As new psilocybin service centers begin opening for business in Oregon, many residents interested in using their products have questions and concerns.
That might be expected for a health initiative that is the first of its kind. Oregon became the first state in the nation to legalize the supervised use of psilocybin when Ballot Measure 109 passed in 2020.
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The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) issued the state’s first psilocybin manufacturer license to Satori Farms PDX LLC in March. Oregon Psilocybin Services (OPS), which operates within OHA’s Public Health Division’s Center for Health Protection, has issued six service center licenses. And while some service centers have begun offering psilocybin services, residents who want to access them, including David Layton, said they were confused about how to do so when OPS held public comment meetings last month.
“I’d like to be a patient, but don’t know how to do that,” Layton said.
OPS members did not answer questions during the meetings, as they were held for the purpose of collecting information. Meeting moderators said they would release a document that listed participants’ questions and answers to those questions in the coming weeks. But residents can visit this OPS webpage to learn more about accessing services, although some service centers may not be offering services yet.
“Once licensed, service centers are able to exercise the privileges of their licenses, but will decide when to open the doors to clients,” OHA spokesman Afiq Hisham told State of Reform.
Meeting participants also had questions about the costs of psilocybin at service centers. Jim Tate said some are charging between $1,000 and $2,000.
“The most expensive I’ve seen is $3,000. Some of these folks are mom-and-pop organizations, and if it’s necessary for them to charge $3,000 or more for supplying this service, that’s definitely not going to be promoting equity and access. And it will stimulate the underground psilocybin movement. If that happens, and they can’t stay in business, I have concerns about those initial folks who have jumped into this and have to charge thousands of dollars to those getting services. That flies in the face of access.”
The state cannot regulate the cost of psilocybin products, so providers will dictate the market.
“Each licensed service center, and the licensed facilitators who work for or with them, will set their own costs and manage their own operations and communications,” Hisham said.
Meeting attendee Lyndi-Rae Petty, an alcohol and drug prevention coordinator for Washington County, said educational outreach for psilocybin services needs to be easy to understand. Studies have shown psilocybin to be effective in treating depression, addiction, anxiety, and disorders like PTSD.
“There are some known harms that people experience,” Petty said. “I have a feeling as these are rolled out there will be more questions about what psilocybin is generally. Is it safe? I think we need to be careful about messaging, and saying this is not something we’re advising for young people, or something we recommend growing in your backyard. I worry about that.”
Meeting attendee Khristi Levack agreed with Petty.
“I support psilocybin for medicinal aspects. It helps with sleep disorders. I know a lot of people, when they hear about psilocybin, [are thinking about] getting high. And with messaging, it’s important to embrace the true medical benefits. It’s not [hallucinating about] trees walking around.”
OPS will continue to make adjustments as services are rolled out. OPS announced that an additional rules advisory committee will be required on Tuesday. OPS has already selected members to serve on two rules committees, and is accepting applications to serve on the third, which will focus on rules related to training programs and the intersection of the Higher Education Coordinating Commission’s licensure for positions. It will take some time for all four license types related to psilocybin services (manufacturing, laboratory, service centers, and facilitators) to become licensed and set up operations.
Those interested in serving on the 2023 training program rules committee can email [email protected] by Aug. 24th.