Recently, the Oregon mushroom industry finally opened, after years of waiting and speculation. And now patrons can legally walk in for treatment. Even better, one site created a structure to give free mushroom treatments to those in need, but who lack funds. Learn more about how the facility is doing this, and how it benefits the community
Oregon mushroom industry finally open
We’ve been talking about this one for awhile now. In 2020, Oregon put Measure 109 before voters to legalize the limited recreational use of psilocybin mushrooms. It passed with 55.57% of the population giving it a yes vote. The legalization has many stipulations attached in terms of where its legal to use mushrooms, and how; and it only accounts for the Psilocybe cubensis species of mushroom, no others. But it’s the first system put forth in the US, and its now in use.
The legalization technically began on January 1st, but as it’s an industry that 100% relies on facilitators, and as none were approved at that time, the industry was dormant for many months. This holdup was in part because even though the state legalized use of the mushrooms, their production and sale required further legislation that wasn’t ironed out enough for the facilitators-in-training to actually have access to them.
This meant more of a role-playing scenario in training, which isn’t quite the same as dealing with a person actively on a psychedelic. All of the trainees, incidentally, paid about $10,000 for the training according to the New York Times. As of yet, it seems all aspects of this new industry are pricey, from the regulation for providers, to facilitator training, to the treatments themselves.
In early May, things got going more when the state began giving out licenses to therapy centers. The first to get one was Eugene Psychedelic Integration Center (EPIC); which at the time released a dismaying pay structure that indicated users would have to pay out thousands to get treatment. Founder Cathy Rosewell Jonas explained that the high pricing was mostly due to very high regulatory fees, which are indeed much higher than other industries, whether they use medical facilities or not. How much must clients pay? At least $2,800 for a single session.
As of right now, there are a total of eight operational centers with licenses (according to Willamette Week), and the industry is up and running. As per Jonas, when her licensing came through, she already had a waitlist of 60 people looking for treatment, and an expectation to treat about 30 per month.
Bendable Therapy provides free mushroom treatments to those in need
The industry is new, and generally expensive. We knew that it would be for sure since Jonas got her license. However, there is one facility thus far, which already instituted a policy to help those in need, get free mushroom treatments; even if they can’t afford the high pricing. Perhaps this model will die out if abused, and perhaps it foreshadows the direction of the industry in general.
Bend, Oregon is home to the only licensed facility that gives mushroom treatments for free. Called Bendable Therapy, the clinic isn’t looking to give out product for nothing, but is understanding that many in need simply can’t pay the price. The nonprofit organization is specifically designed to get the needed therapy to those who require it most. Regardless of ability to pay.
They do this by asking for donations from those who cannot make full payments. The hoped-for amount is about equal to a single treatment session, at $2,300, but is understandably less for some. The facility gives out a donation form, with a sliding scale, and asks that people pay what they can realistically afford to pay.
Amanda Gow, the co-founder for Bendable Therapy, is hoping that good results propel users to donate more. She hopes their good experiences and outcomes, lead to more giving behavior. As she said, per Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB), “We have a sliding scale donation form. And I say: ‘Here are our parameters. You tell me what you can afford to donate’. I think once people go through the program and they see, ‘Oh this is life-changing,’ that maybe they will become monthly donors.”
She explained previously via CentralOregonDaily, “We’re really focused on working with folks who have an existing mental health practice but are seeking psilocybin as a step on their mental wellness journey.” Gow continued that the pricing is indeed $2,300 a pop, but that for those in need, the price is dropped in place of a request for a donation. She explained, “We seek donations from community members, from participants, from corporations and large donors to help cover this cost, to defer this financial burden.”
I cover this story so people know it exists. So that those who need help, might be able to get it; whether they are in the area, or can manage to get there. For the majority who cannot, sometimes its simply nice to know there are good programs and organizations that truly want to help. Likewise, there are some pretty awesome people, with inventive ways of making it happen. Gow’s set-up is interesting because, as part of it, the idea is immediately not just to help oneself, but to pay it forward to others.
The same article details a specific case of an Arizona man who went to Oregon for free mushroom treatments at this facility; and who now donates monthly to the cause. This man says the treatment helped him greatly. He is one of the first people to go on record about his experience, as this is a very new market.
Black market and state funding for magic mushroom industry
At the same time that the legal market is growing, so is something else. It seems the understanding of high prices in legal markets, coupled with the new positive attention on the mushrooms and their therapeutic aspect; have combined to expand out the already existent black market, according to another Willamette Week article. This is perhaps, expected.
Mushroom use was always around, both in ceremonial and recreational capacities. They’ve been a popular drug in the US for recreational use, since the 60’s; before they were made illegal in 1970 via the Controlled Substances Act. However, whereas they were popular in a smaller segment before, they now have the attention of a wider population. Many people want the medical benefit they might provide, but not at the price point of legal providers. And so, the black market has new customers. Considering the slow pace of the legal market, probably a lot.
This is similar to the cannabis industry, which has consistently suffered from high taxes and regulatory costs, making it hard to compete with the lower-priced black market. The black market uses the products and technological advancements of the legal industry, to propel itself along; meaning the legal market has helped the black market grow.
Another current mushroom issue deals with funding for the program. Though the industry was supposed to be self-supported, according to Measure 9; it seems this was updated. The August 30th Willamette Week, reported that the Psilocybin Services Agency only earned $318,419 in fees thus far. This is likely due to slow processing, more than there not being an interest. But it still means the income is only trickling in. As the program was expected to cost $3.1 million yearly, the government has allocated that amount, for two years; which started in July. The program is now receiving government funds.
According to the Oregon Health Authority via spokesperson Afiq Hisham: “It takes time to build a new section in state government and to become 100% fee-based, specifically because ORS 475A is the nation’s first regulatory framework for psilocybin services and required an intensive two-year development period.”
So there you have it. The Oregon mushroom industry is up and running. If you’ve been waiting for this industry to finalize, and want to get started, contact one of the operational facilities. I’d link to a list, but unfortunately I can’t find one. I expect (and really hope) that Oregon’s Psilocybin Services will initiate something better than this in the future.
And, if you’re financially strapped but think mushroom treatments might change your life for the better; check out Bendable Therapy first to see if you qualify for free mushroom treatments. Just remember, when you’ve been helped, please pay it forward to others in need.
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