first state ever to simultaneously approve medicinal and recreational cannabis. And a separate measure passed in Oregon that would decriminalize all currently illicit drugs including heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine.)
Experts cautioned healthcare workers in South Dakota and Mississippi to be prepared for patients’ questions about cannabis,
On MSNBC’s election night coverage Tuesday night, political analyst and Democratic strategist James Carville was full of optimism as he reassured the Democratic party that, despite President Donald Trump leading in many battleground states, everything was “going to be fine.”
“Every Democrat, just put the razor blades and the Ambien back in the medicine cabinet. We’re going to be fine,” stated Carville.
Carville went on saying that “Pennsylvania looks really good, we’re going to be fine in Wisconsin, I think a big surprise here is Georgia.”
Similar to Carville’s statement, former Vice President and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden made a statement after midnight saying, “we’re going to win this,” as it became clear that the presidential race was too close to call late Tuesday night. While the nation went to bed preparing to wait it out, possibly until Friday, Carville continued to express his optimism.
“I hoped that we would know earlier than we did. I think we’re going to be just fine. I’m very optimistic,” stated Carville. He continued, “People are rerunning the numbers, and we just have to hang in there, and we’re going to win this thing. I promise you. But just, you know, stay up the night, watch the returns. We’re doing a good job.”
“I do not have defeat on my mind. I have really good reasons to think that we’re going to be fine. I’ve talked to a lot of people tonight. It might take a little bit longer than we wanted, but everybody just hang in there. America’s coming back and I feel good about where we are,” assured Carville.
Finally, Carville told MSNBC’s Brian Williams and Rachel Maddow, “I’ve waited four years for this. I can wait another four days.”
MSNBC’s election night coverage aired Tuesday, November 3rd at 7 p.m. on MSNBC.
Watch CNN’s panel exploding after Trump makes unfounded claims about mail-in ballots in Pennsylvania:
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Arizona’s ballot measure to legalize marijuana passed Tuesday with voters deciding to join 11 other states that have done so despite a conflict with federal law, according to The Associated Press.
Proposition 207 would legalize possession of as much as an ounce of marijuana for adults 21 and older and set up a licensing system for retail sales of the drug, starting with the medical-marijuana dispensaries already operating in the state. Sales could begin in March under the measure.
Once the election results are made official Nov. 30, possession and growing as many as six plants at home will be legal for adults.
The measure also would allow people previously convicted of marijuana crimes, such as the felony charge for possession, to have their records expunged by the courts.
And it would establish special “social equity” licenses for communities historically disenfranchised by marijuana laws.
SEE THE WINNERS: Arizona election results
The Department of Health Services would be responsible for determining who is eligible to apply for those social equity licenses, and would also be responsible for developing rules for the program and reviewing applications from medical dispensaries.
The approximately 120 medical-marijuana dispensaries operating in the state today, which have provided nearly all of the funding for Proposition 207, would be allowed to sell the drug to anyone over 21, not just people who have a doctor’s recommendation and state-issued medical-marijuana card.
Dispensaries are anticipating a crush of new business. The Mint Dispensaries, for example, are prepared to expedite the construction of a new, $25 million, 100,000-square-foot growing operation in north Phoenix to keep their Guadalupe and Mesa retail sites stocked if Proposition 207 passes.
The Mint also already has approval from Mesa to expand its dispensary there as well, and can add additional registers in the Guadalupe store beyond the 21 in the store now, said Raúl Molina, a partner and senior vice president of operations.
“We think we’re ready for it,” Molina said before Election Day.
Company officials do not want to run out of marijuana for medical patients or be left with no supply for recreational customers, which has happened in other states that transitioned from medical to recreational sales.
A similar measure also passed in New Jersey on Tuesday, according to the Associated Press, while recreational-marijuana initiatives were leading in early results in Montana and South Dakota as well.
Backers, opponents react to election
Attorney Adam Trenk, director of the Cannabis Department at the Rose Law Group, said nearly all medical dispensaries are expected to apply to sell recreational marijuana.
