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Medford gears up for psilocybin

City Council voted to put in place rules that describe time, place and manner for cultivation and use of magic mushrooms
Medford City Council voted unanimously Thursday to begin crystalizing the rules for implementation of Measure 109, which allows the therapeutic use of psychedlic psilocybin mushrooms beginning next year. [123rf.com]

Medford City Council Thursday night unanimously approved taking the first steps toward allowing psilocybin, or magic mushroom, therapy.

“We’re going to start working on that now,” said Matt Brinkley, Medford planning director.

By Jan. 19, 2023, the city should have regulations in place that describe the time, place and manner for both cultivation of mushrooms and for places that offer therapy.

Brinkley said his staff will rely on preliminary rules from the state of Oregon to help guide the development of regulations in the city.

“The big issue is what happens if the state comes out with rules that are different,” he said.

City planning staff may have to alter proposed regulations if the state makes substantial changes to its preliminary rules.

Because these rules from Oregon Health Authority are still in flux, it has caused concern from cities and counties who need to write their own rules concerning the times of operation, where they can be located and other rules around the manner of operation. The rules need to be written before the state starts processing licenses in January.

On Aug. 4, the council voted against a proposed November ballot measure that would have asked Medford voters to approve either a two-year ban or a permanent ban on psilocybin therapy.

Medford and Ashland are both allowing psilocybin facilities inside their respective cities.

Central Point, Phoenix and Jackson County have all decided to refer a ban to the November ballot.

In November 2020, Oregon voters approved Ballot Measure 109, the Oregon Psilocybin Services Act, which allows for manufacture, delivery and administration of psilocybin at licensed facilities. The state will begin processing licenses in January 2023.

Medford voters approved Measure 109 by 201 votes.

In July, Jackson County commissioners approved placing a measure on the Nov. 8 ballot asking voters to ban psilocybin mushrooms despite strong support for psilocybin therapy during a public hearing.

Supporters of psilocybin therapy say it has proven effective in treating post-traumatic stress disorder, addiction, mental illness and other problems.

Some detractors point to the problems associated with marijuana legalization, which has provided cover for illegal grows throughout Southern Oregon.

Supporters say the limited use of psilocybin in a licensed treatment facility would not resemble the legalization of cannabis.

Growing mushrooms will be conducted in an indoor facility and shouldn’t have the odor associated with cannabis.

The psilocybin law will allow anyone 21 or older to seek treatment from a licensed therapy center. Unlike cannabis, psilocybin cannot be used at home or recreationally under Measure 109.

The county ordinance would not affect local cities from allowing psilocybin in their communities, but the measure, if approved, would prevent therapy centers in unincorporated areas of the county.

The city will be looking at two businesses that will be related to psilocybin.

Cultivation locations will be located in areas zoned commercial or industrial in the city.

Therapy centers will have their own requirements, particularly the hours of operation.

“Ideally, yes, we’ll talk to people who have these centers or do cultivation to see what their needs are,” said Brinkley.

Reach freelance writer Damian Mann at dmannnews@gmail.com.