The first meeting of the Oregon Health Authority’s Psilocybin Advisory Board was last week and the topic that was at the forefront of the committee members’ minds was how the Beaver State can develop a program that will be as equitable as possible while establishing a model that will have a big impact on other states. Providing healthcare services and medicines to everyone that can benefit, across various demographics is a tough challenge for any program, complicated even more when the medicine is still illegal under federal law.
The Oregon Medical Marijuana Program (OMMP) has certainly had mixed success. With Oregon having the most affordable cannabis in the nation and dispensaries like Kind Leaf offering discounts to OMMP patients, a lot of patients are acquiring an adequate supply of medicine, but too many are falling through the cracks. Unfortunately, this will be an issue for cannabis so long as federal prohibition remains in place. This is a also huge challenge for Oregon’s psilocybin program, so it’s great to see equitable access for a big focus while the state institutes a first-of-its kind system, as KTVL reported:
“I know Measure 109 is the name that’s fresh in our minds, but I actually think about it as the Oregon model of psychedelic care, which we’ll all work together on defining,” said board member Tom Eckert and founder of the Oregon Psilocybin Society, which championed the measure. “I think our work together is going to reverberate across the state, across the country, and across the world deep into the future.”
“With all this expertise, it’s only to Oregon’s benefit to be able to continue to bring in the capacity and expertise that exists on this board. In addition to the capacity and expertise that may exist outside of this board,” said Sam Chapman, the manager of the Yes on 109 campaign and now Executive Director of the Healing Advocacy Fund. “Here in Oregon, even prior to the pandemic, Oregon has been suffering from one of the most several mental health crises in the country.”
“It will be my work along with all of you to ensure that we center holistic equity and decolonization in everything that we do. Every aspect of our work here is an equity issue. From licensing to treatment centers to access and affordability and everything else in between, we have to ensure that our recommendations here are equitable,” said Dr. Rachel Knox, an endocannabinologist and member of the board.
Just as we’ve seen a deluge of evidence about the medical benefits of cannabis over the last few decades, we will likely start seeing more and more evidence about how psilocybin (aka “magic mushrooms”) and other psychedelics can help people battling post-traumatic stress, depression, and other mental health conditions. It’s exciting that Oregon is leading the way and we should be proud to be a pioneer in this field and across the spectrum as we implement drug policies that invest in people instead of prisons.
Featured photo available via Wiki Commons.