Tag: Measure 109

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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Oregon’s Psilocybin Mushroom Program Is Set to Show Our Nation a Promising Way to Heal

I’ll never forget the first time that I met Tom and Sheri Eckert for lunch at Cheryl’s on 12th in downtown Portland. The therapist couple was seeking some insight into starting a ballot initiative campaign to legalize medicinal psilocybin mushroom therapy in Oregon.

As chief petitioner for the Measure 91 cannabis legalization effort, I did my best to provide them a lay of the land and helped introduce them to a few folks that could help. One of the first things that I noticed, and this observation held steady, the Eckert’s were true believers in the healing power of psilocybin. They weren’t promoting a legal change to generate a new revenue stream for themselves, as their proposed initiative wasn’t going to make them and their fellow therapists any type of gatekeeper, and they wanted to do all that they could to keep Big Pharma from controlling the system.

I couldn’t be more proud of how Tom and Sheri handled the bright spotlight that statewide political races put you under. As Ezra Klein writes in a landmark piece in The New York Times, Oregon, thanks to the Eckert’s and the campaign team that they ultimately put together, is pioneering a medicinal psilocybin program that can show the United States a new, promising way to heal mental trauma:

Measure 109, the Oregon Psilocybin Services Act, approved as a ballot measure in November, is the brainchild of Tom and Sheri Eckert, who shared a therapy practice in Portland. In 2015, the Eckerts read a piece by Michael Pollan in The New Yorker titled “The Trip Treatment.” The article described the emerging research around using psychedelics as a therapeutic tool and unearthed the largely forgotten pre-Timothy Leary period in which psychedelics were widely used by psychiatrists. The government funded more than a hundred studies, and as Pollan recounts in “How to Change Your Mind,” his subsequent book, Anaïs Nin, Jack Nicholson and Cary Grant all underwent LSD-assisted therapy. Bill Wilson, a co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, who’d given up drinking with the aid of a hallucinogenic plant called belladonna, considered bringing LSD-assisted therapy into AA in the 1950s, but was met with disapproval from his board.

This was a very different model of psychedelic use: There was a trained mental health professional in the room and subsequent therapy to help turn the insights into action. The early results were promising, though the studies were poorly designed. At times, the fear was the compounds were too powerful and left people too malleable to the suggestions of their guide. One early practitioner worried that on psychedelics, “the fondest theories of the therapist are confirmed by his patient,” and that even though the healing was real, the pathway was “nihilistic,” bordering on something like hypnosis. This era of study ended before these questions could be resolved, when psychedelics slipped into the counterculture, where they were used without therapeutic safeguards, and the Nixon administration targeted them as part of its culture war. A remnant of healers who used psychedelics in their work remained, but they were driven underground.

Maybe the most important aspect of Klein’s piece is where the prominent columnist writes about his own experience with psychedelics:

I avoided psychedelics when I was younger, fearful of the loss of control, and tried them later, desperately, when there was more darkness in my mind than light. It was not an easy time for me, and these were not easy experiences. They kicked down doors around my anxiety, my marriage, my work, my family, my resentments, my attachments, my self. Those rooms were often unpleasant to enter. There was ecstasy and beauty, yes, but also fear and, often, so often, intense nausea. Things I’d fought to ignore resurfaced. Disparate parts of my life and beliefs and personality connected, and I became more legible to myself. I am not cleansed of anxiety, but I am more aware that my outlook, at any given moment, is just a dance of brain chemistry and experience, and far from the only state possible. That a few micrograms of chemical was all it took to upend my confident grip on reality shook me in ways I’m grateful for. I hold my judgments and worldviews more lightly, and I am friendlier to mystery and strangeness.

Sadly, Sheri Eckert, someone so full of light and positive energy, passed away last December. As Klein wrote, “An idea could be like a child,” Sheri beautifully told Tom before they embarked on their historic, pioneering initiative campaign. Their idea not only lives on, but it will undoubtedly have children of its own as other states follow Oregon’s example and legalizes psilocybin for therapeutic purposes.

