Jackson County commissioners are asking the Oregon Health Authority to tighten state regulatory plans on psychedelic mushrooms. [Associated Press file photo]
Jackson County commissioners want the state to limit the number of licenses it issues to grow psychedelic mushrooms to an amount that would reasonably supply the legal market.
They also want establishments that administer doses of mushrooms to customers to have security personnel and emergency medical personnel on site. The commissioners do not want companies that have alcohol or marijuana licenses to be able to obtain a license to administer psychedelic mushrooms.
County commissioners voted Thursday to send a letter requesting regulation to the Oregon Health Authority. The OHA is drafting state rules for the launch of psychedelic mushroom companies in January.
According to the draft rules, the OHA does not plan to limit the number of licenses it issues to producers.
Mushroom proponents said a house-sized facility could provide all the mushrooms needed for therapeutic use in Jackson County. The promoters said that if there were too many producers and they couldn’t make a profit, they would go out of business, which would solve the problem of too many producers.
Jackson County Attorney Joel Benton said the state could see a repeat of the problems Oregon faced after voters legalized recreational marijuana.
The state government did not limit growing licenses to a number that could supply Oregon’s legal market. Both legal and illegal growers overproduce, resulting in diversion to the black market in Oregon and other states.
“That’s exactly what we’ve heard with cannabis. ‘Never mind. If there are too many, the price will drop and people will close their doors. Turns out they found alternative markets to send their product to,” Benton said.
Oregonians voted in 2020 to allow licensed facilitators to administer mushrooms grown by licensed growers. Mushrooms must be consumed by customers in licensed facilities. The industry launches in 2023 after the OHA finalizes the regulations.
Unlike medical and recreational marijuana in Oregon, psychedelic mushrooms cannot legally be sold to the public in retail stores. Customers will only be able to obtain mushrooms from facilities licensed to administer mushrooms, in accordance with Oregon’s proposed regulations.
Some companies are already circumventing proposed regulations on psychedelic mushroom therapy.
The national company Psychedelic Passage, for example, encourages people to buy mushrooms on the black market and hire their own “psychedelic guide”, also known as a “trip sitter”.
A travel sitter watches over people as they ingest mushrooms at home. The cost of the service starts at $1,500 and can exceed $3,000. The company offers the service in several Oregon cities, including Medford, according to the Psychedelic Passage website.
The company says customers must supply their own psychedelic mushrooms.
However, there will be nowhere for customers to purchase them in Oregon.
“Psychedelic Passage does not provide psychoactive or controlled substances, nor are we licensed therapists, counselors, or healthcare professionals,” the company says in a disclaimer on its website.
Psychedelic Passage notes that even though the personal purchase of psychedelic mushrooms is not legal in Oregon, someone caught illegally with mushrooms only faces a $100 bill because voters previously reduced penalties. for possession of quantities of drugs such as mushrooms, heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine.
The company also provides trip keepers for people using other psychedelic drugs such as LSD and ecstasy.
“Please understand that psychedelics are still federally controlled substances and you assume all risks associated with the possession and use of these drugs,” says Psychedelic Passage.
For those looking to buy from illegal sources, experts experienced in growing various types of mushrooms warn that people can poison themselves by consuming the wrong type of mushroom.
Psychedelic Passage says it cannot guarantee that customers will not have a “bad trip,” meaning scary or disturbing. The company says that using psilocybin, the ingredient in mushrooms that triggers hallucinations and sensory distortions, can stir up a person’s fears and suppressed emotions, but that’s part of growing stronger.
“In a herbal medicine ceremony, you get what you need, not what you think you need. This is only possible because of the innate intelligence of psilocybin-containing mushrooms,” says Psychedelic Passage.
Jackson County commissioners have expressed concern that people may experience a mental or physical health emergency when using psychedelic mushrooms. They can also become violent during a bad trip. This could put more pressure on local ambulance services and the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office.
“It’s a cost to taxpayers and to the county,” Jackson County Administrator Danny Jordan said.
County commissioners voted to ask the OHA to require medical and security personnel on site.
Like marijuana, psychedelic mushrooms are not federally legal, which limits the ability of companies to use banks.
“They’re operating on the belief that they’ll have all this money and medicine and no one will steal it,” Jordan said of the proposed mushroom businesses.
He noted that both legal commercial marijuana operators and illegal operators have been victims of violent crimes in Jackson County when criminals came to steal their money and marijuana.
The OHA has written rules about how long a customer must stay at a mushroom business after ingesting various amounts of mushrooms.
Mushroom businesses that also supplied alcohol or marijuana onsite could add to a person’s intoxication, creating hazards on the road and in communities, Jordan said.
County commissioners are asking the OHA not to issue mushroom licenses to businesses that have alcohol or marijuana licenses.
In addition to sending their comments on the state rules to the OHA, county commissioners will hold a public hearing at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 23 on potential local regulations on mushroom businesses in unincorporated parts. County. The hearing is being held at the Jackson County Courthouse Auditorium, 10 S. Oakdale Ave., Medford.
For more information on accessing the live hearing online, see jacksoncounty.org.
The Jackson County Planning Commission has recommended that mushroom businesses be permitted in a fairly wide variety of areas as long as they are at least 1,000 feet from schools. County commissioners will make the final decision on local rules, which can cover things like the location of businesses and their hours of operation.
Research is ongoing, but some studies show that the psilocybin in psychedelic mushrooms can help with depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and end-of-life distress.
Oregonians won’t have to show they have any of those requirements to take mushrooms from a company that administers mushrooms, said Jackson County Developmental Services Director Ted Zuk.
Guided mushroom sessions with a licensed facilitator at a licensed business shouldn’t be cheap.
Ashland Consciousness Medicine in Hidden Springs already offers therapy with the psychedelic ketamine. For one person, the cost is $1,355 for a medical and psychological evaluation, a preparation session, a ketamine use session and an integration session to process the experience, according to the website of the company.
Doing the group therapy process costs $1,025 per person, according to Ashland Consciousness Medicine.
The Oregon Psilocybin Advisory Board’s Equity Subcommittee is tasked with coming up with ideas to make psychedelic mushroom therapy accessible and affordable for more people.
Contact Mail Tribune reporter Vickie Aldous at 541-776-4486 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @VickieAldous.