Oregon now boasts some of the most liberal drug laws in the United States, voting last November to legalize psilocybin use in therapy and to also decriminalize small amounts of all drugs. Now, a state government established advisory board in the state has released a new report that states psilocybin could be an effective tool in treating a variety of psychiatric conditions.
The report was authored by the Oregon Psilocybin Evidence Review Writing Group. It consisted of eight researchers and experts in the fields of botany, psychiatry, epidemiology, public health and neuroscience, and group members reviewed 632 studies, all performed on humans and with psilocybin administered in a clinical setting.
The group specifically named depression, anxiety disorders and substance use disorders as conditions that could potentially benefit from psilocybin therapies, saying psilocybin is “efficacious in reducing depression and anxiety” and that it “may be efficacious in reducing problematic alcohol and tobacco use.”
Researchers highlighted that most study participants reported their experiences with psilocybin were positive, specifically, “Across studies, psilocybin increases spiritual well-being which may mediate other observed benefits. Study participants also commonly rate their psilocybin experiences as highly meaningful.”
According to the report, 67 percent of participants with major depressive disorder achieved remission at one week and 42 percent maintained their remission at three months.
The report comes following the state’s recent alterations surrounding drug legislation, with the state’s passing of Measure 109, the Oregon Psilocybin Services Act, which 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” following a two-year development period ending in 2022.
Measure 109’s passing didn’t come out of nowhere. In 2019, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave psilocybin a “breakthrough therapy” designation for treating depression and anxiety. The designation helps to expedite the clinical testing process of drugs with significant preliminary evidence supporting its medicinal use.
The report ends with a list of 11 recommendations for the Oregon Health Authority, including the creation of an “ongoing review” of psilocybin research, considering cultivation methods in the development of the regulatory framework and developing a screening process to identify possible contaminants.
Officials agree that these recommendations will ultimately greatly benefit Oregonians.
“It’s a very exciting opportunity to be a part of something that can alleviate the suffering of so many people,” Andre Ourson, administrator for the Center for Health Protection, told KOIN 6 News. “It’s something that we do in public health. We want to better the health of Oregonians and this measure is just another tool to do that.”
While the report could help the state press forward in the research and safe use of psilocybin, some are more hesitant to step on the gas. Mason Marks, a member of the Oregon Advisory Board for Psilocybin, addressed the board’s report specifically with Marijuana Moment, “Though the board’s first report is useful, I would recommend that regulators hold off on incorporating these findings into their policy recommendations until additional research has been completed by the board.”
Oregon is the first state to both decriminalize psilocybin and legalize it for therapeutic use. Denver, CO was the first city to decriminalize psilocybin back in May 2019; Oakland and Santa Cruz, CA followed suit later in the year; and Washington DC, Somerville, MA and Cambridge, MA have since decriminalized psilocybin as well.
In the current stages, it will likely be at least another year or more before Oregon begins to roll out treatment procedures and options in regard to psilocybin, and even when that happens, psilocybin will not be available for recreational use. It will only be administered in a safe, well-regulated and therapeutic environment.
Oregon also began the process of looking into psilocybin mushroom “service centers,” essentially as dispensaries for medicinal psilocybin products, though advisory board members are aware psilocybin is not your “standard” drug and anticipate regulating it will look different than the regulation of many other legal or decriminalized substances.
The use, sale and possession of psilocybin is still illegal under United States federal law.