“I can’t imagine a world where they wouldn’t because they immediately expand the demographic of people who can walk into the store from just those with (medical-marijuana) cards to anyone over the age of 21,” Trenk said.
He also said his firm would help clients, including some through pro bono work, to expunge criminal records for marijuana-related crimes as allowed through the measure.
“We will, through community law centers, work to help those who qualify to get
Uber Technologies Inc.,
and DoorDash Inc. won a pivotal vote in California that exempts them from having to reclassify their drivers as employees, according to Associated Press race calls.
The companies, along with Postmates Inc. and Instacart Inc., collectively contributed around $200 million to support Proposition 22, a measure that allows them to bypass a state law intended to provide employee-like protections for their drivers. The campaign was the most expensive for any ballot measure in state history. With more than 60% of ballots counted, the vote was running 58% in favor of the measure and 42% against, prompting the Associated Press to project it would pass.
The outcome deals a blow to the state government, which has been embroiled in a high-stakes battle with the companies over the reclassification. A law passed last year sought to force ride-share and food-delivery companies to reclassify their drivers as employees, eligible for benefits such as minimum wage, paid sick leave and unemployment assistance.
The app companies’ business models are predicated on “gig workers”—independent contractors—to keep labor costs low.
None of the companies reclassified workers after the law went into effect on Jan. 1. Instead, they combined forces to support the ballot measure. The state sued in May to enforce the statute, litigation that will be superseded by the successful election outcome.
The stakes were high for the companies: A reclassification would have weighed on their already-red bottom lines and set a precedent for other U.S. states challenging their business model.
In recent months, the ride-share and delivery companies blasted ads and push notifications to drivers, saying only a fraction of them would be hired as employees. Fewer drivers would mean longer wait times, they said in messages to customers, and prices would rise because of higher costs associated with the reclassification. Uber Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahiestimated that prices for rides could double if the ballot measure failed.
The California law at the heart of the dispute didn’t restrict flexible work; lawmakers say the companies were free to structure a model where benefits and flexibility went hand-in-hand.
The companies argued it was unrealistic to extend employee-like benefits to many drivers who worked for them just a few hours a week. They also said the reclassification would force drivers to work pre-scheduled shifts, robbing them of the freedom they currently enjoy. More than half a dozen drivers interviewed said they planned to vote in the companies’ favor because that messaging resonated with them.
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To make their ballot measure more palatable, the companies said that if it passed they would guarantee some new protections, including health insurance for drivers who work
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — California voters have rejected a ballot measure to require a doctor or highly trained nurse at each of California’s 600 dialysis clinics.
With more than 9 million votes tallied Tuesday, Proposition 23 had just 37% of votes. It is the second measure seeking to regulate dialysis clinics placed on the ballot in recent years by unions that represent health care workers and drew more than $110 million in spending.… Read More
As voters head to the polls on Election Day, one American is contracting the coronavirus every second
Then, apparently spooked by a projection showing that 2.2 million people could be dead by late summer if no action were taken, Trump listened to the government’s infectious-disease experts, such as Anthony S. Fauci and Deborah Birx. He endorsed a broad shutdown of businesses and personal interactions in an effort to halt the person-to-person spread of the virus, a move that slammed the economy but also slowed the rate of infections.
In short order, though, Trump’s concern shifted from the number of infections to the economic damage being done. This was an election year after all, so his rhetoric again shifted. The country could get back to normal in short order, he insisted, perhaps even by Easter! When that obviously impossible deadline came and went, he and the government’s experts unveiled a set of benchmarks that states could use to scale back containment efforts. But Trump promptly ignored those benchmarks, encouraging states to simply roll back measures aimed at slowing the virus’s spread in favor of a resumption of normal activity.
“The cure cannot be worse than the problem itself,” he would say repeatedly — but the cure was never even close to being as bad as the virus’s toll in illness, the economic harm of uncontrolled spread and deaths.
We’ve been in this third phase of Trump’s since April. His approach to dismissing the virus has at times shifted, but the rhetoric has been consistent. The virus is just this thing that will crop up at times and that we have to deal with. He would often claim that there would simply be “flare-ups” of the virus, which his administration was ready to quickly stamp out. It wasn’t. He would say that his administration was focused on protecting those most at risk, like the residents of nursing homes. It didn’t.
