Sandy council enacts prohibition on psilocybin
The city of Sandy is handling Oregon's legalization of psilocybin service centers in much the same way it dealt with marijuana dispensaries in 2014.
In a word: prohibition.
The Sandy City Council on Monday unanimously passed two ordinances: the first establishing the prohibition of psilocybin service centers and the manufacture of psilocybin products within the city limits; the second referring the issue to Sandy voters who have the opportunity to overturn the council decision in the November 2022 general election.
Oregon voters legalized the use, manufacture and distribution of psilocybin through passage of Ballot Measure 109 in 2020, setting in motion rule making under the oversight of the Oregon Health Authority. OHA will begin accepting applications for psilocybin licenses in January 2023.
"This should be prohibited in Sandy, not that it will make a difference in Gresham and Portland and many other cities that will allow this to happen," Councilor Carl Exner said. "It's a message that we established many years ago when we said 'no' to marijuana. Folks I have heard from seem to be in that same sort of mode with psilocybin."
Sandy City Councilors are generally sympathetic to people who have found psilocybin helpful in treating chronic medical issues, particularly when traditional medical treatments have been unsuccessful.
"It appears to be helpful for them and I am supportive of anything that can help those folks because there are so many people that are not helped by certain medications," Councilor Kathleen Walker said. "If this was just clinical use and oversight I would support it, because I think it is important for them to have that option."
Councilors, however, are concerned at the ease at which people would access psilocybin without physician oversight; the potential for abuse; and the possibility of driving while under the influence and putting others at-risk.
Psilocybin is a naturally occurring psychedelic compound produced by more than 200 species of fungi. It has mind-altering effects that can include euphoria and hallucinations, while some people even report having spiritual experiences. It can also cause reactions such as nausea and panic attacks.
Two people testified during Monday's meeting, asking the City Council to reconsider its prohibition. Both of them are residents of Gresham.
One of those people who testified — a woman — spoke openly about personal medical and emotional circumstances in her life, which is why The Post has decided against publishing her name.
She told the council that passage of Measure 109 in Oregon provided her with hope for relief.
"I have lived with severe, chronic, treatment-resistant depression and anxiety for most of my life," she said. "Additionally, I've been diagnosed with PTSD as a result of a long series of traumatic events from my childhood. I have been prescribed more medications than I can remember. I've been in therapy for more than a decade. About four years ago things got really bad and really dark."
It was at that time that a friend sent her an article published in 2017 by the Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology, examining the history of clinical research on psilocybin. And two years later Oregonians legalized psilocybin.
"This is what Measure 109 offers, it offers hope for me, and others like me who are in the same boat. I'm asking this council to reconsider this ordinance. To reconsider putting access to medical care up to a vote.
"I personally won't be affected either way [because] I live in Gresham. But I know exactly what it feels like to be out of options and out of hope. My empathy extends to those in Sandy for whom access to clinically administered psilocybin would be literally lifesaving," she added.
The council's prohibition is permanent unless overturned by voters in November. The ordinance, however, does leave the door open for the council to revisit the prohibition at a later date.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.