As Oregonians, we can be proud that we are helping lead the way on drug policy and have taken a huge sledgehammer to the racist and failed War on Drugs by passing both Measure 109 and Measure 110 last November. I imagine that we are going to see more positive drug policy reforms, especially as science unlocks the medicinal benefits of other psychedelic drugs, and sees that the “sky doesn’t fall” when you decriminalize drug possession. All of us drug policy reformers stand upon the shoulders of giants and Tom and Sheri Eckert will always be two giants that helped pave the way for more people to heal and I, for one, will always be so thankful.

Oregon Psilocybin Advisory Board Now Taking Applications

Oregon’s cannabis community set the stage for our great state to take the lead on eliminating the harms of the Drug War by laying the foundation for change decades ago. Oregon has either been first, or among the first states to pass a few important drug policy reforms, dating all the way back to 1973, when the Beaver State was the first to decriminalize personal amounts of cannabis. Fast forward to 2020, and not only has Oregon legalized cannabis, but has become the first state to vote to decriminalize personal possession of all drugs and legalize psilocybin treatment.

The monumental mushroom measure, Measure 109, won with a strong majority at the ballot box with a smart campaign that educated voters with research and moving testimonials, especially from veterans that have been helped by psilocybin. Additionally, 109 called for a deliberate approach where the Oregon Health Authority would have a full two years to develop regulations for the licensed psilocybin system where adults can seek supervised treatment from trained facilitators.

The Oregon Health Authority has started accepting applications. Marijuana Moment caught up with Measure 109 campaign manager Sam Chapman, who I am proud to call a friend and colleague: “This is the beginning of the two-year process to ensure that Oregon creates a safe, effective and equitable psilocybin therapy program that effectively addresses the needs of Oregonians who are suffering from depression and anxiety. I look forward to working with the governor, legislature and the Oregon Health Authority to ensure that the therapy is affordable and that those who need it have access.”

If you have what the Oregon Health Authority is looking for, I urge you to apply. It is important that our state regulators have input from everyday Oregonians. Today is another day that I’m reminded that I am so fortunate to live in Oregon.

From OHA’s website:

November 30, 2020

The Office of Governor Brown is seeking applicants for the Oregon Psilocybin Advisory Board.

Established by Ballot Measure 109 (2020), the Oregon Psilocybin Advisory Board makes recommendations to the Oregon Health Authority 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.

OHA invites applications from people who meet the following criteria:

  • Local health officer.
  • Representative of a federally recognized Indian tribe.
  • Member of the OHA Addictions and Mental Health Planning and Advisory Council.
  • Member of the OHA Health Equity Policy Committee.
  • Member of the OHA Palliative Care and Quality of Life Interdisciplinary Advisory Council.
  • Individual who represents individuals who provide public health services.
  • Psychologist licensed under ORS chapter 675 who has professional experience engaging in the diagnosis or treatment of a mental, emotional, or behavioral condition.
  • Physician licensed under ORS chapter 677 who holds a degree of Doctor of Medicine.
  • Naturopathic physician licensed under ORS chapter 685.
  • Expert in the field of public health who has a background in academia.
  • Person who has professional experience conducting scientific research regarding the use of psychedelic compounds in clinical therapy.
  • Person who has experience in the field of mycology.
  • Person who has experience in the field of ethnobotany.
  • Person who has experience in the field of psychopharmacology.
  • Person who has experience in the field of psilocybin harm reduction.
  • Person representing the Oregon Liquor Control Commission who has experience working with the system developed and maintained by the commission under ORS 475B.177 for tracking the transfer of marijuana items.
  • Person representing the Oregon Department of Justice.
  • Member of the public.

To apply, submit the following documentation to executive.appointments@oregon.gov by Jan. 1, 2021:

  1. A completed executive appointment interest form, which is available on the Governor’s office website.
  2. A resume or brief biographical sketch.
  3. A brief statement of interest.

For more information, email oha.psilocybin@dhsoha.state.or.us or contact André Ourso, OHA Public Health Division, at 971-673-0404.

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VOTE!!! And then Come to Kind Leaf and Receive a Sticker with a Purchase!

