Oregon Licenses First 3 Legal Psilocybin Treatment Centers

By Peter Page Peter Page has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team
Published on April 20, 2023

The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) has licensed the first three facilities where people can legally take psilocybin for mental health purposes.

Oregon voters approved the Oregon Psilocybin Services Act in a 2020 initiative, which has since been codified in Oregon law. Oregon is the first US state to legalize and regulate psilocybin and license centers to provide psilocybin services. Colorado voters approved a referendum to legalize psilocybin for medical use in 2022, and the state legislature is reportedly finalizing legislation to set up the industry.

Psilocybin, considered a “classic psychedelic,” has been used for centuries in many cultures for spiritual purposes. Psilocybin use, and even research, was made illegal in the US under the Controlled Substances Act, but “magic mushrooms” have had a resurgence as an effective treatment for a wide range of mental health problems.

“The resurgence of clinical trials involving psilocybin in the 21st century has produced promising results concerning the treatment of addiction, depression, and end-of-life mood disorders,” according to an analysis of psilocybin-assisted therapy, which noted that psilocybin is at least as effective as SSRI drugs for treating depression and is surprising effective “in the treatment of addiction, which is notoriously difficult to treat.’’

The FDA classified psilocybin as a ‘breakthrough therapy‘ in 2018 to allow researchers to investigate it as a therapy for treatment-resistant depression. A host of studies published since then have been encouraging. A 2020 study showed that psilocybin relieved major depressive symptoms in adults for up to a month. By comparison, SSRI medications, such as Zoloft, which have been the primary drug treatment for depression since the 1990s, are often ineffective. Recent research has called into question the “chemical imbalance” hypothesis for why they work. Some studies have found that SSRIs are barely more effective than a placebo

A follow-up study this year of the patients found that when given alongside psychotherapy, psilocybin can ease symptoms for up to a year.

“We want to congratulate the first facilitators to be licensed in Oregon,” said Oregon Psilocybin Services (OPS) Section Manager Angie Allbee. “As your work in providing non-directive psilocybin services takes shape, we thank you for your dedication to client safety and access as we move closer to opening service centers.”

Under Oregon law, psilocybin treatments are only allowed in licensed service centers under the supervision of facilitators trained to support preparation, administration, and integration sessions with clients. The service centers will provide the psilocybin, which is produced by licensed manufacturers.

There are only two licensed manufacturers in the state, but more licenses for service center and laboratory applicants are expected to be issued in the coming months.

A 2019 episode of 60 Minutes dramatically raised public awareness of the potential for psilocybin to relieve treatment-resistant depression, ease the final months of life for terminal cancer patients, seemingly cure addiction and help to return combat veterans suffering the psychic wounds of war. A growing number of states have since either legalized psilocybin or held hearings to consider legalization.

The regulatory process in Oregon is painstaking and costly for applicants. Tori Armbrust was the first person to apply for a license to grow magic mushrooms and the first person to receive a manufacturer license. Armbrust paid $10,000 for the license and will have to pay another $10,000 every year to renew the license. She has already spent about $25,000 of her life savings trying to open a legal psilocybin grow facility without yet growing or selling a single mushroom. And she has yet to earn a dime.

“People are under a lot of pressure with all this overhead,” Armbrust told one publication. “It’s a lot of money and we have to get it going.”

By Peter Page Peter Page has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team

Journalist verified by Muck Rack verified

Peter Page is an Editor-at-Large at Grit Daily. He is available to record live, old-school style interviews via Zoom, and run them at Grit Daily and Apple News, or BlockTelegraph for a fee.Formerly at Entrepreneur.com, he began his journalism career as a newspaper reporter long before print journalism had even heard of the internet, much less realized it would demolish the industry. The years he worked as a police reporter are a big influence on his world view to this day. Page has some degree of expertise in environmental policy, the energy economy, ecosystem dynamics, the anthropology of urban gangs, the workings of civil and criminal courts, politics, the machinations of government, and the art of crystallizing thought in writing.

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