An Oregon Senate committee recently advanced a bill to ensure that equity is built into the state’s historic therapeutic psilocybin program that’s actively being implemented following voter approval in 2020.
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 in psychedelics treatment, representatives of the indigenous community and more.
The Senate Human Services, Mental Health and Recovery Committee unanimously approved the measure on February 10, with two members excused. It now heads to the Ways and Means Committee before it could potentially advance to the floor.
Psilocybin Health Equity, SB1580 has passed out of the Senate Committee on Human Services, Mental Health and Recovery by a vote of 3 yes – 2 excused!
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*Bills are being added and updated in real time. pic.twitter.com/z5Yb64Gd1z
— Akasha Lawrence Spence (@teamakasha) February 18, 2022
“Oregon needs to push for equity focused provisions that will support some of the most vulnerable communities including low-income and BIPOC individuals,” Campos said in written testimony before the panel. “We cannot continue the cycle of shutting out the future of medicine to certain communities and we have a rare opportunity here to prevent these inequities from being built into this system in the first place.”
Under the proposal, the task force 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.”
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 last month 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 in December.