Psilocybin Services: Oregon’s Newest Industry Begins Popping Up

by Guy Tauer

October 19, 2023

One of Oregon’s most recent industries to come out of the dark and into the legal light is the psilocybin services industry, which is now permitted to operate in many areas of Oregon. The Oregon Psilocybin Services Section implements Ballot Measure 109 (now codified as ORS 475A). Passed in November 2020, the statute directs the Oregon Health Authority to license and regulate the manufacturing, transportation, delivery, sale, and purchase of psilocybin products and the provision of psilocybin services.

Psilocybin services are now an option in Oregon. Oregon voters in 2020 also decriminalized possession of hard drugs, cementing the state’s reputation as a leader in drug-law reform. Oregon was the first state to decriminalize marijuana possession and one of the first to legalize its recreational use. Colorado recently joined Oregon as the second state allow psilocybin regulated use. However, psilocybin is still a Schedule I substance under the Federal Controlled Substances Act.

What are the benefits of psilocybin? Research suggests psilocybin may help address depression, anxiety, trauma, and addiction. Studies have also found it can increase spiritual well-being. Another article mentions potential help with post-traumatic stress disorder and end-of-life related anxiety. The measure passed with 56% in favor and 44% opposed. In 25 counties in Oregon, the measure failed, and in many counties and communities this industry is still prohibited.

Where permitted, psilocybin services will be available to people ages 21 or older and will not require a prescription or medical referral. People accessing psilocybin services are called “clients”. There are four types of licenses the state issues: manufacturers who process or cultivate the psilocybin product; facilitators would support clients through preparation, administration, and integration sessions; services centers where the product is sold and consumed in a supported setting; and testing laboratories.

Oregon issued the state’s first psilocybin license in March 2023. Medford had received two applications already, one for a manufacturer and one for a service center, according to a story published by KDRV.com on March 22, 2023. In an article from the July 4, 2023, Rogue Valley Times, they note that the first psilocybin manufacturer in Southern Oregon, Satya, Inc., also opened the first licensed service center in Southern Oregon in mid-July 2023. In another published report from September 13, 2023, Moksha Journeys is partnering with Omnia Group in Ashland to run a first of its kind in the nation 28-day psilocybin-assisted recovery and retreat program.

Workers, Jobs, and Employment

In the traditional way of counting jobs by an industry’s employment based on a North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS) code, there are not specific industry codes for psilocybin manufacturers, testing labs, and services centers. As the regulatory agency overseeing this new sector of the economy, the Oregon Health Authority publishes the number of businesses in each of those categories who have either applied or been approved for a license in those categories. One company can also be licensed in multiple facets of the industry. Anyone working in any psilocybin services-related business must all obtain a worker permit. This administrative data can be thought of as a count of all individuals who could legally work in this industry but may not be currently employed or employed full-time in the industry. Permits are good for five years, so if someone no longer is working in that field during that period, the count of worker permits would not reflect that.

The most recent information from the beginning of October 2023 shows a total of four manufacturers; two testing laboratories; 11 services centers; and 131 licensed facilitators approved by the Oregon Health Authority. The Oregon Psilocybin Services facilitator licensee directory includes names and, in most cases, contact information for 52 of those facilitators. In addition to those businesses, a total of 297 worker permits have been issued, giving some look at how many might be working in this newly approved sector of Oregon’s economy.

Prospect for Growth

Unlike the cannabis sector, there is no avenue for someone to legally obtain or consume psilocybin products outside of this regulated environment. You won’t see mushroom-themed dispensaries in Oregon. The current number of psilocybin permitted workers lags in comparison to the number of active cannabis worker permits in Oregon, most recently around 57,400. The price of a psilocybin experience may be out of reach for many, as prices can run from several hundred to several thousand dollars depending on the service center, facilitator, and experience chosen.

Oregon’s new venture into psilocybin may open opportunities for fungi-based tourism into Oregon for those seeking this experience. With Oregon being an early implementer, it does present a competitive advantage for these services. As other states move to adopt more lenient laws regarding psilocybin, that competitive advantage could decline.  An article posted on abcnews.com September 14, 2023 notes that Epic Healing in Eugene has a waitlist of more than 3,000 names for their services. There is still an upward trend possible for this new sector. One of the challenges for new entrants into this field are the costs associated with obtaining a license. While worker permits only cost $25, manufacturers and service centers have annual license cost of $10,000, unless you meet certain criteria. As new players enter the market, what will this do to consumer costs of those services and the profitability for those businesses?

Psilocybin Facilitator – An Emerging Occupation

Of the nearly 300 worker permits issued for the psilocybin services industry, more than one-third were for the facilitator role or position required for clients to utilize these services. A licensed facilitator will be present with a client during the three components of psilocybin services, which include a preparation session, administration session, and integration sessions. Oregon law requires a non-directive approach to psilocybin services, meaning that facilitators will support clients through psilocybin services without directing the client experience. Many individuals who currently hold professional licenses in Oregon may be interested in becoming licensed facilitators. An individual should work with their professional licensing boards for further guidance on any risks associated with being licensed.

License Requirements:

  • Must be 21 years of age or older.
  • Must have a high school diploma or equivalent.
  • Must be an Oregon resident (please note, this requirement expires in 2025).
  • Must pass a criminal background check.
  • Must complete a psilocybin facilitator training program with a curriculum approved by Oregon Psilocybin Services prior to applying for licensure.
  • Must pass an exam administered by Oregon Psilocybin Services.

Psilocybin facilitator applicants need to pay a $150 application fee. If approved for licensure, facilitators are required to pay an annual licensure fee of $2,000. Applicants who are veterans, receiving social security income, receiving food stamp benefits, or are enrolled in the Oregon Health Plan may qualify for a reduced annual licensure fee of $1,000.

As the industry matures and we obtain more information about companies who are in this sector, we’ll try to flag those businesses as psilocybin-related to be able to publish more complete data regarding wage and employment trends for this industry, as we have attempted to do for cannabis-related businesses.

To find out more details you can go to the Oregon Health Authority website at https://www.oregon.gov/oha/Pages/index.aspx, then choose the “public health” tab and select “prevention and wellness” and scroll down to “Psilocybin Services” or go directly to: https://www.oregon.gov/oha/PH/PREVENTIONWELLNESS/Pages/oregon-psilocybin-services.aspx.

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