Government, Health, News

Banks City Council considers psilocybin facility moratorium

The Banks City Council is determining whether or not it should allow medical facilities that provide patients with psilocybin and monitor their use in mental health therapy sessions inside the city limits.

The city council is considering placing a two-year moratorium on any psilocybin treatment centers from opening in Banks. The city council also is looking into putting a ballot initiative before voters this November asking if there should be a two-year ban on these facilities.

Voters approved Oregon Measure 109 in November 2020, authorizing the Oregon Health Authority to issue licenses to mental health care providers to administer medications that include psilocybin — a hallucinogen found in certain types of mushrooms that is classified as a Schedule 1 drug by the DEA. 

The law goes into effect in 2024 but cities have the ability to implement a two-year moratorium on any facilities opening inside the city limits until that time. If the city does nothing then the law goes into effect this year.

“The reason this has come before you is, unlike the medical marijuana program and recreational marijuana program that require local governments to opt-in, this one is automatically going to allow these uses unless local governments opt out,” City Attorney Dan Kearns said. “If you want to opt out you need to create a resolution with the opt-out provision to put to the voters for the November ballot.”

Kearns told the city councilors that state legislatures “never authorize these things because they are political Kryptonite,” a fictional mineral that deprives Superman of his powers when he is near it. 

“This was sent to the voters,” Kearns said. “They approved it much like medical marijuana was approved in 1998, and if you recall that was a sleeper — nothing really happened for 10 years. It was prescribed and people could get medical marijuana cards but it wasn’t a big deal until about 10 years later. Soon after that, it became a bigger deal when voters approved recreational marijuana. 

Local governments in Oregon have the ability to regulate the production, processing, and dispensing of marijuana. In the psilocybin program, the dispensaries are called service centers because the administration of the psilocybin is under medical supervision. Kearns said that individuals with prescriptions go to a medical center to get their mushrooms or powder or edibles and take it under supervision. 

“Local governments are not able to tax these (facilities) so it seems like who knows how this is going to look when it really is rolled out,” he said, “I anticipate it might be similar to the medical marijuana program in that it won’t be that big of a deal and probably will make less of a splash than medical marijuana was because these are administered under medical supervision.”

City Councilor Pete Edison wanted to know exactly how psilocybin treatment works, and how its application helps patients. Mayor Stephanie Jones said it was her understanding that it helps veterans who struggle with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). 

“My understanding is that unlike medical marijuana where you can get it from your doctor and take it home and use it, this has to be taken at the facility and then the facility where you use it is separate from the facility growing the mushrooms and creating the product,” Jones said. “Then there is a lab testing the strength of these mushrooms so there are three kinds of places where things could be happening.”

City land use zoning requirements don’t allow marijuana dispensaries to operate within 1,000 feet of a school zone. The geographical layout of Banks leaves only one small parcel of land on the southwest corner of the city near the golf course where a dispensary could possibly operate, Jones said.

The city council will consider a ballot initiative at its August meeting.

The Washington County Board of Commissioners will consider, for the second time, a similar question during the regular board meeting scheduled for July 26. Such a ban would apply to unincorporated areas in the county. 

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