So far, just three psilocybin service centers—offices where people can go on legal mushroom trips—have been licensed by the state of Oregon.
That’s bad news for law-abiding people itching to avail themselves of the much-advertised benefits of psilocybin: relief from depression, alcoholism, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and end-of-life dread.
It’s also bad news for taxpayers, who may soon find themselves underwriting a shroom system that was supposed to pay for itself.
Proponents of Measure 109, the initiative that created Oregon’s legal psilocybin program, designed it to be funded by fees, not taxpayer dollars, so it would be palatable to more voters. Service centers, mushroom growers, and psilocybin testing labs are all required to pay $10,000 a year for their licenses. Facilitators, the people who sit with tripping subjects and guide them into the psychosphere, pay $2,000 a year.
The problem is that very few people are getting licenses of any kind to cover the cost of running the Oregon Health Authority’s Psilocybin Services unit, in large part because of the high fees. Very few licensees means very little fee revenue, which means the state has to find cash someplace else to keep the program running.
That other place could be the state’s general fund. OHA has asked for $6.6 million to fill the program’s budget gap for the fiscal biennium starting July 1, according to a 13-page “policy option package,” or POP, that’s now sitting in the Legislature (Salem budgets two years at a time).
“Without the additional funding, the sustainability of the work would be jeopardized,” OHA says in the POP document. “There would be insufficient staff to continue to implement the regulatory program, review license applications and conduct licensure inspections. Consequently, psilocybin businesses seeking licensure could experience financial hardship.”