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Deschutes County commissioners hold hearing on ‘time, place and manner’ rules for psilocybin use

(Update: Comments from county Commissioner Patti Adair, Health Advocacy Fund)

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- "Even before the pandemic, Oregon has had one of the worst mental health crises in the country," Leslie Carlson with the Healing Advocacy Fund said Monday. "I think one in three Oregonians now are saying that they are suffering from anxiety or depression or another mental disorder."

The Healing Advocacy Fund is a nonprofit that supports the safe implementation of psilocybin use.

While several Oregon cities and counties voted earlier this month to opt out of Measure 110, the psilocybin measure voters approved in 2020, residents of two Oregon counties voted in favor of allowing manufacturing and service centers -- Deschutes and Jackson.

Deschutes County commissioners held a public hearing Monday afternoon to receive testimony on proposed land-use regulations related to psilocybin businesses in the rural, unincorporated county, recently crafted by the county Planning Commission.

Monday's hearing was continued to 6 p.m. next Wednesday, Nov. 30, and the written record will be kept open until Friday, Dec. 2 at 4 p.m.

Before Monday's hearing, county Commissioner Patti Adair said that "32 individuals provided written testimony -- and you know, we heard a lot of testimony before" on the topic

In this month's election, a majority of county voters agreed to allow psilocybin manufacturing and service centers in the unincorporated county. As a result, amendments heard by the Planning Commission in late September are now before county commissioners.

Commissioners and county staff are working out details of where the centers would be located, and establishing guidelines.

“Our (proposed) rules are very specific where they can be," Adair said.

Adair said psilocybin service centers won't be allowed near elementary and secondary schools, unless there’s a major physical barrier in between. Centers will be allowed in designated rural areas in exclusive farm-use land.

A prevalent concern in from the public, Adair said, is people wanting centers to be open overnight. 

“That's definitely going to need some probably legislative changes," Adair said.

Adair said the county likely will follow the Oregon Health Authority's planned rules for hours of operation, which are 6 AM to 11:59 PM.

Others weighing in on the matter have expressed support for psilocybin centers in destination resorts.

Carlson shared how the psilocybin services could look, once all the rules and processes are in place.

In a four step process, Carlson explained, "You’ll first have an assessment, and we’ll go through an assessment to both be matched with a facilitator that meets your needs. The second part of your treatment will be a meeting with your facilitator, the person who will guide you through the process.

"Then you get the administration of the psilocybin, and you are with your facilitator in a service center, regulated and licensed service center, during the period of time that you’re using psilocybin.”

Part of that setup is that the client has to have a transportation plan, and someone has to pick them up.

“And then, finally an integration session is where clients will meet again with a facilitator and really integrate what they’ve learned into their daily life," Carlson said.

Additional information on proposed land use regulations and the submission of written or virtual testimony is available at www.deschutes.org/cd. You can find links to more materials about the proposals in the 3:15 p.m. agenda item here.

For more information about the psilocybin land-use proposals, contact Tanya Saltzman, Senior Planner, at tanya.saltzman@deschutes.org or (541) 388-6528.

Here's Saltzman's memo to commissioners on the planning commission's recommendations:

Article Topic Follows: Government-politics
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Bola Gbadebo

Bola Gbadebo is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Bola here.

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