What is the Oregon Psilocybin Services Act?

Measure 109 logo with text "We did it!"
Measure 109 logo with text “We did it!”

Here in Oregon we just passed two ballot initiatives that will lead to profound changes for people with mental health and substance use issues, and for people who are seeking healing of all kinds. This is part one of a series of blog posts where I will be discussing these new laws, what they mean for clients and the general public, and what they mean for professionals like me.

Today we will discuss the Oregon Psilocybin Services Act, which was on the ballot as Measure 109. Here is a quick overview of what is changing, and when these changes are going to happen.

What just passed?

The Oregon Psilocybin Services Act will create a semi-legal path for adults in Oregon to experience facilitated psilocybin sessions. I say “semi-legal” because psilocybin will remain federally illegal, so just like with recreational and medical cannabis in Oregon there will be a conflict between state and federal law. We have no idea how the federal government will respond to this Act.

The chief petitioners and campaign purposefully avoid using the word “therapy”, so this is not necessarily “psilocybin-assisted psychedelic psychotherapy” like what is happening in research studies around the world. However, the measure frequently talks about mental health issues including anxiety, depression, PTSD, and substance use disorders. This Act will allow for psilocybin “services”, not “therapy”, but it is designed to help people with mental health or psychiatric issues.

What are these “psilocybin services” going to look like?

Oregon Health Authority will have the final say over what this program looks like and what is and isn’t allowed. The Act does specify a few things:

  • There will be at least one preparation session before the psilocybin journey, and at least one integration session after the journey. The preparation session is mandatory, the integration session must be offered but is optional.
  • Adults only! You have to be 21 to have a journey.
  • You have to take the psilocybin at the service center. No going home, no takeout, no buying extra and giving some to your friend.
  • You have to fill out a client information form before the administration session. Who doesn’t love forms? (I used to be a data scientist. I love forms!)

What specific changes are coming and when?

Here is a timeline of important dates and events:

  • February 28, 2021: The governor creates a Psilocybin Advisory Board. This Board has two years to figure out all the rules and regulations about how this is going to work.
  • June 30, 2022: The Advisory Board will submit its findings and recommendations to Oregon Health Authority.
  • December 31, 2022: Oregon Health Authority will finalize rules and regulations, hopefully but not necessarily influenced by the work of the Advisory Board.
  • January 2, 2023: The state may begin receiving applications for licenses. There will be four types of licenses: psilocybin manufacturers, service center operators, facilitators, and testing psilocybin products.
  • Some time after that: Licensed service centers will open to the public and you can have a psilocybin experience!

OK, that was a lot of dates and figures. What’s an easy-to-digest takeaway?

Be patient! For you, a regular person who would like to have a supervised psilocybin session, nothing changes today. The earliest you will be able to have a guided psilocybin experience is early 2023.

This gives you plenty of time to educate yourself on the history of psilocybin mushrooms and the Mazatec healers who have worked with these mushrooms for centuries, transpersonal psychology, and the importance of set and setting. This also gives you two years to try out different types of integration work, such as meditation, yoga, breathwork, creative expression, journaling, and dreamwork.

Where can I learn more?

I will be writing a series of blog posts diving into all the exciting details of this program as they become available. I’m guessing the campaign website will continue to update or at least point to a new website that will be updated as we learn more. I’m also guessing the Portland Psychedelic Society and Edelic Center for Ethnobotanical Services will continue to be great sources of information in the coming years.

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