Oregon's Opt-Out Results & Future Unfolding Of Psilocybin Service Centers

In the November midterms, many Oregonians decided to vote against the establishment of psychedelic-assisted therapy centers in their localities.

Several cities and counties had expressed their decision to “opt-out” of the Psilocybin Services Act, a possibility included within the 2020 statewide measure. The ballot reflected the rural-urban divide as 27 out of 36 Oregon counties and 115 towns called on their voters to decide whether to allow the therapeutic centers to function in their territories.

Psychedelic Alpha’s tracker shows opt-outs passed in almost two-thirds of the state, yet the cities with the largest populations opted in. including Portland and most of the Willamette Valley.

Only two towns -Phoenix and Wheeler and-Deschutes and Jackson counties voted to ban the measure whereas in 25 counties opt-out won. Four counties -Clackamas, Clatsop, Curry and Tillamook- switched from being in favor of Measure 109 to being against it. 

This translates to unincorporated areas within those counties where psilocybin centers and manufacturing will remain illegal. Noticeably, 17 of the total 137 opt outs will only last two years, and the remaining prohibitions can be terminated if voters decide so. 

Nine counties did not include opt-outs in their ballots and therefore automatically registered into the program: Benton, Columbia, Lincoln, Lane, Hood River, Multnomah, Wasco, Yamhill and Washington. 

Specifically in Jackson County, several municipalities approved local bans or moratoriums, so prospective businesses must ensure that there is no municipal restriction even if allowed at the county level.

Executive director of the Healing Advocacy Fund Sam Chapman said that results in Jackson and Deschutes counties showed how local advocates worked to inform residents about the psilocybin centers and the specific treatment to be provided.

“We really believe that as psilocybin therapy gets implemented in Oregon communities in 2023 and beyond, voters will continue to learn about how it can help address our state’s mental health crisis. And over time, access will only continue to expand,” said Chapman. 

Upcoming Regulations

Local governments are still assessing time, place and manner (TPM) regulations, and will most likely not promulgate specific land use and zoning for psilocybin centers before the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) presents its set of rules by the end of 2022.

Nonetheless, these businesses must present a local Land Use Compatibility Statement (LUCS) in order to get their license from the OHA. So it is yet to be seen how localities will regulate in the period spanning between the start of the license applications in Jan. 2023, and the wrap-up of local TPM rules.

There is a chance for the public to participate in the OHA’s ruling process, through the last of three public hearing sessions on Nov. 21.

The proposed rules include issues such as equitable access, the cost of becoming a licensed service provider, the use of personal data, and if staying in the centers for long periods of time will be necessary when microdosing psilocybin.

Importantly, these rules will determine the next two years of psilocybin services in Oregon, which will also be available for non-residents. Yet the implications extend beyond the state, as other governments might follow suit.

More On Measure 109 & Experts Comments

Oregon’s Measure 109 -aka Psilocybin Services Act- allows adults 21 and over to take psilocybin at licensed centers guided by a trained facilitator, without the need for a physician’s diagnosis.

Yet the bill that decriminalizes possession of personal amounts of psychedelics is actually Measure 110, also approved in 2020. Neither of the two measures expressly decriminalizes gifting and home cultivation of magic mushrooms.

Under Measure 109, the OHA will grant licenses to facilities providing access to psilocybin products and sessions with trained facilitators which differ from FDA-regulated psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy, as Oregon legalized “supported adult use.” That is, the bill follows a “non-medical model.” 

Jon Dennis is an attorney, executive director of training program Vital Oregon, and member of the Chacruna council for the protection of sacred plants advocating for greater community access in Measure 109. 

Under the current ruling, facilitators can only regulate a decreasing number of clients as psilocybin doses go higher: two clients taking 35 milligrams or more require one facilitator, while 25 clients taking five or less milligrams of psilocybin can be monitored by a sole facilitator.

The “one-size-fits-all” program, as Dennis called it, would in his view equate tourist resorts with religious communities, providing no flexibility for these groups to select a facilitation ratio that responds to the needs of the group, while also driving up costs without forcibly ensuring more safety. 

Photo by Tingey Injury Law Firm on Unsplash.

Posted In: CannabisNewsPsychedelicsLegalMarketsOregon Health AuthorityOregon Psilocybin Services ActPsychedelic-Assisted Therapies


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