After years of rulemaking, Oregon is officially the first state in the nation with a functioning, legal system to obtain and use psilocybin.
On Friday, the Oregon Health Authority announced it had licensed EPIC Healing as the first psilocybin service provider in the state, completing the last point in a chain from growing psychedelic mushrooms to a person actually taking them.
Owner and licensed therapist Cathy Jonas told OPB that she received news of the approval earlier this week on her birthday.
“I felt that was a little bit of a cosmic birthday gift saying, ‘Hey, you’re doing the right thing,” she said.
Jonas already has around 60 people on a waitlist for the therapy and said she plans to work with about 30 patients a month her Eugene business. Jonas said the response has been overwhelming as she works to figure out logistics and accommodate as many people as she can. A man from the East Coast had flown to Oregon and was touring EPIC Healing when news broke it was approved to deliver psilocybin.
“What I’ve decided is that this will be the majority of my practice,” Jonas said. “This will be, for a while, the majority of my life.”
In its announcement, the health authority called the EPIC Healing licensure a “historic moment.”
Scientific research has increasingly shown that psychedelic therapy has the potential to help people work through mental health issues such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and end-of-life anxiety.
Oregon’s program does not require that a person have a diagnosed condition to access psilocybin, however. Under state rules, anyone 21 and older can obtain psilocybin services without a prescription or referral from a health care provider. Still, a person must complete at least one preparation session with someone who is licensed by the state to provide psilocybin.
After a preparation session, a person may have a follow-up session where they receive the drug. What those sessions will look like is certain to vary from provider to provider, though Jonas told OPB in March she wanted to have at least one preparation session with her clients in person.
Jonas previously told OPB she plans to offer a variety of options at her Eugene clinic, ranging from so-called “microdosing” sessions to larger doses that would provide a person with an hours-long experience. Her program would also require an “integration session,” a meeting where the patient talks through their mushroom experience and how to build that into their life after the session.
The approval of Jonas’s business follows the state approval of mushroom growers and the first testing laboratory in Oregon. As of Friday, the industry remains limited, with approvals for just three growers, a handful of facilitators, a single laboratory and Jonas to participate in the market. The number of people in each of those categories is anticipated to grow through the rest of the year.
Sam Chapman helped run the ballot measure campaign that legalized psilocybin in Oregon in 2020 and is now the executive director of the Healing Advocacy Fund, a nonprofit that promotes and educates about psilocybin in Oregon. In a statement, Chapman called Friday’s announcement a “watershed moment.”
”By the end of 2023, we anticipate at least a dozen service centers will be operating in Oregon, and that number will only grow over time,” he said.
The Oregon Health Authority estimates around 30 psilocybin-related businesses could open across the state by the end of 2025, and as many as 750 people could become licensed to administer psychedelic sessions.
So far, Jonas said, about half the people reaching out to her for treatment would be traveling from out of state. She’s been providing video call meetings to help prepare those people for the experience.
“We have a lot of people reaching out for service and it touches my heart deeply,” she said. Jonas expects she will likely provide her first psilocybin session to a patient in the next two weeks.
Cost is likely to remain a prohibitive factor for people seeking legal services in Oregon. Many providers who have spoken to OPB estimate their services could cost hundreds to thousands of dollars, due to a variety of regulations and federal tax laws around psilocybin, which remains federally illegal as a Schedule I substance.
As Willamette Week recently reported, the high cost of the legal system is already fueling an underground market in Oregon.