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A meeting of Medford City Council and the city Planning Commission Thursday night laid the groundwork for safety measures to deal with the upcoming legalization of psilocybin therapy.
City officials endorsed fire regulations, land-use rules and a minimum staffing of three people to handle potentially difficult situations.
“It could cause a safety issue in a situation where someone has an adverse reaction to psilocybin or has a bad trip,” said Eric Mitton, city attorney.
The study session gave direction to staff members drafting proposed regulations, such as prohibiting clients from possessing weapons while undergoing treatment with psilocybin, also known as magic mushrooms.
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.
The county ordinance would not affect local cities from allowing psilocybin in their communities, but the measure, if approved, would prohibit therapy centers in unincorporated areas of the county.
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.
Medford needs to have regulations in place to deal with various businesses that will be handle different parts of the psilocybin production and treatment, such as manufacturing facilities that grow the mushrooms, laboratory testing facilities and therapy centers.
A long list of local regulations were discussed in the meeting.
Some of the rules, also being considered by state regulators, include prohibiting anyone younger than 21 from entering the premises of a psilocybin therapy center.
The person in charge of the therapy session would not be allowed to take psilocybin while a client also was taking mushrooms.
Psilocybin would not be allowed to be given as a promotional prize.
Another local rule would deal with misrepresenting psilocybin products.
“I just don’t know what hustles people are going to try in these sorts of businesses,” said Mitton.
A wait-and-see stance was taken by the council until the state regulations are developed around noisy, lewd or unsanitary conditions and misrepresenting psilocybin products.
One of the proposed local rules would require a designated driver be 21 or older to pick up a person who had undergone psilocybin therapy because the center couldn’t allow someone younger to go inside the building.
“I don’t know if I agree,” Councilor Kevin Stine said.
During COVID, people often called a medical facility to let them know they were there to pick someone up. Stine said an 18-year-old adult could wait outside the facility and give someone a ride home.
The council and commission agreed that a sober adult 18 or older could pick up the client.
Locating psilocybin facilities is another issue, and city staff leaned toward not allowing them in residential areas, on publicly owned lands or near schools.
State officials have discussed a 1,000-foot separation from elementary or secondary schools, or a 500-foot separation if there is a river or freeway that acts as a natural barrier.
Locating psilocybin businesses in buildings with other businesses could have some restrictions, such as not being able to co-locate in a cannabis business, a building that also sells alcohol, a food preparation facility or a health care center.
The city will create different zoning locations where it’s possible to allow psilocybin production, processing, service centers and laboratories.
Other location restrictions include proximity to commercial zones, other psilocybin centers, preschools, day care centers and public parks.
“The last thing we need in any of our parks is more ‘high’ people to be in them,” said Planning Commissioner John Quinn.
Councilors did express concern that prohibiting psilocybin facilities from being too close to schools and other locations would severely limit the number of locations available in the city.
“I just don’t quite see the fear, for lack of a better word, on (people) getting out of the facility,” said Stine.
Councilor Clay Bearnson said, “I would agree that the park would be a great place to be high in.”
Bearnson said he didn’t think there would be much of a problem with people coming out of psilocybin service centers and afterward running around the parks.
The council and planning commission, with a show of hands, agreed seven votes to six to prohibit psilocybin centers within 1,000 feet of a public park.
By the end of the year, the city hopes to take formal action on code changes to establish the regulations for psilocybin businesses.
Reach freelance writer Damian Mann at mannnews@gmail.com.
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