Tag: Healing Advocacy Fund

Like Cannabis, Oregon Psilocybin Pioneers Tackle How to Provide Safe Access to All

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.”

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“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.”

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“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.

Kind Leaf is proud to offer discounts to military veterans, senior citizens, and OMMP patients.

Featured photo available via Wiki Commons.

The Oregon Psilocybin Advisory Board’s First Meeting is March 31st

While I found them extremely frustrating at times (okay, a lot of the time), it was an honor to participate on Oregon’s state advisory boards that made recommendations for both the medical dispensary and adult-use cannabis programs. It is a difficult task to educate state bureaucrats and policymakers when they lack experience or may even harbor ill-feelings toward the very subject at hand. On cannabis, the committees included prohibitionists who didn’t want cannabis legalized at all, making it hard to reach a consensus. And while legalization and regulation is certainly a better policy than prohibition, it’s hard not to lament how things could have been structured better, especially to benefit local small businesses and mom-and-pops. It’s a testament to a lot of hard work that a few craft cannabis boutiques like Kind Leaf have managed to survive and thrive.

From my experience, I don’t envy the members of the Oregon Psilocybin Advisory Board, who will help the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) develop rules for medical psilocybin mushrooms over the next two years. At least with cannabis, the OHA already had a registration system established for patients, caregivers, and growers. While not super supportive to say the least, OHA at least had some experience with cannabis since voters passed the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act back in 1998. Now, the state is starting from scratch with the first medical mushroom system in the nation, as The Portland Mercury reported:

That’s where the Oregon Health Authority’s (OHA) Oregon Psilocybin Advisory Board comes in. Made up of 17 Oregonians who are OHA officials, medical and legal professionals, academics, and advocates, the board is tasked with advising the OHA on how to regulate therapeutic psilocybin use. Its first meeting is Wednesday, March 31.

“The immediate first step [for the board] required by Measure 109 will be to compile all academic research on psilocybin therapy,” said Sam Chapman, Measure 109’s campaign manager. “This research will act as the foundation for the board’s work over the next two years.”

Chapman recently founded the Healing Advocacy Fund, a nonprofit that Chapman said aims to “ensure the measure’s implemented in ways that remain true to the measure that passed in November.” He said that on top of logistical concerns—regulating and labeling the actual substance, and setting safety standards for building codes—the main focus of both the advisory board and his organization will likely be figuring out how to make psilocybin therapy accessible for all Oregonians, “regardless of where they live or their ability to pay.”

If the establishment of the cannabis industry is any guide, one of the biggest challenges will be keeping licensing fees affordable and regulations limited so that smaller entities can compete and psilocybin can be available to patients battling poverty. While Oregon has the most affordable cannabis and cannabis products in the nation, and retailers like Kind Leaf provide discounts for registered OMMP patients, too many patients can be left behind, especially those on fixed incomes that can’t afford their complete medicine supply, especially if they need modalities such as full extract cannabis oil. If you are interested in keeping up on progress and helping keep psilocybin from being over regulated, so it can be accessible to the masses, I urge you to support the efforts of the Healing Advocacy Fund.

The OHA’s bulletin announcing the first meeting:

Oregon Psilocybin Advisory Board meets March 31

What: A public meeting of the Oregon Psilocybin Advisory Board.

Agenda: Opening remarks, purpose of board, update on the OHA Psilocybin Services Program and board tasks and assignments.

When: Wednesday, March 31, 1—4 p.m. No public comment period available.

Where: Via Zoom meeting: https://www.zoomgov.com/j/16051729334, meeting ID 160 5172 9334.

Established by Ballot Measure 109 (2020), the Oregon Psilocybin Advisory Board makes recommendations to OHA on available scientific studies and research on the safety and efficacy of psilocybin in treating mental health conditions, and makes recommendations on the requirements, specifications and guidelines for providing psilocybin services in Oregon.

The Board will also develop a long-term strategic plan for ensuring that psilocybin services will become and remain a safe, accessible and affordable therapeutic option for all persons 21 years of age and older in this state for whom psilocybin may be appropriate; and monitor and study federal laws, regulations and policies regarding psilocybin.

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