By now, you’ve grown tired of all of the political ads across the airwaves and you’re certainly done with debates on social media. Oregonians, if you haven’t gotten your ballots in yet, be sure to get those ballots in soon to make sure that they get counted. Tuesday, October 27th, is the last day that you can safely mail in your ballot, so use a drop box after Tuesday. Personally, I urge you to vote YES on both Measure 109 and 110. Measure 109 will allow for medicinal psilocybin therapy while Measure 110 will end harmful drug possession arrests and set aside more than $100 million for more drug treatment and recovery services.

Oregon has been a pioneer on voting by mail and voting access in general, leading to high turnout rates compared to the rest of the nation and, thus far, there is record breaking turnout. Turnout is so great, that if you haven’t been bugged by a campaign volunteer yet, you soon will be. Get in your ballot and you’ll be taken off of campaign’s lists as they’ll know that your ballot has been returned.

The only bad thing about Oregon’s vote by mail system is that you don’t get an “I Voted” sticker like you do in other states. To reward yourself, and fellow voters that you care about, drop by Kind Leaf, make a purchase from the best cannabis selection in Oregon and you’ll get a limited edition sticker while supplies last! No matter how you vote, just be sure to vote and do your civic duty. To help you get through this election season, Kind Leaf will always be there for you.

Kind Leaf is a true, Oregonian small business that gives back to the local community. By supporting Kind Leaf, you are supporting Oregonians, particularly the local Pendleton area, not an out-of-state or multinational corporation. Kind Leaf always has great deals and offers discounts for seniors, veterans, OMMP patients, and for utilizing the curbside pick-up window.

Kind Leaf, Eastern Oregon’s premier craft cannabis boutique, has THE best selection in the state, if not the entire Great Northwest, if not the world. Come in and compare.

YES on Oregon Measure 109 to Allow Medical Psilocybin Therapy

Oregonians, if you haven’t turned in your ballot yet, this is my personal plea to vote YES on Measure 109 so our state can move forward with medical psilocybin therapy. Psilocybin therapy has shown promising results in treating anxiety and depression and the passage of 109 will make Oregon a pioneering leader on medical psilocybin, similar to how our great state was one of the early adopters of medicinal cannabis.

PBS reported on a study detailing the potential of “medical mushrooms” helping patients’ anxiety:

Dr. Stephen Ross, the psychiatrist who led the NYU study, says he knew nothing of that history until a colleague, Dr. Jeffrey Guss, brought it up just a few years ago. “When I took a closer look, it astounded me,” says Ross. “It involved some of the best psychiatric minds of the day, and it was a complete new paradigm of care, with the idea of mystical states at its core.”
While the notion of a “mystical state” sounds fuzzy, researchers have developed a scale, the Mystical Experience Questionnaire, or MEQ30, to try and quantify it.On the MEQ30, participants are asked questions such as whether they’ve had “experience of unity with the ultimate reality,” or “awareness of the life or living presence in all things.” In the recent studies, a higher score on the MEQ30 – more mystical, as it were – correlated strongly to improvement.

In an earlier study at Hopkins, a majority of healthy volunteers who took psilocybin rated the occasion among the five most meaningful experiences of their life. These people were simply spending the afternoon in a room at a medical clinic, accompanied by two near-strangers. And yet, the sense of deep meaning comes up again and again.

Folks unfamiliar with psilocybin really only need to be educated about the promising benefits of the treatment, as well as the relatively safety of it. Measure 109 take a very methodical, careful approach that phases in the psilocybin treatment system over a two year span. The 109 campaign has done a great job racking up some prominent mainstream support that has helped spread the word.

Some people experienced with psilocybin have expressed concerns to me about the regulations established and the fact that 109 doesn’t decriminalize personal use outside of a treatment facility. Those of us that have long understood the need to end the failed and futile War on Drugs can be upset about reform measures not going far enough, or by the implementation of regulations.

However, in my personal opinion, we need to move forward with proposals that improve upon the status quo. Measures that make the ballot are compromises that won’t please everyone that could potentially be supportive, but no major reform law is going to please everyone. Patients from all walks of life, including our veteran heroes suffering from post-traumatic stress, could use a new therapy, especially when pharmaceutical drugs haven’t helped them. Please vote YES on 109 and we can continue to work on improving the law over the coming years.