Understanding Psilocybin Legalization in Oregon and Colorado

Understanding psilocybin legalization is an important topic in psychedelics currently. How does Oregon and Colorado differ?
psilocybin legalization in Oregon and Colorado
Author: Guy Borgford
By Guy Borgford
February 6, 2023

GUY: We’re with Rose Moulin-Franco, the CEO and Co-Founder of Moksha Journeys, a professional facilitator and guide services organization dedicated to the safe and sacred use of psilocybin to promote healing, wellness, personal development, and the exploration of Consciousness. We’re here to discuss the latest developments in psychedelics in Oregon and Colorado. Rose is an expert in the field with extensive experience in addiction recovery, western medicine models, psychotherapy and eastern and western mysticism traditions, and holds deep expertise in working with psilocybin mushrooms for both healing work and personal and spiritual development. Today, we’ll focus on understanding psilocybin legalization. Thank you for joining me, Rose! 

ROSE: I’m really happy to get the chance to talk about all the exciting developments around psilocybin legalization in Oregon and Colorado – thank you for holding the space. 

GUY:  How long have you been working with psilocybin

ROSE: I first experienced the psychedelic plant medicine space at the age of 16, which gave me a significant spiritual realization. I continued my exploration of non-ordinary states of consciousness using psilocybin and LSD in my late teens and during my time in the U.S. Army, which, you could say, is where I began working with other people in these non-ordinary states of consciousness.

One night, my first sergeant in my unit came to me and asked me to help a fellow soldier who was having a challenging experience on LSD. I had seen friends go through similar experiences before and somehow this first sergeant noticed I had a way with supporting people. Unbeknownst to him, I had learned how to talk to people to ease them through these experiences and I was able to help calm the guy down. After that, my command seemed to think I was the go-to person for these kinds of situations. 

GUY: What did you do after you left the military?

ROSE: After the military, I became a psychotherapist and launched a trauma center. It was early in my career that it became apparent to me that people with post-traumatic stress disorder benefited from the use of cannabis because it helped their anxiety, and gave them a feeling of calm and even lessened their anger. Around the same time I started my own clinic, I began to study the western mystical traditions and esoteric philosophies that tell us we are greater than what we think, that there’s a transcendental self or true self that remains mostly unexplored unless we seek it. As I began to study deeper into those paths, I saw that many of them incorporated plant medicines into their practices to support and sustain expanded consciousness and attain the liberation that comes when we are experiencing the higher or true self.

GUY: How did things evolve from there? 

ROSE: I ultimately closed my clinical practice, and co-founded a temple of consciousness with an eastern yogi. The temple is a repository for the eastern and western traditions of enlightenment and the paths of conscious awakening. We merged these pathways and created frameworks for self-empowerment and realization of the true, divine self and incorporated these teachings and practices into the temple. I spent many years in India, learning the path of consciousness and found that yoginis and yogis worked with psychoactive plants and fungi within the context of self-awakening. When I returned to the US, I was fascinated by the new research on how yogi methods change the brain, and I began offering integral consciousness coaching to support others to attain this healing. I offered underground guidance, both within the temple and to clients, that allowed them to safely incorporate plant and fungi journeys to help them experience shifts of consciousness that can deliver profound and meaningful change.

I had the chance to offer my integral consciousness training program at an opioid addiction treatment center in 2018, and undertake case studies on the impact of this approach to healing. We saw some incredible results with participants who leveraged both microdosing and full-dose experiences to enable relief from years of addiction. 

When Oregon passed psilocybin legalization and committed to building a structure for licensed access, I made a commitment to bring these pathways to healing and awakening to more and more people in need. I attended a lot of the advisory board and committee meetings, provided public and written comments based on my decades of experience, and was selected by Oregon Psilocybin Services to serve on the Rules Advisory Committee for facilitator conduct, preparation, administration, and integration best practices. It was a great experience to be a part of this historic project.

GUY: So, how are things looking, when you compare what’s been rolled out in Oregon vs. what’s just been approved by the voters in Colorado for psychedelics?

