Oregon’s Legal Medical Psilocybin Program Rolls Out Under Growing Scrutiny

Questions remain about the facilitator training programs.

It’s still too early to really discuss the pros and cons of the rollout of Oregon’s medical psilocybin program. License applications are being accepted and reviewed, and other details are being worked out to help move the program along and open the service centers. But we do have a few details.

It’s the first such program of legalized medical psilocybin in the country, and it has had its share of bumps in the road as citizens, lawmakers, and regulators keep a close eye on developments.

What’s Ahead

The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) reported that they do expect service centers to become operational later this year, but it will “take some time for all four license types (manufacturing, laboratory, service centers, and facilitators) to become licensed and set up operations.”

The Jan. 13 weekly report from OHA showed six applications under review by OHA: four for manufacturers and two for service centers. At least 12 other psilocybin producers and service center operations have been approved for business development in Jackson County, which borders California to the south and s home to about 250,000 Oregonians. Those outfits presumably will be working with the OHA for licensing.

During their upcoming three-hour meeting on Feb. 2, the Oregon Psilocybin Advisory Board (OPAB) is expected to create new subcommittees to help with the program. No word on what those subcommittees will be or what they will do.

OPAB will also review a draft of a letter intended for the U.S. attorney for the District of Oregon, Natalie Wight, inviting her to meet with the OHA staff and the chair of the OPAB to discuss the program.

Then on May 5, after the subcommittee decisions are made, OPAB will consider nominations for subcommittee chairs and members. Nominations may be drawn from applicants identified in a public application process.

Over the course of the next few months, OPAB also plans on creating feedback mechanisms to hear from licensees and tribal communities. In May, they plan to check in to see if the program is effective for the range of facilitator backgrounds.

As the program continues to develop in the state, proponents have to keep in mind that voters in November were decidedly split about wanting medical psilocybin services. Voters in 25 of Oregon’s 36 counties voted to ban psilocybin service centers.

A few of these counties just implemented short-term bans while they take more time to consider the issue, look at restrictions, and make up rules, according to a reporter for Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB).

“They kind of wanted a little pause to wait and see how this would actually work,” Jane Vaughan said during a broadcast Nov. 14. “There were actually three counties that did not enact a permanent ban. It’s just a two-year ban. They’re hoping to get some more information, take a pause, and then could always allow psilocybin in the future.”

The Facilitator Question

As we get closer to startups of these service centers, it’s the facilitators and their training that has created the most discussion.

As reported by Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), the facilitators who will run the program likely will not be medical or mental health professionals. In fact, there are only two educational requirements for becoming a facilitator in the Oregon system:

  • A high school diploma or GED.
  • Graduation from a state-approved facilitator training program.

This means Oregon is relying heavily on those facilitator training programs to implement the program safely and responsibly. These programs will be regulated both by the OHA and by the Oregon Higher Education Coordinating Commission.

There are currently 19 active approved facilitator training programs throughout the state, five of which are located in Portland. Each of them promotes a slightly different approach to training.

Tim Schlidt, co-founder of Palo Santo, a psychedelics therapeutic investment fund, told Psychedealia that the Oregon program is something that he has been monitoring, but that he doesn’t think it’ll be an investable universe for him.

“It’s tough to put money to work in that market,” he said. “But one concerning piece is the training required for a therapist, which does feel incredibly low. I think I heard it’s around 120 hours training. And when you compare that to a lot of other professions out there, it just sounds woefully low. When compared to even hairdressers, for example, where required training is over 1,000 hours.”

He said that there’s a balance between having enough practitioners and ensuring safety.

“So having barriers be low enough that you actually want to become a practitioner, and at the same time, we have patient safety we need to take into consideration,” he said. “I’m not sure if that’s optimized. There’s been plenty of therapist abuse, as well as a few scandals in the space. I just have a tough time seeing how you avoid that. The practitioners have a lot of power over a patient who’s in a very suggestible state. It just feels really risky. And I’d hate for that to actually set back the movement by having a lot of negative stories and negative headlines.”

Dave Hodes

David Hodes is a business journalist based in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area. He has contributed feature articles to several cannabis and psychedelics publications, as well as general business/lifestyle publications, on a variety of topics. Hodes was selected as 2018 Journalist of the Year by Americans for Safe Access. He is a member of the National Press Club, and the deputy booking agent for the National Press Club Headliners Committee.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Choose Your News

Subscribe to the Green Market Report newsletter that gives you original content delivered straight to your inbox.

 Subscribe

By continuing I agree to your Privacy Policy and consent to receive relevant newsletters and other email communications on events, editorial features, and special partner offers from Green Market Report. I can unsubscribe or change my email preferences at any time.


About Us

The Green Market Report focuses on the financial news of the rapidly growing cannabis industry. Our target approach filters out the daily noise and does a deep dive into the financial, business and economic side of the cannabis industry. Our team is cultivating the industry’s critical news into one source and providing open source insights and data analysis


READ MORE



Recent Tweets

@GreenMarketRpt – 50 mins

FDA Says CBD Still Can’t Be Dietary Supplement

@GreenMarketRpt – 5 hours

Mind Cure Continues Its Winding Down Process

Back to Top

Choose Your News

Subscribe to the Green Market Report newsletter that gives you original content delivered straight to your inbox.

 Subscribe

By continuing I agree to your Privacy Policy and consent to receive relevant newsletters and other email communications on events, editorial features, and special partner offers from Green Market Report. I can unsubscribe or change my email preferences at any time.