From the get-go, Trump seems to have been betting on the emergence of a silver bullet. Maybe warm weather would stamp out the virus, as he said Chinese President Xi Jinping told him. Maybe scientists would develop an effective, inexpensive treatment such as hydroxychloroquine or convalescent plasma or regeneron, which could be touted as a cure. Maybe his push for the rapid development of a vaccine for the virus would allow — as he and his team predicted — for a broad inoculation program to go into effect this year. No such luck.
Eventually, he seems to have given up. While some experts, notably Fauci and Birx and Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, offered warnings about what was to come (100,000 cases a day; a bleak fall and winter), Trump dismissed such grim tidings. He preferred what Scott Atlas was saying in interviews on Fox News, so he added Atlas to his coronavirus response team, where the neuroradiologist pushed for letting the pandemic burn.
So it has. On Monday, the country hit a new high in the seven-day average of new cases, nearing 85,000. To put it in a grim context: There is
By OLGA R. RODRIGUEZ, Associated Press
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — California voters are deciding whether to require a doctor or highly trained nurse at each of the state’s 600 dialysis clinics whenever patients are being treated to improve patient care.
Proposition 23 was placed on the ballot by unions that represent health care workers and has attracted more than $110 million in political spending to persuade voters.
Opponents, financed by dialysis clinic companies, say that under that mandate, between two and three doctors would be required at every facility because most are open at least 16 hours a day, creating a financial burden that could lead some clinics to close.
Proposition 23 is the second attempt by the unions to increase regulation of dialysis clinics in California, where DaVita Inc. and Fresenius Medical Care — two of the country’s largest for-profit dialysis providers — operate about three-quarters of the state’s dialysis market.
In 2018, a separate initiative sought to cap dialysis clinics’ profits and force them to invest more of their profits in patient care. Voters rejected the measure, which became the most expensive initiative on the 2018 ballot and one of the most expensive in history, generating more than $130 million in campaign spending: $111 million from dialysis companies and $19 million from unions.
This time around, unions have raised nearly $9 million, while the coalition against Proposition 23 — led by DaVita and Fresenius, along with the California Medical Association and American Nurses Association-California — has raised more than $105 million.
The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office estimates dialysis companies make roughly $3 billion a year from their California operations.
Dialysis providers say most California clinics offer high-quality care and are regulated by federal and state authorities. They also point out that all patients already have a nephrologist — a kidney specialist who oversees their care — and that nephrologists direct each California clinic. Both initiatives have been part of a tactic to pressure dialysis companies to unionize workers.
Dialysis patients typically undergo four-hour treatments at least three times a week, during which machines remove the blood in the patient’s body, filter toxins out, then put the blood back in, temporarily performing the functions of the kidneys.
Rick Barnett, who runs the largest nonprofit dialysis provider in California, Satellite Healthcare, with 60 clinics, said a kidney specialist oversees the care of every dialysis patient, highly trained nurses and technicians staff the clinics and both federal and state officials conduct scheduled and random inspections.
“This is not about quality of care so, my question is, what problem are they trying to solve?” Barnett asked.
Find AP’s full election coverage at APNews.com/Election2020.
Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The future of California’s first-of-its-kind stem cell research program is in the hands of voters, who will decide whether it deserves a $5.5 billion infusion of borrowed bond money to keep functioning.
A yes vote on Proposition 14 on Tuesday’s ballot would approve such a bond sale, bailing out the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, which was created by a similar $3 billion bond measure in 2014 but is now nearly broke.… Read More
Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks during a House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis hearing in Washington, D.C.
Erin Scot | Pool | Reuters
American voters overwhelmingly approve of how the country’s top infectious diseases expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, is handling the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new CNBC/Change Research poll.
President Donald Trump gets much worse reviews.