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ROSE: Colorado voters passed a bill for psilocybin legalization within a licensed, regulatory system that is on track to develop similar advice and rules to what has been done in Oregon. However, Colorado’s law went further and created legal personal use, which includes communities, collectives, counselors,  and practitioners who want to share natural, plant medicines and provide supportive services for those seeking its healing and spiritual benefits. This part of the law does not permit the sale of psilocybin mushrooms at dispensaries, but recognizes the core value of sharing the plants and fungi of the earth that has been held by the indigenous and spiritual traditions. This model actually aligns most with my own values and those of our employees who view natural medicines as part of a spiritual path in which a sacred relationship is held with the mushroom. I really love this part of the Colorado law because of  the option to operate as a collective community. This is something that many people advocated for in Oregon during the rules process, but they did not create a similar option there.

GUY: Can you dig in a little further and elaborate on what you think was done right regarding the final rules and regulations in Oregon and Measure 109 for psilocybin legalization?

ROSE: A lot of things were done right. I think the training is pretty good and I like that they require a practicum, where students get hands-on experience facilitating. I appreciate the focus on safety and security, and creating a container for people that have never done this and don’t know anything about it. It makes it possible for those who are struggling with healing, or who just want to become their best self, to know they are going to be safe and have guidance from a trained and licensed facilitator.

GUY: What about things that didn’t net out in Oregon as you had hoped?

ROSE: My biggest disappointment was that the law gave regulatory authority to the Oregon Health Authority, which is a traditional, medical organization with little information on the hands-on practice of guiding psychedelic journeys. As a result, they’ve made the program a little too clinical and attached to Western Medical frameworks. It is certainly important to have knowledge of the current research and information on clinical applications and uses, however, the way the rules were structured, what should be a liberating experience is laden with procedures, regulations, limitations and bureaucracy.

GUY: I’d love to get your perspective on Colorado’s Natural Medicine Act, and how this compares to Oregon. What are some of the similarities between the two models? 

ROSE: There are similarities between the two, regarding the process on the licensure side, where they will create an advisory board and take 18 months to create the regulated side of the law. The Governor will select appointees to the advisory board, and there is supposed to be representation from different communities and different interests. At the end, they’re going to have the rules and requirements adopted, and the licensing will come online in the fall of 2024. So they’re just starting that process at the end of this month and I think this part of the new legal access will be quite similar to the process Oregon went through.

psilocybin legalization

GUY: And what will the licensed healing centers look like in Colorado? 

ROSE: The Licensed Healing Centers may be quite different from Oregon’s Licensed Facilitation Centers under psilocybin legalization because they will have had the opportunity to learn from the limitations of the Oregon model and hopefully make improvements. One example that I would like to see addressed is the rule in Oregon that ties dosages to time clocks, meaning, there is a minimum amount of time that the client has to remain with a facilitator before there could be a conversation about ending the journey and going home. There are so many confounding variables that have an impact on the effects of the medicine for each individual.

As anyone who has experienced psilocybin will tell you, at any dose in the macro range, at the three hour mark, most people could be in the deepest part of your journey, however, according to the countdown clock, they can have a conversation about going home. On the other hand, someone may have issues, such as recent cessation of antidepressant SSRI’s, that could prevent them from having any effects unless they receive a higher dose, which could be 60 milligrams or more. The maximum dose in the rules is 50 milligrams and the client must remain on premises for 6 hours, which is problematic for someone who paid a great deal for an experience, didn’t get one, and isn’t allowed to be released by the facilitator if they want to go home.

I suggested that they discard these unrealistic dosage criteria with time limits, and let the facilitator  apply their very expensive training and practicum experience to determine the right time to end the session, based on the clients’ lived experience rather than the clock on the wall.  

Another issue is that Oregon wrote dosage rules using the medical format of milligrams, which hasn’t been used as a measurement for dosage since the beginning of the underground movement. Dosage has always been based on dried grams of fungal fruiting bodies. The medical model demanded a conversion to milligrams of actual psilocin, which in a whole plant medicine context, is completely variable. It’s an unnecessary complication that’s been layered on without consideration of long-standing and effective standards of care set in the underground community decades ago. 

GUY: How does the community model that’s laid out by Colorado align with your work?

ROSE: Under Colorado psilocybin legalization, we’re able to operate in a way that is much more deeply aligned with our roots and our values coming from the containers of spiritual practice and spiritual tradition, and merging that with a team that also brings clinical, medical, neuroscience, and coaching backgrounds to the process. Having the side by side recognition of the existing ecosystem of community collectives and personal use is going to have a positive impact on things like accessibility, scalability, and more supportive and available integration networks. It is designed to support individuals in their respective and collective ceremonial and exploratory experiences. 

GUY: So how is Moksha Journeys positioning itself in this new space?

