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Oregon Psilocybin Advisory Board Rejects Entheogenic Practitioner Recommendations

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Despite strong public support and approval by two subcommittees, the Oregon Psilocybin Advisory Board (Advisory Board) voted against a set of recommendations for privileges and duties of entheogenic practitioners. The recommendations would have, in essence, supplemented Measure 109 by providing protections and considerations for the religious use of psilocybin. A major concern that the Advisory Board discussed in deciding to not approve the recommendations was that the proposed recommendations may have created a separate license track that was not tenable with the framework of Measure 109.

Advisory Board member and equity subcommittee leader, Dr. Rachel Knox, explained that while she did not support approving the entire framework, she did support a narrower vote that would support non-profit organizations and approve the community practitioner segments of the entheogenic recommendations (Dr. Knox and Kevin Fitts were the only two Advisory Board members to vote in favor of approving the entheogenic recommendations). Advisory Board member, Steph Barss-Bend, likewise stated that while she did not support the recommendations as written, she expressed concern that services under Measure 109 will be inequitable and inaccessible to low-income clients.

The reason for the sudden change of course is likely the result of a legal memorandum from the Oregon Department of Justice that was released shortly after the Advisory Board meeting. Oregon DOJ opined that the entheogenic recommendations violated Measure 109 because the entheogenic recommendations would have created special exemptions for entheogenic practitioners, and OHA lacked statutory authority to provide such exemptions. The entheogenic privileges may have also raised constitutional issues under the Oregon and Federal Constitution, because treating entheogenic and non-entheogenic practitioners differently would amount to unequal treatment based on religious affiliation in violation of the Establishment Clause.

For those interested in the proposed framework (which will likely serve as a basis for future reforms and legislation) please click on this hyperlink to learn more about how religious freedom interacts with psilocybin services.

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