Oregon regulators announced on Tuesday that they have approved the nation’s first state-licensed psilocybin facilitators to administer the psychedelic to adults at regulated facilities.
The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) approved three facilitators—David Naftalin, Alexander Polvi and Jeanette Small—to provide psilocybin health services under the law that voters approved in 2020.
“We want to congratulate the first facilitators to be licensed in Oregon,” Oregon Psilocybin Services (OPS) Section Manager Angie Allbee said in a press release. “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.”
OHA approved the first-ever license for a psilocybin manufacturer last month, and it’s since issued an additional license to provide the psychedelic to service centers.
Regulators were tasked under the historic voter-approved initiative to begin issuing licenses for the manufacturing, testing and administering of psilocybin by January 2, 2023. OPS said that it “anticipates issuing licenses to service center and laboratory applicants in the coming months.”
OHA has also approved 60 psilocybin worker permits so far. A total of 302 worker permit and license applications have been submitted to the state as of Tuesday.
But the implementation of the psilocybin initiative in Oregon hasn’t gone without hiccups.
There’s a major question about local access, for example, as more than 100 cities across the state have enacted two-year moratoriums or bans prohibiting the service centers from being established in their jurisdictions.
Also, the Netherlands-based Synthesis Institute that invested heavily in creating a training program for facilitators to administer psilocybin at the future centers recently disclosed that it ran out of funding.
The rulemaking process has proved contentious at times, too. Some advocates have raised concerns over the perception that regulators were prioritizing for-profit corporations to manage the psilocybin services program over community-based organizations and indigenous groups.
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Meanwhile, the Oregon Psilocybin Advisory Board has promoted research into the therapeutic potential of the psychedelic. Members released an initial report in 2021 that looked into the science, and the board also approved a research team that year to develop a more comprehensive overview of the science, history and culture of psilocybin.
Two years after Oregon’s move to legalize psilocybin services, Colorado voters pass a ballot initiative to legalize a wide range of psychedelics while also providing regulated access to psilocybin.
Last month, Colorado senators gave initial approval to the 15-member Natural Medicine Advisory Board that will assist regulators in implementing that law.
These developments come amid a surge of legislative efforts to reform state laws governing psychedelic substances.
For example, a Washington State bill to promote research into psilocybin and create a pilot program to provide therapeutic access to the psychedelic for mental health treatment is heading to the governor’s desk following final approval in the Senate.
A Nevada Senate committee approved a revised bill last week that would create a new working group to study psychedelics and develop a plan to allow regulated access for therapeutic purposes.
The Hawaii Senate approved a bill last week to create an advisory council to look into possible regulations to provide access to federal “breakthrough therapies” like psilocybin and MDMA.
Minnesota lawmakers recently attached the provisions of a bill to create a psychedelics task force that would prepare the state for possible legalization to large-scale omnibus health legislation that could reach the House floor soon.
A Republican Massachusetts lawmaker has filed three new psychedelics reform bills, including proposals to legalize substances like psilocybin and reschedule MDMA pending federal approval while setting a price cap on therapeutic access.
Those are just a few examples of the types of reforms that legislators across the country are considering this session.
An analysis published in an American Medical Association journal last year concluded that a majority of states will legalize psychedelics by 2037, based on statistical modeling of policy trends.
A national poll published last month found that a majority of U.S. voters support legal access to psychedelics therapy and back federally decriminalizing substances like psilocybin and MDMA.
Photo courtesy of Dick Culbert.