Legal magic mushroom therapy in Salem is likely months away from being available — but the city’s first entrepreneurs in the new market are scouting locations and getting ready.
The Oregon Health Authority on Monday opened permit applications for psilocybin service centers, manufacturing facilities, labs and facilitators after spending nearly a year developing rules outlining how the new market will function.
“We’re true believers in psilocybin and the outcomes we’ve seen in our personal lives and around us, and we’re excited to offer it to the community and kind of be at the forefront of it,” said Erica Plumb, owner of Salem marijuana retailer Preserve Oregon, who applied with her business partners to open a psilocybin service center in Salem.
Here’s a guide to what’s ahead for Salem and Oregon.
Can I buy psilocybin legally in Oregon?
Not yet — and once it’s available, the market won’t look like recreational marijuana.
Oregon voters in 2020 approved Measure 109, legalizing production and consumption of psilocybin at supervised sites only.
Oregon marijuana laws allow anyone 21 or older to go into a dispensary and buy cannabis products to use at home as they see fit.
Unlike marijuana, which was legalized for retail sales in 2015, psilocybin can only be purchased at state-regulated service centers and must be consumed on-site with a trained facilitator present.
Manufacturers of psilocybin can only sell their product to licensed service centers. Customers must consume what they buy on-site and cannot leave the premises with the drug.
It’s what the measure’s petitioners called a medical or therapeutic model for the drug’s use, though facilitators are not required to have any particular medical background of training beyond completing a state-approved training course. Anyone 21 or older can seek out psilocybin treatment at a center, with no medical diagnosis required.
State rules also regulate how long someone must remain at the center after consuming psilocybin, from a minimum of half an hour for repeat clients taking less than 2.5 milligrams (often called a microdose) up to six hours for clients consuming 35 to 50 milligrams. Clients can’t drive or bike after a session.
Outside of state-approved service centers, psilocybin possession remains illegal in Oregon, though possession of less than 12 grams of the drug was decriminalized when Oregon voters approved Measure 110 in 2020.
Are psilocybin businesses allowed in Salem?
Voters in Marion and Polk counties elected in November to ban psilocybin service centers, manufacturers and labs, but those bans apply only to facilities in unincorporated areas of the two counties. Cities get to set their own rules.
Many cities in Marion and Polk counties, including Keizer, also voted to ban psilocybin facilities in November. Salem did not have a ban on the ballot for city voters. The result is that Salem is one of the few locations in the mid-Willamette Valley where the drug will be available.
How do psilocybin businesses get approved?
The Oregon Health Authority approves license applications and is responsible for ensuring psilocybin businesses are following the law, but cities also have a small role to play.
Before a psilocybin business can seek a state license, they need a thumbs up from the city or county where the business will be located. The one-page form asks the city to certify that the business meets local land use regulations.
In Salem, psilocybin service centers and testing labs are considered “outpatient medical services and laboratories” and allowed in zones where those facilities are permitted, which includes commercial areas, said Lisa Anderson-Ogilvie, city planning administrator.
Manufacturing facilities are considered an agricultural use in Salem, and are allowed in most zones, but prohibited in residential areas, Anderson-Ogilvie said.
State regulations also specify psilocybin facilities can’t be located within 1,000 feet of a school or in an exclusively residential area.
Once a business gets city approval, they can apply to OHA for licensure. The license application requires a $500 non-refundable fee. Licensees pay an annual fee of $10,000, or $5,000 for nonprofit facilities.
Who’s planning to run psilocybin businesses in Salem?
As of Tuesday, the city has received two applications seeking land use approval for psilocybin service centers.
One is the facility Plumb hopes to open. Her city application, approved in October, lists its address at 750 Browning Ave S.E., Salem’s old Teamsters building, but Plumb said she and her business partners are still scouting possible alternatives because of the extensive renovations that would be required.
Plumb said the business is still preparing its application for the state health authority.
Salem has received a second application for a service center at 1880 State St. which is still pending land use approval, according to the city’s permit application system. The applicant is listed as CW Logistics LLC, a Grants Pass-based logistics company.
The state health authority has received three applications statewide for manufacturing centers as of Wednesday, said spokeswoman Erica Heartquist. She declined to say where the prospective centers were located.
When will psilocybin therapy be available?
That’s not yet clear, but it’s likely at least several months away.
Facility applications require a site walk-through, said Angie Albee, psilocybin services manager for the health authority. She said her office will review applications in the order they come in. Many businesses are also still scoping out logistics around locations and business plans.
“It might be in the beginning we have a slower trickle of applications that come in,” Albee said.
To open, service centers need manufacturing facilities and labs up and running to supply the products they use.
Plumb said she’s hoping to open a Salem facility in the summer.
How much will it cost?
Psilocybin remains illegal federally, and services won’t be covered by insurance. Exact prices will be determined by service centers – there’s no state-regulated price for a session, and entrepreneurs like Plumb said they don’t yet know what they’ll need to charge.
“We really hope to keep services super affordable, accessible to all folks who may need them,” Plumb said.
As the health authority made rules, many comments focused on keeping services affordable, with people objecting to the high license cost and some of the requirements, like a single-occupancy restroom on-site.
Albee said the health authority’s hands were somewhat tied on license fees because by law, the psilocybin program must be self-supporting, meaning the fees from licenses must cover the state’s costs of running the program.
Clients will have to pay both for the psilocybin products to consume on-site, as well as for the session at the service center. Group sessions, where a facilitator supervises multiple people using psilocybin at the same time, are allowed, though state rules set minimum staff to client ratios. Those sessions, as well as smaller dose sessions, are likely to be more affordable.
Contact reporter Rachel Alexander: [email protected] or 503-575-1241.
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Rachel Alexander is Salem Reporter’s managing editor. She joined Salem Reporter when it was founded in 2018 and covers city news, education, nonprofits and a little bit of everything else. She’s been a journalist in Oregon and Washington for a decade. Outside of work, she’s a skater and board member with Salem’s Cherry City Roller Derby and can often be found with her nose buried in a book.