A pair of measures involving psychedelics were approved by voters in their respective jurisdictions on Tuesday night.
Passage of Measure 109 in Oregon authorizes the Oregon Health Authority to create the Oregon Psilocybin Services Program, which will license facilities to produce, administer and sell psilocybin mushroom and fungi products to individuals at least 21 years of age. OHA will determine who is eligible to be licensed as a facilitator, as well as necessary qualifications, education, training and exams, and create code of professional conduct for facilitators. OHA will also be responsible for setting psilocybin dosage standards, as well as labeling and packaging requirements. The state will have two years to develop the program.
In Washington, D.C., Initiative 81 passed, thus decriminalizing non-commercial cultivation, distribution, possession and use of a range of psychedelic plants and fungi.
Andrew Penn, RN, MS, NP, CNS, APRN-BC, a Psych Congress Steering Committee member, associate clinical professor at the University of California, San Francisco, and attending nurse practitioner at the San Francisco Veterans Administration, says the passage of Measure 109 in Oregon in particular serves as a notice to clinics in all states to take a closer look at the potential benefits and possible risks associated with psychedelics.
“Regardless of how we as clinicians feel about their use, they are being used by our patients, and this is likely only to increase in the future,” Penn says. “Clinicians need to learn how to minimize harm and maximize benefit from the personal use of psychedelics by helping our most vulnerable patients (i.e. those with psychotic disorders or strong family histories) avoid them; to advise that the drugs come from trusted sources and are tested for adulterants; to advise that they be used in a safe setting and with a sober guide; and that after the experience, they work with a knowledgeable person to integrate the psychedelic experience.
“Clinicians may feel uncomfortable with what they see as an endorsement of their use when in reality, this is the best, and most realistic advocacy that we can provide for our patients.”
Rakesh Jain, Psych Congress Steering Committee member and clinical professor in the University of Texas Medical School Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, calls the passage of Measure 109 in Oregon “very significant” in terms of reducing demonization around the use of psilocybin. He adds that while he is “cautiously optimistic” about the creation of Oregon’s program, it will require clinicians to have a significantly heightened awareness around people experiencing adverse reactions to psychedelics and be prepared to help them deal with them. That sentiment is echoed by Saundra Jain, MA, PsyD, LPC, Psych Congress Steering Committee member and adjunct clinical affiliate at the University of Texas at Austin School of Nursing.
“The benefits of psychedelics are being appreciated by the citizenry of Oregon,” Saundra Jain says. “While I am pleased with this forward movement, I would remind people that these are very powerful medications, and using them carefully and judiciously will avoid harm and enhance benefits.”