It’s hard to believe that we are wrapping up the first year of the Oregon Psilocybin Services (OPS) program. Final rules were released at this time last year, following a protracted, two-year development period. The application window for licenses opened timely on January 2, 2023, and the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) continues to administer this novel program ably. Kudos to them for pulling it off.
The program is small, but growing
Early this year, I published an article that received a lot of attention titled “Oregon Psilocybin: Slow Start.” In that piece, I reported that as of January 23, OHA had received:
- 4 manufacturer license applications
- 3 service center license applications
- 1 testing lab license application
- 0 facilitator license applications
- 92 worker permit applications
- 19+/- approved training programs
That was hardly the land rush many had expected, and a far cry from what Oregon experienced with cannabis licensing back in the day. Throughout the year, though, numbers ticked up gradually. Here are licensing stats from the December 18, 2023 OPS Applications report:
Not too shabby. Most of the manufacturers, service centers and related economic activity are concentrated along the I-5 corridor, from Portland down to Eugene. There are pockets of limited activity in Jefferson County (down south), Deschutes County (central) and sparsely populated cities and counties that likewise decided not to shun the program.
The rules are changing, a bit
I’ve been somewhat critical of the OPS program structure going back to the advent of Measure 109, often calling the OPS program “cumbersome” and such. And it is. An unfortunate corollary of this has been high costs for clients (who are mostly out-of-staters), and related access issues. That said, the program is what it is at this point, and some service centers offer “sliding fee” schedules and such. OPS also makes license applicants create a social equity plan (yes, they actually read them). It’s a great aspiration, but ultimately a specious exercise for some of these folks. Finally, OHA is on record stating that expanding access to psilocybin services is a priority issue for 2024.
We have written exhaustively about the OPS rules on this blog, so I’m not going to rehash things here. We did see new rules proposed in late October on training, data collection and technical fixes to the OPS program. Emerge Law Group published helpful commentary on all of that here. For now, I’d say that technical fixes are always a thing in controlled substances programs; the draft training rules are straightforward; and the data collection rules stem from Senate Bill 303, a client data collection law I ragged on this summer. A series of public hearings on all of this commenced in November, and the permanent rules should land any day now.
We’ll see what happens, if anything, in the 2024 Oregon legislative session. Yesterday, I wrote on our sister Canna Law Blog that I expect much of the “controlled substances” oxygen to be sucked up by Measure 110 (drug decriminalization) considerations. For that reason alone, I don’t expect heavy tinkering with the OPS program in 2024. Let’s see.
Finally, it’s worth noting that 2024 will be the second and final year of the “50% or more residency requirement” for ownership of a licensed Oregon psilocybin business. Assuming the legislature doesn’t decide to mess with this, we would welcome this sunset. People who want in are getting in, regardless.
It’s been nice and quiet with respect to federal law enforcement and the OPS program. I wrote a short piece on the VISIONS Act this fall, a prophylactic federal bill to constrain policing of OPS compliant actors. In that piece, noted that:
…the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) was scheduled to contact local U.S. Attorneys last year, to facilitate a conversation on this very topic. OHA informs me that they did, in fact, reach out, but the response was subdued– essentially just confirmation from DOJ that it is aware of the state’s psilocybin program. No developments since then.
I haven’t followed up with OHA on the topic since late September, but I assume if something were afoot, we’d hear about it. Let’s see what happens in the 2024 elections and everything else; but for now this program seems of little interest to the feds. That status quo would be supported by continued smooth sailing from a public health and safety perspective in the OPS program next year. So far, reports of adverse events are vanishingly few among the 700+ consenting adults who have tried this beta program.
Oregon psilocybin 2023: That’s a wrap
Let me know in the comments if you think I missed anything worth mentioning, or shoot me an email. I’m sure there’s something. And let’s hope for good things at OPS in 2024.
In the meantime, for more on all things Oregon and psilocybin, including expansive coverage of OHA rules and program developments, check out our 50 post archive here. For information relevant to starting a psilocybin business in Oregon, check out these specific posts:
- Oregon Psilocybin: Business Issues
- Oregon Psilocybin: Banking
- Oregon Psilocybin: Real Estate, Insurance, and Employment Issues
- Oregon Psilocybin: Professional Service Providers
- Oregon Psilocybin: Trademarks & Patents
- Oregon Psilocybin and Securities: Raising Money Right
- Psilocybin Fundraising: Five Tips on Approaching Investors
- Psilocybin Companies and Phantom Income
- Psychedelics Benefit Companies
- Psilocybin Lease Checklist: Top 10
- Can Non-Oregon Residents Get Psilocybin Licenses?
- Starting a Psilocybin Business: Write it Down