Psilocybin Therapy is Now Legal in Oregon — But There’s a Catch

The article Psilocybin Therapy is Now Legal in Oregon — But There’s a Catch was originally published on Microdose.

Companies Working With Psilocybin

On January 1st, Oregon became the first state in the USA to legalize psilocybin therapy. From here on, adults 21 years of age and older will be able to receive psilocybin-assisted therapy, conducted by a licensed organization.

The only catch? As of yet, there are no licensed groups that can legally provide the therapy.

This is due to the fact that while January 1st saw the legalization of psilocybin-assisted therapy in Oregon, the state did not begin processing applications for companies and nonprofits who wish to open so-called “healing centers” in the state until January 2nd.

This means that we are now in a waiting period for the Oregon bureaucracy to begin approving institutions. It is unclear at the moment how long this process will take.

Nevertheless, despite this delay, Oregon is making history, as the first state in the union to legalize a form of psychedelic-assisted therapy. The state also decriminalized most psychedelics and other drugs in 2020.

This all was set into motion in 2020, when Oregon residents voted for Measure 109, a binding ballot initiative that asked citizens of the state if they wanted to decriminalize many drugs, and legalize psilocybin therapy.

While the state did vote in favor of this referendum, it took the bureaucracy two years to lay the regulatory framework and set the rules for how the psilocybin-assisted therapy system would function. Furthermore, in 2022, Oregon gave its counties the right to opt-out of hosting the “healing centers” where said therapy would take place, and 25 of the 36 counties embraced NIMBYism (not in my backyard) and said no.

This means that once the first institutions are approved, they can only operate in 11 of the state’s 36 counties.

Though this seems limiting, these 11 counties include the two largest in the state —  Multnomah and Washington — and the 4 largest population centers — Portland, Salem, Eugene, and Bend.

Here — again once licenses are approved — all adults will have the right to try psilocybin-assisted therapy, whether or not they have a doctor’s note.

It is important to keep in mind, however, that retail sales of the substance are still banned, as is selling psilocybin on the black market.


psychedelic therapy
Photo credit: Reuters


Psilocybin therapy access, but at what cost?

A large unanswered question will be the cost of such a therapy session. A psilocybin experience can last around 8 hours, and the person will need to be monitored throughout their experience. While the facilitators do not need to be licensed therapists — in fact to enter the facilitator licensing program a person only needs a high school degree — the cost of one-on-one care for a full day will still likely be high.

When adding in all other costs that go into running a business — and presumably a profit margin as well — patients could be looking at a bill in the high hundreds or even thousands of dollars for a single guided psychedelic therapy session.

While we may need to wait several weeks for the first healing center to be approved, psychedelic advocates can take solace in the fact that legal psilocybin-assisted therapy is actually happening. Even a decade ago this would have seemed like an outlandish proposal to many.

Furthermore, Oregon will not be the last state to legalize psilocybin therapy. In 2022, Colorado voters approved a similar measure to decriminalize natural psychedelics and legalize psilocybin-assisted therapy. Like with Oregon, that system will take at least two years to set up. Unlike Oregon, in Colorado, no counties will be able to opt-out.

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