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Lebanon city leaders concerned about public safety and mental health are ready to say no to psilocybin again. 

Voters passed a two-year moratorium on allowing psilocybin businesses in Lebanon with 61% in favor in November 2022.

City Council members discussed its future options during a work session Wednesday, Oct. 11. If they do nothing, the state framework for psilocybin manufacturing and services takes effect in November 2024.

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The council also has the option, through voter referral, to ban manufacturing facilities, service facilities, or both. Alternatively, officials could determine time, place and manner regulations through a city ordinance.

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Or they could put the question of opting out to the voters while also approving an ordinance, in case voters OK psilocybin facilities. The council went with the last option, directing staff to simultaneously prepare for a voter referendum on opting out and an ordinance to regulate the businesses.

In 2022, officials believed they didn’t have enough data, and rules weren’t finalized. The consensus during Wednesday’s work session was essentially the same — wait and see how it works elsewhere.

“There’s rules now,” Councilor Jeremy Salvage said. “It’s a little underwhelming what they’ve actually set up compared to what I thought it was going to be.”

Councilors also aired concerns about what they consider a lack of training and education requirements for those who administer and supervise psilocybin treatment at designated facilities, mocking the 120-hour course requirement as insufficient, and saying the result could be harmful rather than helpful.

“You think about the amount of training a psychologist or licensed therapist has for treating PTSD,” Salvage said. “This just seems like a spot where people can go get high on shrooms.”

Mayor Kenneth Jackola called the psilocybin service centers “troubling,” equating them with the opium dens of the Old West. He also worries about impacts on law enforcement and hospitals who might be called on if a psilocybin user won’t stay in a service center until the drug wears off.

“What’s the city get for adding a bunch of additional issues to our city,” Jackola asked. “We’re already shorthanded right now.”

psilocybin 3. (copy)

A bag of psilocybin-containing mushrooms used for therapeutic purposes. 

The lack of revenue from psilocybin was also a problem for at least one official. Council President Michelle Steinhebel said allowing the facilities equates to a lot of risk and not a lot of reward, unlike with alcohol or cannabis, from which the city takes a cut of profits.

“There’s no ‘sin tax’ attached to it, so to speak,” Steinhebel said. “I know it’s supposed to be for therapeutic uses, but it’s still a drug, so that also gives me pause.”  

In 2020, voters statewide approved Measure 109, which permitted the therapeutic use of psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms. It included a two-year delay, giving the state time to formulate some rules.

At the time, Lebanon constituents voted about 47% for legal psilocybin. Linn County was even lower with just 44% voting to approve the drug.

For cities that wanted to allow psilocybin services as an option, their leaders needed to do nothing. But for those areas where officials were less amenable, they had the option to put a local ballot measure before their voters, either asking for a forever ban or a two-year delay.

Linn County voters approved an all-out ban with 57% voting in favor. That ban on psilocybin mushroom therapy only applies to rural, unincorporated areas of Linn County. A number of smaller communities locally and statewide also put up moratoriums or bans on manufacturing and service centers.

Cody Mann covers public safety and justice in Linn and Benton counties. He can be contacted at 541-812-6113 or Follow him on Twitter via @News_Mann_.

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