On November 3, 2020, Oregonians made history by passing two groundbreaking measures, 109 and 110, that have significant impacts on the state’s approach to mental health and drug use.
Measure 109, also known as the Oregon Psilocybin Services Act, provides state-sanctioned access to psilocybin-assisted therapy, legalizing the compound found in medicinal magic mushrooms in supervised settings.
Measure 110, on the other hand, decreases penalties for drug possession in the state of Oregon, allowing for funds to be reallocated from law enforcement to addiction treatment programs.
These measures represent some of the most progressive policies of their kind in the country, and their passage is a testament to the growing interest in the therapeutic benefits of psychedelics.
When it comes to psychedelic facilitators and providers, they are not all equal. It is important to understand what different options are available to Oregon residents who are searching for psychedelic-assisted therapy.
In this article, we will review the most important elements of Measure 109 and Measure 110, address pitfalls and regulations, and discuss how to be aware in making a decision about your psilocybin therapy experience.
An Overview of Measures 109 & 110
Measure 109 legalizes the use of medicinal psilocybin for people 21 and older under the supervision of licensed facilitators in approved facilities. This measure does not allow for recreational use of psilocybin or for its use in public spaces. It also prohibits the manufacture and sale of psilocybin by anyone other than licensed manufacturers and centers.
The Measure was founded on the fact that Oregon has one of the highest rates of mental illness in the United States, with 1 in 5 adults having a mental health condition. The goal is to provide an alternative form of treatment for individuals who have not responded to traditional therapies.
Secondly, the Measure acknowledges that psilocybin has shown in research that it is a safe and efficace treatment for a variety of mental health conditions, including anxiety disorders and depression.
Other significant results have shown that psilocybin is effective in treating end-of-life distress and addiction, which are particularly important for Oregon’s current public health crises. The goals of Measure 109 are to include education on mental health treatment options, decrease mental illness in the state, and provide affordable, accessible, and safe treatments.
Measure 110, on the other hand, takes a broader approach to drug addiction by decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of drugs, including cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine.
Small amounts of drugs will no longer result in criminal charges but instead result in a fine of $100, which can be waived if the person agrees to attend a health assessment, shifting the attention to harm reduction.
One of the goals of Measure 110 is to reorient funds spent on law enforcement power toward matters that best serve the welfare of Oregon residents. One way in which the Measure pledged to do this is through using the funds that are saved from this change and from marijuana sales revenue to create a “new drug addiction treatment and recovery grant program.”
The information shared in this article is of the sole purpose of discussing Oregon Measure 109 and Measure 110 from an information, public policy, and harm reduction standpoint. This article should not be misconstrued as legal advice. The reader is responsible for any actions or risks taken. Stay informed about the safety and risks around therapeutic psychedelic use.
Regardless of state decriminalization and policy, psychedelic drugs are illegal according to federal law. Measures 109 and 110 focused on decriminalizing psychedelics at the state level only.
Systems, Models, and Expected Timelines
November 3, 2020 marked the date of the passing of both measures, however, it wasn’t until January 2, 2023 that the program truly began. As part of these measures, there was an agreed upon “two year development program period” in which, during this time, no licensure could be permitted to service centers, manufacturers, testing entities, or facilitators.
According to Measure 109, the entire regulatory program would be formed over the two year period by an appointed entity known as ‘The Oregon Health Authority’ and an advisory board.
During the two years, the Authority and Advisory Board would create regulations governing the use of psilocybin in therapy by addressing issues such as dosage, duration, and the qualifications and training of facilitators. Consequently, review of applicants for licensure began on January 2, 2023 as well as training for accepted facilitators and service centers.
The Oregon Health Authority accomplishes three things within the regulatory framework:
- to provide and publish research for the public and ensure that persons 21 in age and older can receive regulated psilocybin treatment
- to permit licensed persons to manufacture psilocybin & provide a regulatory framework for manufacturing and administering
- to prevent distribution of psilocybin products to persons not permitted, including those who are under 21
They anticipate that psilocybin service centers will be open to clients and facilitators this year, although an exact date is unknown and there are doubts that this will happen as quickly as forecasted.
Regulations on Possession, Use, & Distribution
Measure 110 reduces penalties for non-commercial drug offenses in the state of Oregon, changing felony offenses to Class A misdemeanors and misdemeanor offenses to Class E violations.
Possessing small amounts of drugs, as determined by parameters set in Measure 110, results in a Class E violation, punishable by a $100 fine or completion of a health assessment at an Addiction Recovery Center. Class A misdemeanor for large possession charges is punishable by 364 days of imprisonment and/or a fine up to $6,250.
After February 1, 2021, Measure 110 eliminates criminal penalties such as arrest, probation, or parole for possession of small amounts of drugs. It also prohibits the denial of public assistance, housing, or employment based on drug convictions.
The Oregon Psilocybin Advisory Board will be responsible for addressing issues related to the use of psilocybin in therapy and ensuring that discrimination or inequity in medical treatment does not occur.
Oregon Measures 109 and 110 are not retroactive, meaning that they do not apply to any previous convictions or charges for drug possession or psilocybin-related offenses.
