PORTLAND, Ore. — The state still has a lot of work to do but it won’t be too long before Oregonians 21 and over will be able to do something almost no one else in the country can do -- take psychedelic mushrooms in a therapeutic setting.
Oregon is the first state in the nation to vote to legalize psilocybin, which researchers believe could help treat depression, PTSD and addiction. And with a year to go before the implementation deadline, the Oregon Health Authority is working to develop a system to administer the psychedelic in therapeutic settings in the state.
According to Measure 109, approved by Oregon voters in November of 2020, the state has until Dec. 31, 2022 to set up the framework that will regulate legal magic mushrooms.
Officials say they are on track to meet that deadline.
The development phase for Measure 109 officially began on Jan. 1, 2021. In March, the Oregon Psilocybin Services Advisory Board, appointed by Gov. Kate Brown, convened for the first time.
Then, in June, OHA brought on Angela Allbee to manage the newly-created Oregon Psilocybin Services Section.
“We are the very first state in the United States to set up a comprehensive regulatory framework for psilocybin services,” Allbee said over the phone Friday. “We’ve got a lot of work to do.”
To do that work, Allbee has been building her team and getting to work.
That team is creating a training program, licensing, and compliance tracking and case management system, establishing a product tracking system, said OHA spokesperson Jonathan Modie, in accordance with Measure 109, as well as developing policy and procedure for the license and compliance programs.
While Allbee acknowledges the state is creating a program from scratch, she said they aren’t without guides.
“Indigenous communities have practiced psilocybin use for centuries,” she said, and the substance is legal in different places around the world.
As it works to create rules, Allbee said, the advisory board has reviewed scientific literature and invited a number of guest speakers with a wide array of information and expertise. They have held listening sessions and currently have a survey open on the section’s website.
“Our board is advisory,” Allbee said, which means they will submit recommendations to OHA.
“We consider those recommendations and we draft rules,” she said.
As they draft those rules, Allbee said, “We’re really focused on the values of equitable access to services and safety.”
“Rulemaking Advisory Committees will be held in February 2022 to discuss draft rules for training programs and products/testing,” Modie said. “OHA plans to adopt rules by June 1, 2022, so the agency can begin accepting applications for training program curriculum approval.”
According to Allbee, the agency will begin the work to complete the remaining rules in September.
Final rules are expected to be adopted by Dec. 31, 2022 so the psilocybin section can start to accept applications for four types of licenses on Jan. 2, 2023 -- licenses for facilitators, manufacturers, testing labs and service centers.
When psilocybin services will be available for Oregonians is less set in stone.
Licensees can begin their work once applications are approved, Modie said.
“This includes licensed manufacturers cultivating psilocybin and producing psilocybin products,” he said, “licensed testing labs testing the psilocybin products, licensed manufacturers selling tested products to licensed service centers, and licensed service centers opening their doors for psilocybin services in collaboration with licensed facilitators who will work with clients.”
That process, he said, could take some time. Since the requirements aren’t final known yet, it is hard to estimate when that might be.
For now, people interested in following the progress of Oregon’s first-in-the-nation effort can sign up for email updates.