ROSE:  One key differentiator of Moksha Journeys is our focus on neurowellness.  We hold the view that when your brain is in the best condition, you will have the best psychedelic experience. Combining optimal mindset, a safe and sacred setting, harm reduction, and expert support, we allow people to do self-therapy and self-exploration in natural settings. This is a different opportunity that we have in Colorado psilocybin legalization, which is why I’m very grateful and excited for the opportunities there compared to Oregon’s psilocybin legalization model. 

We also conduct depth coaching, which comes from that path of integral consciousness, providing training that helps people learn to navigate their journeys in ways that lead to enduring change. Depth coaching helps people go deeper into their real intentions and get to the root of what they need, and what they want their journey to illuminate for them.

GUY: Aside from holding space and conducting psilocybin ceremonies, how else are you involved in the legal rollout of psilocybin services? 

ROSE: My partners and I have created an incredible, in-house training program for our employees that is Oregon-state approved and enables us to leverage the talents of team leaders who have the knowledge and skill sets that are most supportive and effective for professional facilitation. This enables us to train our new hires to our standards and provide them a quality education in the neuroscience of healing and awakening as well as the spiritual aspects of these sacred medicines. Our curriculum includes all the elements that are required by the state, and has additional hours of training that focus on neural wellness, brain health, biochemistry, and other areas of specialization that we incorporate to ensure our clients have the best journeys possible for their unique needs and interests. Our training organization is called Bodhi Academy and we’re in the process of training our facilitators for licensure in Oregon, and will  certify Bodhi Guides to practice in Colorado under our inclusive community model. 

GUY: Is there anything emerging out of these new legal frameworks that really concern you or even shock you? 

ROSE: Language emerged in the final draft of rules that would have mandated that anyone accessing psilocybin services would have their de-identified personal data shared with the OHA and other unidentified institutions and people. I feel that any involuntary data collection without informed consent and the right to opt out constitutes an unethical breach of client privacy rights. I argued against this on the Rules Advisory Committee and in written comments, along with many other privacy advocates and lawyers, and it was deleted from the final rule. This month, a bill was introduced in the Oregon legislature to create a law that would require data collection on every person who seeks services under psilocybin legalization and would result in denial of services if they refuse to participate. This is reminiscent of historical clinical experiments on people who did not give informed consent, for example, studies that collected data on people of color without their knowledge or consent.  This happened before an established code of ethics became mandatory in research and it particularly impacted minority communities.

People of color carry this racial and social trauma and have legitimate fears and ongoing issues with mistreatment and abuse in American culture. This law could severely hinder their path to healing cultural trauma with psilocybin, as the intergenerational trauma around that kind of unethical collection of personal information will likely be an insurmountable obstacle for them. I firmly believe this proposed law is dangerous and shortsighted, and I have made my position clear that if this bill or any like it becomes law, our team would not practice in Oregon in order to protect our clients rights to privacy. 

GUY: Thank you for speaking up about that Rose. It’s vitally important to raise the alarm and your comments are spot on. So how does someone work with Moksha Journeys and embark on their own journey with psilocybin?

ROSE: Visit the Moksha Journeys website at mokshajourneys.com. Moksha is a Sanskrit word that means liberation and freedom, and it indicates a movement into the next place in your conscious expansion. There’s a link on the website to schedule a free call and talk to one of our guides to learn about how we can support your journey, discuss your needs, and help you enroll in our programs and retreats.

We are currently organizing group retreats in Colorado that will be added to the website and you will be able to register for those events in the coming months. After your call, the next step is to set up an intake session with one of the guides, and start the process to prepare for your journey and get the liberation you desire and deserve.

GUY: Beautiful, Rose – thank you so much and sharing your time and knowledge of the unfolding of this new era in wellness and personal development. 

ROSE: Thank you, Guy – we are living in exciting times!

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Author: Guy Borgford
Guy Borgford
Starting with a meditation practice a few years ago, Guy quickly began intentional work with plant and fungi medicine shortly thereafter, resulting in both profound healing and personal and spiritual development. Along with a variety of consulting positions at various organizations in the psychedelic space, Guy is also an artist and avid student of learning about our natural world with a keen interest in regenerative systems design. He runs a meditation retreat from his home in the North Cascade Mountains and counts the McKenna Academy of Natural Philosophy and working with the legendary and beloved Dennis McKenna among his volunteer experiences.

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