Measure 109 also does not include specific provisions regarding probation, parole, child rearing, or public assistance, but these elements might be addressed by the Advisory Board later in the process of development.
Regulations on Professional Licensure
Measure 109 requires that psilocybin therapy be conducted by licensed facilitators who have completed a training program approved by the Oregon Health Authority or be a licensed healthcare professional.
Requirements to become a facilitator:
- must be 21+
- must be a resident of Oregon for 2+ years
- must have positive legal standing with the state and be a reputable and good citizen
- must have a high school diploma or equivalent
- must complete 200 hours of education and training prescribed and approved by the program, including
- 160 hours of coursework
- 40 hours of practicum, which currently consists of breathwork or ketamine sessions (because there are no service centers in operation currently)
- must pass a determined examination for graduation of program
- must complete 200 hours of education and training prescribed and approved by the program, including
- must annually renew facilitator license, including fees for renewal and licensure
The Oregon Health Authority is prohibited from requiring further education, such as a degree from university, college, or post-secondary education. As discussed in our podcast episode, Psychedelic Therapy in Oregon: The Flaws & Limitations of Measure 109, this is possibly to allow for inclusion and accessibility for indigenous, shamanic, and low income practitioners.
Comparing Oregon Measures to Colorado Prop 122
On November 8, 2022, the personal use of psilocybin, DMT, ibogaine, and mescaline was decriminalized in the state of Colorado through the passing of Colorado Prop 122, also known as the Natural Medicine Health Act. In the state-regulated model, however, “natural medicines” apply only to psilocybin and psilocin.
This decentralized community healing model includes possession, sharing, ingestion, cultivation, processing, and purchase of natural psychedelics for personal and communal healing purposes. Interestingly, in the personal model, peyote and peyote-derived mescaline were not included, but only mescaline derived from other cacti species.
In previous podcast episodes, we interviewed Joshua Kappel, chair of the campaign committee of the Natural Medicine Health Act, to get an inside take on the new regulations in Colorado.
Similar to Measures 109 and 110, Colorado’s Prop 122 limits use to persons 21 years or older. However, Prop 122 allows for use in non-therapeutic settings and is retroactive, meaning it applies to past convictions and pending cases.
Like the measures, it prohibits denial of public assistance, housing, or employment based on drug use, but Prop 122 goes further by offering civil protections surrounding probation, parole, child rearing and medical equity.
Like Oregon’s measures, enrollment isn’t limited to psychotherapists or psychiatrists and the prerequisite requirements for anyone seeking to enroll in the facilitator training program under Prop 122 are minimal.
Differences in Regulation Surrounding Therapeutic Licensure and Use:
- Facilitators don’t have to operate strictly in a healing center in order to service psychedelic journeys. They have the freedom to create their own facilitator network under Prop 122.
- How many training hours required under Prop 122’s program are still to be determined as well as how the state will address mandates for creating an equitable program.
- Prop 122 mandates a tiered training program, outlining different licensing levels based on experience and credentials. This will help better pair journeyers with appropriate facilitators for their needs.
- A screening program for ranking healing centers was created based on employee payment, benefits, energy use and environmental standards, called Environmental Social Governance (ESG).
- Under Colorado Prop 122, natural medicine services can be provided both at a private residence or in a healthcare facility through the regulatory framework or community model.
Potential Pitfalls in the Oregon Measures
For some, the lack of formal education required by Prop 122, can be alarming. It can be argued that some people entering the field will not have the skills required to hold such raw and vulnerable space for another human being.
On the flip side though, the flexibility of Proposition 122 opens up doors for people from all different backgrounds including indigenous and spiritual/religious lineages as well as mental health professionals.
Unlike Oregon measures, Proposition 122 doesn’t allow local governments to ban healing centers from operating in their jurisdiction, but they are allowed to create zoning regulations.
7 Potential Pitfalls in Oregon Measures 109 & 110
- Limited Accessibility
Measure 109’s requirement that psilocybin therapy only be conducted in licensed psilocybin centers could limit access to therapy for some patients, particularly those who live in rural areas or cannot afford the cost of therapy.
In the case of therapeutic microdosing, having to travel to a center as many as 5 times in one week is impractical and expensive. You can’t just go buy medicinal mushrooms and journey in the comfort of your own home as a result of the passing of Measure 109; You have to buy a service.
Overall, with Measure 109, it currently fails to include at-home dosing options for those who can’t travel or afford therapy sessions. There is a possibility that, as the program evolves, they will include at-home prescription programs, but as we will see with these pitfalls, many people are not holding out hope.
- Limited Protections
Some argue that these Measures fail to go far enough in addressing the root causes of drug use and addiction, such as poverty, trauma, and lack of access to healthcare. While these Measures are a step forward, no doubt, it may not be enough to address the serious mental illness crisis in the state given that the crisis extends beyond the scope of the current program.
- The Bar is Low for Facilitators
When psychedelic medicine was used in indigenous cultures and practices, guides were mentored by elder shamans before becoming guides themselves. The process was a lineage and tradition. With the current measures being established, there is a very low bar for who is qualified to facilitate a psychedelic therapy session.
