SALEM, Ore. (Sept. 26, 2023) – The country’s first legalized psychedelic mushroom service in Oregon opened in June despite the ongoing federal prohibition of psilocybin, and there are already thousands of potential clients on a waiting list.
Eugene Psychedelic Integrative Center (EPIC Healing Eugene) provides “transformational psychedelic facilitation in our safe, nurturing space,” for patients dealing with conditions including PTSD, depression, and end-of-life dread. According to an AP report, the center’s waiting list has already grown to over 3,000 patients.
“This can be a life-changing opportunity for many people’s health and well-being,” Oregon Psilocybin Services Program manager Angela Allbee said. “It gives communities a health and wellness option that might better align with their cultural needs.”
Opening the Door
In 2020, voters passed a ballot measure making Oregon the first state to create a legal framework for the medical use of “magic mushrooms” despite federal prohibition. Under the law, the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) was directed to establish a program to license medical practitioners to provide psilocybin to patients 21 or older. Clients can legally purchase, possess, and consume psilocybin at a “psilocybin service center” under the supervision of a licensed “psilocybin service facilitator.” The OHA determines the qualifications for “facilitators” and patients.
EPIC was the first center to open under the new law.
Psilocybin is a hallucinogenic compound found in certain mushrooms. A number of studies have shown psilocybin to be effective in the treatment of depression, PTSD, chronic pain and addiction. For instance, a Johns Hopkins study found that “psilocybin produces substantial and sustained decreases in depression and anxiety in patients with life-threatening cancer.”
Other states have followed Oregon’s lead. In 2022, Colorado voters passed a ballot measure decriminalizing several naturally occurring psychedelic substances, and at least 14 cities including Detroit, Michigan have decriminalized “magic mushrooms.”
Most recently, the California legislature passed a bill that would legalize several naturally occurring psychedelic drugs, including “magic mushrooms.” It is awaiting action from Gov. Gavin Newsom.
Psychedelic decriminalization and legalization efforts at the state and local levels are moving forward despite the federal government’s prohibition of psilocybin and other psychedelic substances.
Under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) passed in 1970, the federal government maintains the complete prohibition of psilocybin. Of course, the federal government lacks any constitutional authority to ban or regulate the substance within the borders of a state, despite the opinion of the politically connected lawyers on the Supreme Court. If you doubt this, ask yourself why it took a constitutional amendment to institute federal alcohol prohibition.
In effect, the passage of state and local measures legalizing psilocybin, or allowing its regulated use, ends at least some criminal enforcement of laws prohibiting it. As we’ve seen with marijuana and hemp, when states and localities stop enforcing laws banning a substance, the federal government finds it virtually impossible to maintain prohibition. For instance, FBI statistics show that law enforcement makes approximately 99 of 100 marijuana arrests under state, not federal law. By curtailing or ending state prohibition, states sweep part of the basis for 99 percent of marijuana arrests.
Furthermore, figures indicate it would take 40 percent of the DEA’s yearly annual budget just to investigate and raid all of the dispensaries in Los Angeles – a single city in a single state. That doesn’t include the cost of prosecution either. The lesson? The feds lack the resources to enforce marijuana prohibition without state and local assistance, and the same will likely hold true with other drugs.
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