PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – After Oregonians approved Measure 109 in 2020, opening the door to legal psilocybin therapy treatments in the state, the Oregon Health Authority says treatment centers could open their doors in 2023.
Psilocybin is a psychedelic derived from what are commonly called “magic mushrooms,” used to treat a variety of mental health issues.
“High quality clinical trials have shown that psilocybin can be beneficial for treating anxiety, depression, trauma, also certain forms of addiction,” said Angela Allbee, Manager of OHA’s psilocybin services.
When it comes to side effects from the psychedelic, Allbee says some people have reported temporary nausea, elevated blood pressure, elevated heart rate or experienced “beautiful images.” She also noted that some people who take psilocybin may not experience these symptoms.
OHA is currently accepting applications for licenses for manufacturers, testing labs, service centers and facilitators. To date, they have accepted three applications for manufacturers, two service center applications and 58 worker permits, according to Allbee.
“Once all four license types; the license applications for manufacturers, testing labs, service centers and facilitators are reviewed and we issue licenses, then service center doors can open,” Allbee explained.
In terms of psilocybin supply, she noted it doesn’t take a lot of resources to cultivate psilocybin adding, “we imagine that we’ll have plenty of psilocybin products but that all depends on the number of licensees and how much psilocybin they’re going to cultivate.”
Amid concerns of psilocybin slipping into the black market, OHA implemented production limits and a product tracking system. With these concerns, Allbee said it’s important that consumers understand what they’re consuming.
“Psilocybin grows naturally throughout the world, so it is not hard to go for a walk in the Pacific Northwest and to find psilocybin-producing mushrooms. The issue is, with this regulated framework, you’ll know that your products are safe. You’ll know that the species has been identified through product testing. You’ll understand the potency and the amount of psilocybin that your products contain and, of course, you’ll have a supervised model, or you’ll have support from a licensed facilitator in a regulated setting,” Allbee said.
She added “this is not a dispensary model. You won’t be able to go into a dispensary and purchase psilocybin and then leave and take it off-site with you.”
As Oregon rolls out psilocybin services, some prospective providers are concerned about the cost of getting into the program.
Matthew Hicks, who is in training to become a psilocybin facilitator, told KOIN 6 News, “$10,000 to have a service center license every year, those are kind of big roadblocks.”
In response, Allbee explained “we’re very concerned about affordability as well. For the clients that want to access services, this won’t be covered by insurance at this time.”
Licensing fees vary from $2,000 for facilitators to $10,000 for service centers, manufacturers and testing labs, Allbee said.
“The reason why these licensing fees are so expensive right now is that when Measure 109 was passed by Oregon voters, it created a fee-based structure which means the cost of all of our sections work, licensing, regulating and all the work we’re doing has to be covered by licensing fees and so, currently there are no state-dedicated funds to help subsidize the cost of either licensing fees or services,” Allbee explained.
Allbee said OHA is working with the Oregon Psilocybin Advisory Board and community members on equitable licensing fees and affordability.
Allbee said OHA hopes to see service centers open by the second quarter of the year, or sometime within 2023.
“As soon as we begin issuing licenses, then those folks who are licensed can begin their work,” Allbee said. “It doesn’t take very long for psilocybin to be cultivated and if there’s further processing into extracts or edible food products, then that might take a little more time. But we’re not looking at a long growth cycle, maybe three or four weeks on average.”