There’s big behavioral health news in Oregon, from the legalization of mushrooms to massive behavioral health funding. Here’s a quick roundup of some of these important stories.
Magic Mushrooms Now a Legal Option in Oregon
As of January 1, 2023, adults aged 21 and older can legally use psilocybin, the psychedelic compound of magic mushrooms, under a state-certified facilitator’s supervision. Voters originally approved this change via a 2020 ballot measure. Research indicates that psilocybin could help treat some severe mental health conditions, such as depression and alcohol addiction, though scientists are not yet sure how it works.
Oregon has not legalized the retail sale of the drug. Approved psilocybin service centers and facilitators may start their services later this year. The drug is still illegal at the federal level. Voters in Colorado have also approved a ballot measure to legalize the supervised use of psilocybin.
Ruling Keeps New Limits on State Hospital Stays
U.S. District Court Judge Michael Mosman has upheld a decision that limits how long people charged with crimes can stay at the Oregon State Hospital. In September 2022, Mosman ordered Oregon to release defendants with behavioral health issues from the hospital within 90 days, six months, or a year, depending on the charge.
This would allow those defendants awaiting hospital admission from jail to be admitted sooner. However, some hospital system representatives and county attorneys had asked the judge to reconsider the order, saying that it unlawfully prioritized certain defendants over others.
According to Oregon State Hospital spokeswoman Amber Shoebridge, patients are discharged to the county from which they were referred to the hospital. Those counties have 30 days’ notice to create a plan for after discharge.
Bureaucracy a Struggle for Smaller Oregon Behavioral Health Providers
Smaller mental health providers in Oregon say that red tape is keeping them from taking advantage of a new state law that offers more than $140 million annually to improve care in the state. State and federal funding is being put into the Oregon Health Plan (OHP) to raise rates and salaries for mental healthcare workers in an effort to keep them in their roles.
However, smaller practices say that the application process to join the OHP network is burdensome. For one provider, the process took a year and three staff members. Oregon Rep. Rob Nosse, who chairs the committee on behavioral health and health care, says that a bill to be proposed later this year will require the Oregon Health Authority to hire a research analyst to help decide which regulations are unnecessarily burdensome. He hopes a bill to resolve the problem will be introduced in 2024.
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