Photo by Cottonbro

Oregon Teams With Harvard Group to Research the History of Psilocybin

As the state of Oregon continues to pursue the creation of a legal psilocybin therapy program, a panel has cleared researchers to produce a comprehensive report on psychedelics. And to save time, they will partner with the newly formed Harvard Law School Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics to complete the study within six months.

Oregon became the first state to allow regulated use of psilocybin in 2020. In connection with preparations to allow that, the state’s Psilocybin Advisory Board released a report in July that reviewed hundreds of studies into psilocybin, as the initiative required. 

“Hopefully, it can provide a bit of a roadmap for fruitful collaboration between states and the federal government.”

Mason Marks

But the report didn’t look into the history of entheogenic, or psychedelic substances. Hooking up with the Harvard group, the Project on Psychedelics Law and Regulation (POPLAR), seems like the right move for a project of this scope. “Given increasing interest in psychedelics legislation, Oregon will likely be the first of several states to contemplate regulating psilocybin services,” said Mason Marks, director of the Harvard center and a member of the Oregon advisory board for psilocybin. “To the extent that the [Ethical, Legal, and Social Implications] Report can help inform their decision making, it should be made available for that purpose. Hopefully, it can provide a bit of a roadmap for fruitful collaboration between states and the federal government.”

The Psilocybin Advisory Board report concluded that research continues to show psilocybin has medical value for a number of mental health conditions. But this new, collaborative review will go much further, delving into the history and how psilocybin prohibition has affected marginalized communities and Indigenous people and how Oregon’s reform law could impact those individuals.

Marks outlined the goals in a proposal he submitted for the collaboration. “The Board can now pursue a second round of research that addresses topics and viewpoints that had to be omitted from the Rapid Review due to time constraints,” he wrote, citing anthropology literature, religious and legal scholarship and other topics and viewpoints.

Among the many questions Marks has are how psilocybin affects individuals, families, communities, interpersonal relationships and social functioning; how different cultures and communities view psilocybin; how their attitudes changed over time; and what accounts for the social stigma associated with psilocybin.

The recommendations and conclusions of the report will still need to be approved by the full Psilocybin Advisory Board before being submitted to regulators at the Oregon Health Authority for consideration.

This piece was originally published by Marijuana Moment and has been edited or modified by The News Station.

Leland Rucker is a journalist who has been covering the cannabis industry culture since Amendment 64 legalized adult-use in Colorado, for Boulder Weekly, Sensi and now TheNewsStation.com. His full bio is here.

Leland Rucker is a journalist who has been covering the cannabis industry culture since Amendment 64 legalized adult-use in Colorado, for Boulder Weekly, Sensi and now TheNewsStation.com. His full bio is here.

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