As Oregon prepares to implement a first-of-its-kind legal psilocybin services program, lawmakers have taken a proactive step to ensure that equity is built into the policy change with a new bill.
The bicameral measure from Sen. Lawrence Spence (D) and Rep. Wlnsvey Campos (D) would create a 15-member “Task Force on Psilocybin Health Equity” comprised of lawmakers, regulators involved in psilocybin reform implementation, people with experience with psychedelics treatment, representatives of the indigenous community and more.
The group would be responsible for ensuring “equity and accessibility in Oregon’s developing psilocybin services,” the bill text says.
At a minimum, the task force would be required to explore barriers that people of color face in starting psilocybin-related businesses, training and retaining “culturally specific psilocybin service facilitators” and access to psychedelic sessions for low-income people and minority communities.
Members would also need to generally study the development of “psilocybin research-specific licenses and the regulation of research partnerships that explore the efficacy of psilocybin therapy and expansion of access to psilocybin services.”
They would be tasked with further looking into a psilocybin equity program to “provide resources to communities with barriers to accessing health care, to increase the number of culturally specific practices and people who are low-income who hold licenses.”
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The wide-ranging equity study would be used to inform regulatory or legislative decisions around reducing fees for disadvantaged communities, grants for those individuals to receive financial and technical assistance to enter the market and a proposal that “psilocybin service centers dedicate a minimum percentage of psilocybin treatment sessions to clients who are low-income.”
Mason Marks, a member of Oregon’s Psilocybin Advisory Board that was established under the voter-approved 2020 initiative told Marijuana Moment that the new bill is “very important because Measure 109 did not focus on equity as much as it should have,” whereas emerging psychedelic legislation in other states—including neighboring Washington—makes equity a “central concern.”
“Oregon has been a trend setter with respect to psychedelics policy,” he said. “But when it comes to equity it may fall behind.
Looking ahead, Marks said, future legislation should allow at-home psilocybin services for people unable to travel to a service center and more affordable and accessible training opportunities for would-be facilitators of psychedelic sessions.
For now, under the current bill, the task force would also need to investigate the possibility of creating a psilocybin equity office in the state. Members would be required to submit a report on its findings by November 1, 2022.
This would not be a permanent task force, as the aforementioned requirements would be repealed as of January 2, 2023 under the measure.
The existing Psilocybin Advisory Board is set to issue recommendations on implementing the program to state regulators in March.
Late last year, the board cleared a team of researchers to produce a comprehensive report on the science, history and culture of the psychedelic as regulators prepare to license facilities to administer it.
Members of the board released an initial report in July that reviewed hundreds of studies into psilocybin, as required under the state initiative. But they were pressed for time and said they would working with a recently established psychedelic research center at Harvard Law School to more thoroughly cover the subject.
Part of the intent of the expanded research project is to help inform legislative efforts outside of Oregon where psychedelics reform is being considered.
Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), who represents the state in Congress and endorsed the psychedelics initiative, said during an event with the national Plant Medicine Coalition this week that there’s a “very thoughtful, very deliberate” process underway to implement the reform.
The congressman said that he’s “very excited that Oregon is going to once again be pioneering a very critical policy area.” He also talked about his enthusiasm for the state experiment in response to a question from Marijuana Moment at a separate event last month.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia/Mushroom Observer.