As you may have noticed, personal experience or trip-sitting experience with psychedelic medicines is not required before licensure. The idea that 160 hours of coursework and 40 hours of breathwork or unrelated ketamine sessions could prepare someone for the delicate and significant job of holding space for a journeyer is a grave misconception.
None of these experiences reflect the power and intensity of a psilocybin journey, and in this model, someone needs more experience to get licensed as a barber than to become a psilocybin therapist. Sadly, the repercussions of a bad haircut and an adverse psychedelic experience are vastly different, and clients will be the ones who are most affected by this.
In spite of Measures 109 and 110 being founded on the desire to decrease mental illness, they fail to establish a system in which serious conditions, such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, can be adequately supported.
Furthermore, there is no human vetting element to licensure according to this model. Even college admissions require interviews to evaluate the intangibles of how well a candidate aligns with the environment. If the requirements for licensure aren’t backed by real experience with the medicine, is this really a safe way to ensure qualification for such a delicate role?
- Discrepancies on Verbiage
There seems to be a misnomer in regards to treatments under Measure 109 being called “psychedelic-assisted therapy,” because “therapy” is usually a shorthand for psychotherapy. Given that in this model, facilitators are not required to be licensed therapists, this could inevitably lead to confusion on the part of clients who are seeking a traditional therapist or therapy.
While this may allow for a broadening of meaning for the word “therapy,” and certainly doesn’t mean that only therapists should be able to conduct psychedelic facilitation, it does highlight the importance of clarity with verbiage.
- Difficulty in Vetting Facilitators
According to Measure 109, facilitators are not required to be directly employed by any service center, but rather, will use centers as a space to conduct treatments and be supplied with psilocybin.
What this means for potential journeyers is that it may be difficult to personally screen your guide if only information and reviews are available on the center itself and not the guide, especially if your in a tough mental health space.
It may be difficult to separate facilitators at different experience levels, and really having the right facilitator for your vulnerable experience is of the utmost importance beyond finding a clinic nearby with a desirable setting.
- Hands-Off Approach
The state is basically staying out of the process after this Measure was passed, so any changes in rules will only come after litigation or real world adverse outcomes. Given the nuance of this work and the lack of meaningful requirements, quick and proactive changes need to be made to prevent adverse outcomes rather than retroactively doing damage control.
- Lack of Standardization in Training
Another element not outlined in Measure 109 is how they will standardize the training protocol decided by the Oregon Health Authority and Advisory Board. While a core syllabus will likely be doled out to training entities, it is uncertain how discrepancies in training quality will be addressed.
Making Mindful Decisions as The Journeyer
Just because the program will be state-sanctioned does not mean that the quality or safety of your experience will be ensured, and therapeutic psychedelic experiences have the potential to change your life.
As we have seen with the pitfalls and oversights of these measures, journeyers need to exercise discretion when deciding what avenue is best for their psychedelic therapy treatment. We encourage you to be your own biggest advocate! There are a lot of unknown and moving parts when it comes to Oregon’s new mission to bring psilocybin therapy to its residents.
- Think about what you want your experience to look like. Do you want your session in a clinic-like space or at home? What kind of space and ambiance do you want? Do you want support around preparation and integration?
- Think about the type of support you need. Do you need a highly trained and experienced facilitator or therapist, or just someone who you feel comfortable and safe with?
- Get an idea of your intentions prior to meeting with facilitators. These don’t have to be grand or complex. Get specific and think about one or two things you want to accomplish through this experience.
- Know your options. Even though it may feel like a state-licensed center is your only option for an intentional psychedelic experience in Oregon, there are other options available for expertly facilitated, at-home treatments.
- Decide on a guide that feels the most aligned. Arguably the most important part of planning your journey is deciding on a facilitator. Be sure not to focus entirely on certification or licensure, failing to consider if they have reputable experience and resonate with you individually.
- Prepare a series of questions to help when vetting facilitators. Ask about their history, experience, approach, responsiveness, availability for additional support and any other questions that are relevant to you.
Overall, the intentions behind Oregon Measures 109 and 110 are of good intentions and are a historical step toward more progressive regulations around psychedelic medicine.
We want to encourage seekers to be their own biggest advocate and not feel a false sense of security around these new measures given that journeyers deserve sacred, healthy, and safe ways to be supported in a deep way.
We at Psychedelic Passage connect a network of pre-vetted facilitators to clients looking to have a safe and transformative intentional psychedelic experience. Even though we do not connect clients with state-licensed facilitators, we have a vigorous vetting process for facilitators, who are located all over the country.
With a professional facilitator, journeyers are offered a more holistic, at-home ceremonial approach with a guide who specializes in harm-reduction and has real experience with psychedelic medicines and sitting for those on medicines.
If you are seeking deep support for your medicinal psychedelic journey, book a consultation with our call-takers today. And if you are looking for more information on psychedelic therapy, check out our resources page.
We hope that these new regulations are ushering in a time when people can safely explore the healing tools available to them, especially now, when we need it more than ever. Safe journeys!