Nationwide, 72% of likely voters said they approve of the job Fauci is doing in handling the outbreak and only 28% disapprove, the poll found. At the same time, only 41% of respondents said they approve of how Trump is managing the virus, versus 59% who disapprove.
In six battleground states, 66% of voters answered that they approve of how Fauci is handling Covid-19, versus 34% who disapprove. For Trump, 46% of swing-state respondents said they approve of how he is managing the outbreak, while 54% said they disapprove.
The poll findings came Monday, hours after the president suggested he could fire the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director following Tuesday’s presidential election. Fauci has warned of a brutal winter looming as coronavirus cases spike around the U.S.
Trump has downplayed the outbreak, which has led to more than 230,000 American deaths as he tries to win a second term in the White House. At a campaign rally in Florida early Monday, the president signaled he could try to dismiss the infectious diseases expert during a rampaging pandemic.
Supporters gathered at the event chanted, “Fire Fauci!” The president responded, “Don’t tell anybody, but let me wait until a little bit after the election.”
Trump’s presidential election rival, Democrat Joe Biden, aimed to leverage Fauci’s popularity during his final string of campaign stops. During remarks in Cleveland on Monday, he criticized Trump for threatening to oust one of the faces of the government’s virus response.
“I’ve got a better idea: Let’s keep Dr. Fauci on the job and fire Donald Trump,” he said.
Trump could face difficulties in trying to directly fire Fauci, a civil servant whose career has spanned decades.
On Sunday, 81,400 new Covid-19 infections were reported, putting the seven-day average for U.S. cases above 81,000. On Friday, Fauci told The Washington Post that “we’re in for a whole lot of hurt” and “could not possibly be positioned more poorly” heading into the winter.
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Oregon could become the first U.S. state to decriminalize possessing hard drugs like heroin, cocaine and LSD in a ballot measure during Tuesday’s election.
If voters pass Measure 110, users found in low-level possession of the substances would have the option of paying $100 fines or attending new, free addiction recovery centers instead of being arrested and facing jail time, The Associated Press reported.
The recovery centers would be funded by tax revenue from retail marijuana sales in the state, which was the country’s first to decriminalize marijuana possession.
Yes on 110, the organization sponsoring the ballot measure, stresses that the act does not legalize any drugs.
“No change is made in the criminal code for delivery, manufacture, and other commercial drug offenses. These offenses will remain a crime,” according to the website. “No change is made for other crimes that may be associated with drug use, such as driving under the influence and theft.”
Approximately one in 10 Oregonians struggle with substance use disorder, according to Yes on 110.
“This measure expands access to treatment and removes unfairly harsh punishments for minor, nonviolent drug offenses, so people with addiction can more easily recover. People will no longer be arrested and put in jail simply for possession of small amounts of drugs. Instead, they will receive a health assessment and be connected to the right treatment or recovery services, including housing assistance, to help them get their lives back on track.”
The ballot measure is backed by the Oregon Nurses Association, the Oregon chapter of the American College of Physicians and the Oregon Academy of Family Physicians.
“Punishing people for drug use and addiction is costly and hasn’t worked. More drug treatment, not punishment, is a better approach,” the groups said in a statement obtained by the outlet.
The Oregon Criminal Justice Commission estimated that convictions for possession of a controlled substance would decrease by 3,679 or 90.7 percent.
“Every hour, police in Oregon arrest someone for drugs – at a time when Oregon has missing children, unsolved murders and a long backlog of cold cases. This measure will free-up police to focus more on what matters,” according to Yes on 110.
Measure 110 is also supported by the Democratic Party of Oregon and several human and civil rights organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union and NAACP Portland.
It is opposed by two dozen district attorneys who argue the measure “recklessly decriminalizes possession of the most dangerous types of drugs (and) will lead to an increase in acceptability of dangerous drugs.”
“This is a terrible idea. It’s disconnected to what’s best for Oregonians. It will lead to increased crime and increased drug use,” Washington County District Attorney Kevin Barton said.
Former Gov. John Kitzhaber (D), a former emergency room physician and the longest-serving governor in Oregon history, also urged voters to reject Measure 110 earlier this month in a blog post.
“I understand that a