Legal Status

The legal status of psychedelics can be very confusing. For example, a drug may be legal at the state level but remain illegal at the federal level. Here is some basic information that can be helpful in understanding the risk associated with using psychedelic substances.

Currently, most psychedelic substances remain illegal for personal use. While some states have passed legislation that decriminalize psychedelics or other drugs, this is not the same thing as being legal. Decriminalization may mean that it may not be a priority for law enforcement or that the penalties for possession of small amounts may be small. However, even drugs that are decriminalized can carry some risk. For example, possession of a drug over a specified amount may result in a criminal act punishable by law.

In healthcare, the only legal options for psychedelic-assisted therapy are ketamine and cannabis. MDMA-assisted therapy is estimated to be FDA approved in 2024 and psilocybin-assisted therapy a couple of years after that. 

In Oregon, Measure 109 was voted in by the public and led to the creation of a new program, psilocybin services, overseen by the Oregon Health Authority (OHA). Psilocybin services are not exactly the same thing as psychedelic-assisted therapy. Psilocybin services in Oregon are more of a supervised adult use model, where you can purchase up to a certain amount of psilocybin to be consumed on the premises of a licensed facility while being supervised by a licensed facilitator. Colorado has passed a similar bill, but Oregon is the first state in the nation to experiment with this new model.

While many therapists and other clinicians will become dually licensed as psilocybin facilitators, psilocybin services under measure 109 is not the same as mental health treatment. For example, insurance companies will not cover psilocybin services, at least initially. Facilitators are not required to have a mental health background and you do not need a diagnosis to have a psilocybin experience. You can access psilocybin services for any reason. And while psilocybin is legal under this specific context at the state level, it remains illegal at the federal level and is not permitted for personal consumption. 

One exemption to legal status is the use of psychedelics under the protection of religious rights and freedom. Some churches and other organizations, such as the Santo Daime church, are permitted to use psychedelics in their ceremonies and other contexts.